#SavoirFlairReads: ‘Becoming’ by Michelle Obama

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Becoming by Michelle Obama
Photo: Courtesy of Borders

A candid and inspiring memoir from one of the most iconic women of our times.

Who is Michelle Obama? A Google search, as unnecessary as it may be, yields bountiful results. Michelle Obama is an Ivy League graduate, a lawyer, a writer, a university administrator, a wife, a mother, and the 44th First Lady of the United States of America. She also is – by her own admission – “the only woman, the only African-American, in all sorts of rooms”. But, really, who is Michelle Obama? Can a Wikipedia page, a news article, or even an in-depth feature answer this question to any degree of satisfaction? For starters, she’s an individual who owns her story.

In her memoir Becoming, our pick for the first installment of SF Book Club, Obama sheds light on it all: from her coming-of-age story and her journey as a mother to her experience as the first and only African-American First Lady in America’s history. She breaks the ice with her strikingly candid narrative in the first two sections of the book, talking us through her working-class family residing in the South Side of Chicago, where she “spent much of [her] childhood listening to the sound of striving”.

We then get to know Obama as a working mother in pursuit of that elusive work-life balance – or “a little bit June Cleaver, a little bit Mary Tyler Moore” as she describes it. We empathize and relate to the individual who – despite her endless triumphs and accomplishments – struggles with silencing the voice in her head asking, “Am I good enough?” The individual who, despite a combination of self-doubt and “scrutiny of the American gaze”, gathers her inner strength and answers, “Yes, I am.”

But what we found most refreshing was how Obama tackled all manner of conventionally taboo topics head on: the burdensome weight of imposter syndrome, the lonely devastation of a miscarriage, the sobering realization that your professional path is no longer in line with your greater purpose, a relationship on the verge of falling apart, and the decision to seek couples counseling. With plenty of bravery – and a side of humor and irony – she ignites conversations about the painful struggles that so many of us carry silently inside. And for that, we thank her as, chapter after chapter, we can’t help but see ourselves in the First Lady’s story.

4 out of 5 stars

Our verdict?

‘Becoming’ is available at all branches of Borders. Find more details here.

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