Becoming by author Michelle Obama

An Intimate and Inspiring Memoir: A Review of Michelle Obama’s “Becoming”


Michelle Obama’s memoir “Becoming” gives us an extraordinarily personal glimpse into the life of one of the most influential women in modern history. As the first African American First Lady, Obama captivated the world not only through her intelligence, strength, and style, but through her authenticity. This book allows readers to truly get to know Michelle Obama on an intimate level.

Becoming by author Michelle Obama

You can find Becoming by author Michelle Obama on your favorite bookstore, including and Amazon UK.

About author Michelle Obama

Author Michelle Obama

As the 44th First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama redefined the role with her own unique blend of grit, grace, and humor. Since stepping back into “regular life,” Obama remains a passionate advocate for access to education and healthy living. Drawing from her own remarkable journey, she aims to give a voice to the voiceless and inspire all to lead by example through service and compassion.

Born in Chicago in 1964 and raised by hardworking parents who emphasized education, young Michelle joined the high school honor society while also playing the piano, learning French, and making time for her part-time job. Ambition and civic duty ran strong in the Robinson family. Her grandfather taught her to read to the sounds of “fairness and justice;” ideals she holds dear today. After completing a degree at Princeton, Obama went on to earn her Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School. Here, the seeds of her signature causes took root as she mentored underprivileged youth.

Obama’s introduction to public life came through her position as an associate dean at the University of Chicago. By guiding students from all backgrounds toward purposeful lives and careers, her commitment to equality deepened. She met Barack Obama at the law firm they both worked at and married him in 1992. As she later wrote, she loved his “deep-seated sense of empathy” and pushed him to “keep fighting for people who needed him.” Ultimately, she campaigned vigorously for Barack during the hard-won presidential race, breaking new ground as the first African-American First Lady.

Since departing The White House, Obama continues to champion young leaders, particularly girls and women of color. Her bestselling memoir, Becoming, intimately shares her personal journey toward claiming her voice. “I’ve learned it’s okay to own your story and use it the way that feels right for you,” she explained during her wildly popular book tour. Other ongoing initiatives include Let’s Move! for combating childhood obesity and Let Girls Learn to expand access to schooling.

Above all, Michelle Obama leads by example – staying true to her background and boldly speaking her truth after a lifetime of practice. “My parents showed me how to use my own voice,” she reflects, “Music helps me tap into my own strength; I especially love Stevie Wonder!” Ever graceful yet outspoken, she bridges divides by recognizing our shared dreams for family, equality and dignity. In all she does, Michelle Obama calls us to honor the values that make America hopeful and constantly push toward a more just and compassionate nation. As she often says: “When they go low, we go high.”

An Unlikely Beginning

As Obama describes her childhood and adolescence on the South Side of Chicago, her account feels more like a conversation with an old friend than the memoir of a global public figure. She paints a vivid picture of life in a small apartment shared with her parents, older brother, and great aunt. As African Americans striving to claim their own version of the American Dream in the 1960s and 70s, the Robinson family epitomized both the struggles and aspirations of black families during this era.

Family Bonds

A constant theme throughout Obama’s life is the importance of family. It’s clear her parents, Fraser and Marian Robinson, provided her and her brother Craig with unwavering love and support. She describes her great aunt, Robbie, who lived with them, as “a real character” who taught her lessons about independence and nonconformity. Obama’s aunts, uncles and grandparents were also central figures, playing card games, discussing neighborhood gossip, and enjoying summer vacations together. Through Obama’s engaging writing style, her relatives feel as dear to the reader as our own kin.

Ivy League Bound

From early on, Obama was a diligent student with dreams of escaping her isolated neighborhood. She describes the profound culture shock she experienced when leaving home for Princeton University as an undergraduate. The school’s gothic buildings and predominantly white population seemed utterly foreign to Obama after her working-class upbringing. This eye-opening transition from Chicago’s South Side to the Ivy League fuels Obama’s compassion for young people struggling to find their place in unfamiliar environments.

Falling in Love with Barack Obama

In one of the memoir’s most charming sections, Obama chronicles her courtship with fellow lawyer Barack Obama. She paints a humorously skeptical portrait of her initial impressions, citing his unusual name, unremarkable appearance, and nerdy lecturing tendencies as minus points. However, it soon became clear a deep intellectual and emotional connection was forming between them. Their early days were filled with lengthy conversations about politics, social issues, and their hopes for the future over dinners in cozy Chicago restaurants. When Obama describes falling head-over-heels for Barack, one can’t help but feel a glimmer of the electricity between the extraordinary couple who would make history together.

