Saturday, December 8, 2018

Becoming. Michelle Obama. Crown Publishing Group. November 2018. $19.50; pb, 448 pp.; ISBN: 9781524763138.

Usually the public demands on the First Lady of the United States are minimal.  However, we live in times where division is rife and the public are starving for inspiration.  It’s a way of saying, “It’s all going to turn out right or at least as close as possible to right.”  So what is usually such a formidable demand on the President also attached to the First Lady.  Michelle Obama’s memoirs address many aspects of the goals that are expected of public figures.  Will all readers agree with the phases of her life that she describes in becoming me, becoming us, becoming more and the epilogue?  Probably not, but what a fine way to start understanding the ins and outs of the woman who became First Lady for eight years which clearly parallels the mental and emotional journey of America over those eight years of her service.

First, First Lady Obama takes readers into the formation of her educational journey and the establishment of a personality grounded in honesty, integrity and purpose.  She admirably describes her ascent from insecurity step-by-step.  Molded by a hard-working family and meeting the challenges of a father who was ill for many of her growing-up years and of living in a family of limited economic means, she accepted thrift but also accepted a sense of responsibility about handling finances.  Hard work was the journey she was to take to rise from those conditions, encouraged by her parents’ model and life experience.

It would be accurate to describe her education as “driven.” She was hungry to learn and that passion honored her drive with success.  Only after she wrestled through her college and legal education did she finally realize that her calling or passion was not to be law but in something connected to public service.  However, that separation was not as large as she seemed to experience.  That introductory period gave her an immense body of knowledge that she probably uses to this day.

On and on the story continues.  The strengths and weaknesses of a marriage, campaigning for political offices, the expectations of supporters and the hellish harangues of opponents, all in all an evolution of skills and learning how to handle the public and private aspects of her entire life fill these pages of riveting expression, exposure and internal debate.

Readers will love the light-hearted moments with the Obama children, the Secret Service and the friends and supporters of Michelle during each phase of her life, thoughts and responses to which every reader can relate.

This is a memoir that should be must reading for all who deeply care about the future of our country and those who have prominence and influence over goals and dreams.  But more than that, this book is just as important about growing in becoming a life-affirming, honest, humorous, intelligent and deeply caring human being.  There’s much more herein – enjoy sharing Michelle Obama’s life story to date – it’s so real!

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