Within Book Club it was voted that February’s book of the month would be Becoming by Michelle Obama and as we gradually slip into March (yes, it’s March again already!), what better way to bring in Women’s month than by reading the autobiography of the iconic First Lady of the United States.
Michelle Obama’s book itself is split up into three sections each fittingly titled “Becoming Me”, “Becoming Us” and “Becoming More”. Each section delves into Michelle Obama’s life, before she met her husband, before she became a mother, even before she became a lawyer, Becoming focuses on Obama’s life as if under a microscope showing how every memory has shaped who she became. In the beginning, Obama writes with deep reflection of her childhood and how she grew up surrounded by family in the South Side of Chicago, witnessing remarkable socio-economic changes occur at the time. Since a child it is shown that Obama was a strong and hardworking character, making sure to do her homework before playing with her dolls. Within her memoir the most critical judgment in her childhood is from herself. The first instance this is recalled from the author is when she assiduously studies after spelling a single colour wrong in her pre-school class and returns the next day to making the teacher test her again to reflect how she had improved. It is this hold of the idea of perfection that pushes Obama to study Law at Harvard after her Princeton graduation.
Obama’s graduation from Harvard helped secure her a job in the city of Chicago, her office once a place that she passed in mesmerising awe as she travelled to school. Although a key thing she remembered from her bus journeys were the mundaneness of those who entered the building yet became one of the “formal” office workers. In her memoir Michelle recognises how she was subconsciously pushed into working at the law firm due to societal standards, ones that are predominant in houses where children pursue a further education than their parents had in order to ‘better’ themselves and to break the ‘cycle’. Despite working at the law firm for years and becoming more unhappy, Obama recognised what he actually wanted to do and put plans into action.
By writing about how she left her associate job and started to work in the city hall, Obama helps to inspire those who do not know what they want to do yet. This is shown as she recalls her change of jobs proving that it is never too late to start living for yourself and working for what makes you happy.
This theology is shown throughout the rest of the book as later in the Becoming Us section, Obama explains how she juggled what she wanted and what she had as well as what was possible. By bouncing around several community driven jobs, both Michelle and Barack Obama had shown that optimism is driven by passion.
Within the last third of the book the Obama recalls new initiatives she set out careful not to step on Barack’s toes, as she learnt how the media is judgmental of women ‘overstepping their place’. Still being cautious she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, disclosed through her recalls of how she extensively prepared something to be in part done before publicising it (the Lets Move! Initiative, gardening and the Halloween party to name a few).
Becoming is a memoir written from a place of warmth and comfort as Obama recalls those, she tried to aid who were in need, whilst simultaneously establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls around the world. Becoming shows that hard work pays off and that passion is the real driving change for anyone. Michelle Obama’s memoir reflects on how her husband’s presidency dramatically changed the ways that her family operated yet made sure to pursue her goals of making those watching her to follow a more healthier, more active and more positive lives.