Balancing Love and Career

After tying the knot, the Obamas experienced all the classic struggles of young married professionals striving to balance a committed relationship with demanding careers. Obama completed her graduate studies at Harvard Law while Barack served in the state senate back in Illinois. She openly discusses the strains on their marriage caused by this long distance as well as miscarriages and fertility treatments. Ultimately, her sacrifices paid off with acceptance to her dream job in Chicago’s City Hall. Her evolution from lawyer to high-powered executive highlights Obama’s brilliance and tenacity in navigating workplace challenges faced by millions of women.

A Family of Their Own

Of course, no chapter of Michelle Obama’s life compares to the blessings and anxieties of raising two spirited daughters in the public eye. Motherhood softened Obama, helping her to put ambitions and busy schedules into proper perspective. She writes affectionately of daughters Malia and Sasha, striving to provide them with normalcy under such unusual circumstances. The Obamas remind us that despite wealth or fame, joys and challenges of parenting remain universal. Obama’s touching stories about her girls humanize this glamorous family.

Life in the White House

Naturally, America is eager to hear Obama’s take on nearly a decade spent in the most famous residence in the nation. She discusses political and historical implications of being the first black presidential family along with many lighthearted anecdotes. In humble yet vivid detail, Obama recalls famous visitors, state dinners, travels abroad, and raising teenagers under constant surveillance. She also tackles difficult moments, like absorbing harsh criticism of her husband and shielding her daughters from danger. This insider’s view of the White House provides rare insight into the privilege and pressure of life in the public eye.

Adjusting to a Fishbowl Existence

While living in the White House was occasionally surreal, Obama worked hard to create normalcy behind the scenes. She writes candidly about the difficulties of making friends, maintaining relationships, and even taking a simple walk in Washington, D.C. As she notes wryly, life in “the People’s House” meant spending a lot of time with “the people”. Between tours, teas, correspondences, causes and entertaining endless visitors and dignitaries, finding true privacy proved nearly impossible. Still, Obama found meaning and connection through her roles as mother, wife, advocate, and First Lady.

Embracing a Higher Purpose

Obama’s ambitious yet relatable agenda as First Lady focused largely on nutrition, fitness, education, and empowering young women and girls. She writes passionately about memorable interactions with dynamic students and community leaders. Her refreshing candor regarding moments of self-doubt makes her perseverance and compassion all the more remarkable. She emerges from her White House years as living proof that it is possible to follow dreams far beyond even your wildest imagination. Through discipline, willingness to take risks, maintaining balance and perspective, Obama encourages all women to embrace our power to transform ourselves and our communities.

The Journey Continues

True to form, Obama avoids pretentiousness or self-congratulations in reflecting on her extraordinary path. She acknowledges the randomness of destiny and impossibility of truly “having it all”. She describes both public triumphs and private losses with humility, humor and wisdom hard-earned through experience. She urges readers to write their own stories without fear and defines success as staying true to one’s deepest self. This relatable memoir truly embodies Obama’s authentic spirit.

Obama’s romantic, yet rollicking tale avoids cliches of the typical rags-to-riches, American Dream saga. She grounds lofty aspirations in universal themes of family, community and self-discovery. She has emerged from anonymity to become a definitive voice of her generation. This book cements her legacy as a woman who epitomizes grace, grit, charisma and courage.

Why You Should Read “Becoming”

In our divisive times, Michelle Obama’s story highlights how more connects than divides us. Her challenges and triumphs mirror our own. Her authenticity, intelligence and humor are infectious. “Becoming” is enjoyable yet profound, timely yet timeless. This deeply personal memoir manages to inspire readers to embrace our own unique journeys of becoming.

Similar Recommended Reads:

  • “Lust for Life” by Irving Stone – A biographical novel about the life of the famous Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh. Stone vividly captures Van Gogh’s passionate personality, his struggle with mental illness, and his desire to find purpose as an artist. I’d recommend this book if you want an emotional and insightful perspective into one of history’s most renowned artists.
  • “The Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank – A first-hand account of a young Jewish girl’s time in hiding with her family during World War II and the Holocaust. Frank movingly conveys the claustrophobia of her experience, the relationships with those around her, and her hopes for freedom amidst the terror of discovery. This remains one of the most powerful personal records of a defining moment in human history. I’d recommend this book if you want to connect on a deeper level with the human impact of the Holocaust.
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  • “Girl, Wash Your Face” by Rachel Hollis – Relatable life lessons from a viral sensation who encourages women to live joyfully.


What inspired Michelle Obama to write her memoir Becoming?

In Becoming, Michelle Obama shares the story of her life growing up on the South Side of Chicago, her education at Princeton University and Harvard Law School, meeting Barack Obama and falling in love, her career, motherhood, time as First Lady, and the transition period after leaving the White House. She wrote the book in response to countless requests over the years from people asking her to reflect on her unexpected path that led her to become the first African American First Lady of the United States. Writing Becoming was an opportunity for Michelle to inspire others by showing that even if one doesn’t have a predictable or straightforward path, with dedication and support, one can still accomplish great things.

