Becoming is one of those books that will stick with you forever. It being a memoir is a big part of it, but Obama’s down to earth, humane anecdotes make her more relatable than her public figure ever will. Because of that, it is to be expected that the book is revised and edited to a certain degree, a way that will keep her profile a certain way because of political life. But despite this, Obama manages to make the book homely, relatable.
Before I had read this book, I had prepared myself to add it to my mental list of books everyone pretends they’ve read. When the opportunity was given to me however, I decided to read it. I walked into this experience not really knowing much about Michelle Obama. I believed her to be an amazing person with outstanding values, who had done much for the country and charity work. But I also saw her as a high government official, how everyone views celebrities or people they admire. It is hard to truly see someone with so much swirling media and gossip around them.
As I mentioned, the book was most certainly paired down, but Obama’s writing was inviting. I was expecting it to be formal, statistical, rational, yet the book is very kind, open, informal, like she was explaining her life story to you in a conversation. There were little vignettes everywhere and recurring, unpolitical themes. One specific instance that comes to me is when she’s campaigning for Barack and speaks to the people as a community, not just as faceless voters; “My job, I realize, was to be myself, to speak as myself. And so I did. ‘Let me tell you about me. I’m Michelle Obama, raised on the South Side of Chicago, in a little apartment on the top floor of a two-story house’ [...] ‘I’d been conflicted about whether Barack should run at all, worried about what the spotlight might do to our family.’” (pg 236). This quote also brings forth something I thought was interesting; that even if Obama was talking about a party or a speech, she always managed to bring family into it, whether that was describing how tired her daughters felt, or any similar, silly memory.
It is clear that Michelle Obama is a family person, she never wanted to become involved in politics. Growing up in the Southside, with a big family, many friends, Michelle strives to connect with people. Because she wants to be seen as a person and more than a political figure, she makes that point in the way of her writing, bringing herself down to our level, saying things we might relate to. By doing this it poses questions like, is one’s well being more important than a whole country’s? How hard is it really to make your way in the world, even if people tell you if you work hard you can do anything? It poses racial and inequality questions. This book is not just the journey of a political family, it’s thought provoking because it is a real life, full documentation of someone who really did make it.
Overall, this book was an extreme surprise because of how well her image is manipulated. The book is written in chronological order and the farther you get into the story, the more she refers back in time to unpolitical, important memories. In those moments, I forgot about Michelle Obama, wife of president, charity worker, lawyer, etc. I saw only a little girl playing with her brother, or a teenager struggling with stress in high school. It is important to add these little parts in -not only about your personal success- because it helps people understand you and know that anyone can accomplish anything, which was certainly Obama’s message. Michelle puts so much pressure on the fact that she comes from the South Side, about the inequality and racism she’s faced. It reminds us of how our world is and it's inspiring to see someone move past all that and make such a difference. It makes us believe even more fervently that if you work hard, you can make it anywhere.