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BECOMING by  Michelle Obama |Nonfiction, memoir| 421 Pages (hardback)

Review by JENNIFER UGBOH

“ Even when it’s not pretty or perfect; even when it’s more real than you want it to be. Your story is what you have, what you will always have. it is something to own”.

Iconic, impressionable, inspiring are only a few of the words that come to mind when I think of Michelle Obama. In reality, these words do no justice to describe this formidable woman who exemplifies and embodies the term Black girl Magic.

In Becoming, Michelle Obama gives a refreshingly honest recount of the events of her life. From growing up in the South Side of Chicago to being a working class black student at a fancy mostly white college, to dealing with grief, to falling in love, getting married, the struggles of staying married, her battles with IVF, the pressure of raising children in the harsh glare of the world, the constant judgment and criticism that comes with living In the White House, the distasteful side of politics, the weight of her position as the FLOTUS warring against her desire to stay true to herself.

She has never been one to conform to society’s ideas of who she should or shouldn’t be

Skimming through the pages, it almost feels like you are having an intimate chat with a close friend. With her words, Michelle paints a vivid picture of her life which can be broken into different seasons; a tale beautifully interwoven designed to inspire hope.

Michelle LaVaughn Robinson – Girl from the South Side

She has never been one to conform to society’s ideas of who she should or shouldn’t be. As a little girl, she might have not known how the trajectory of her life would go or what lay ahead for her, but she wasn’t going to be boxed up – “When I was a kid, my aspirations were simple. I wanted a dog. I wanted a house. I used to tell people that when I grew up, I was going to be a pediatrician. Now I think it’s one of the most useless questions an adult can ask a child – what do you want to be when you grow up? As if growing up is finite. As if at some point you become something and that’s the end.”

This girl from the south side went on to chart a course for her life, going on to Princeton – one of the only black women at the time

This girl from the south side went on to chart a course for her life, going on to Princeton – one of the only black women at the time, and then to Harvard. From being a Lawyer, to a working as a vice president at a hospital, to serving as a director at a non-profit, to occupying the office of the First Lady.  Through her journey in Becoming, she shows how growth is indeed continuous and how it is possible to be multifaceted.

Michelle Obama – the First African-American FLOTUS

For Michelle her dreams never included being a First Lady, so when her husband the “exotic geek” with the “noble heart and encyclopedic head” that she fell in love with became entangled in politics, life as she knew it for herself and her family was upturned. She was forced to deal with the new heaviness as she describes it. All too soon, she was confronted with the reality of the power and responsibility that came with her new position. She talks about adjusting to the new normal, the determination to use her platform for a greater good and her desire to make the white house an inclusive place for all, all the while staying true to the values that were Instilled in her by her parents from a young age.

It is a powerful timely reminder that hard work, determination and optimism will take you far no matter where you are from

“I am an ordinary person who found herself on an extraordinary journey. In sharing my story, I hope to create space for other stories and other voices, to widen the pathway for who belongs and why… it’s not about being perfect, it’s not about where you get yourself in the end. There’s power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice. And there’s grace in being willing to know and hear others. This for me is how we become.”

This book is for everyone on their journey to becoming. It is a powerful timely reminder that hard work, determination and optimism will take you far no matter where you are from and that is my take-home.  

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