What were some of the early influences in Michelle Obama’s life?

As described in Becoming, some of the key early influences that shaped Michelle Obama were her parents Fraser and Marian Robinson, her older brother Craig Robinson, and the community environment of the South Side Chicago neighborhood where she grew up. Her father Fraser and her mother Marian taught her the values of hard work, determination, and making one’s voice heard. Craig, who was a basketball talent, inspired Michelle’s competitive side as she strove to match his achievements in academics and beyond. The South Side community where Michelle came of age also played a role in shaping her worldview and identity with its strong sense of extended families and community support.

What were some of Michelle Obama’s professional accomplishments before becoming First Lady?

Before stepping into the global spotlight as First Lady, Michelle Obama was an accomplished attorney and professional. After earning her law degree from Harvard, Michelle worked at the prestigious Chicago law firm Sidley Austin, where she met Barack Obama. Later in her career Michelle moved into public service roles including working as Assistant Commissioner of Planning and Development for the City of Chicago and founding the Chicago chapter of Public Allies, a program with the aim of preparing the future generations of leaders for the public sector. Her professional achievements helped prepare her for the challenges she would tackle later as First Lady.

What causes did Michelle Obama champion during her time as First Lady?

As a First Lady devoted to public service, Michelle Obama led initiatives supporting education, nutrition and health, and female empowerment during her time in the White House. Notable causes she championed included her Let’s Move campaign to combat childhood obesity through healthier living and her work expanding educational opportunities for high school aged girls in developing countries through the Let Girls Learn program. She also advocated for military families via her Joining Forces initiative. Her deep commitment to supporting children and families helped define her legacy as First Lady.

How did Michelle and Barack Obama meet?

As Michele recounts in her memoir, she first met her future husband Barack Obama back in 1989 when he was a summer associate at the Chicago law firm Sidley Austin where she was already an attorney. Senior partners at the firm invited Michelle to act as Barack’s advisor during his time at Sidley and they were immediately struck by one another’s intelligence and shared a sense of purpose. However, it would take several years before they developed a romantic connection. After Barack’s first kiss attempt, Michelle finally agreed to date him and the rest is history.

What is Becoming known for concerning Michelle Obama’s relationship with Queen Elizabeth II?

One of the buzzworthy aspects of Michelle Obama’s memoir Becoming was a story she recounted about a breach of protocol on her part during a visit with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. On her first trip to visit the Queen at Buckingham Palace, Michelle briefly placed her hand on Her Majesty’s back to guide assistance navigating steps to a stage. In the book Michelle explains she later learned it is against protocol to touch the Queen. While intended as a thoughtful gesture, this incident became a viral, lighthearted example underscoring Michelle Obama’s authentic and warm approach even amid the formality of her role as First Lady.

How did Michelle and Barack Obama work to ensure a smooth transition once leaving the White House?

As described in Becoming, Michelle and Barack made laying the groundwork for a positive transition once leaving office a key priority near the end of their term as President and First Lady. This included putting together extensive policy and operational reference manuals for the incoming administration and meeting with Donald and Melania Trump during the transition period. Michelle also gathered a small transition team to archive eight years worth of administration files and materials. Despite differences between Barack Obama and Donald Trump’s visions for America, ensuring a functioning transition was a reflection of Michelle and Barack’s consistent dedication to democratic principles and the wellbeing of the country.

What types of stories and themes are covered in Becoming?

In Becoming, Michelle Obama recounts pivotal moments in her life ranging from growing up on the South Side of Chicago, to navigating being an Ivy League and Harvard Law student as a minority, building her career, meeting Barack Obama, the joys and challenges of parenthood, her historic role becoming First Lady, and adjusting back to civilian life. Woven throughout these personal stories are themes of family, community, hard work, perseverance, self-doubt and confidence, race and identity in America, public service, and what defines a meaningful life. Michelle shares her high and lows moments with honesty, warmth, humor and compassion.

What inspired Michelle Obama to launch the Global Girls Alliance advocacy group?

Near the end of Becoming, Michelle Obama explains what motivated her decision to launch the Global Girls Alliance advocacy group after transitioning out of the White House. As First Lady, expanding access to education for girls in developing nations had been an issue close to Michelle’s heart. Her visits with students around the world revealed the barriers girls face pursing schooling including cultural norms, access to menstrual health resources, forced child marriage and more. The Global Girls Alliance aims to support grassroots leaders removing these obstacles preventing more than 98 million adolescent girls worldwide the chance to complete an education. Improving access to education aligned powerfully with Michelle’s core belief that “empowering young women changes the world.”

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