I heard the audiobook of Becoming on Amazon Audible, and this review is based on that experience.
Author – Michelle Obama
Available in paperback, kindle and audible versions.
Performed by–Michelle Obama
“If you don’t go out there and define yourself, you will be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.”
I had my eye on Becoming for some time now but was hesitant about picking it. I assumed (wrongly so) that the book would be all about motivation and pep talk, with no actual experiences that I could relate to. I also feared it would be a watered down, glossed over memoir to protect the optics of that time or even be a way to introduce Michelle before she declares to be running for President.
The book smashed most of my doubts pleasantly. For one, Michelle Obama’s book–Becoming is a deeply personal account of a minority woman who wishes to motivate girls around the world. I knew little about Michelle Obama, other than she was the First Lady of USA, and hence it was refreshing to know about her middle class upbringing and the initiatives that she championed while being in the White House.
The book starts with Michelle Obama describing her childhood and the way her minority middle class working parents spent everything they had in providing quality education to their children. It reminded me of my childhood and the millions of other middle-class families in India that live and work only to ensure that their children might have excellent education and better opportunities in life.
It talks about her as a person with personal ambitions and dreams. I could relate to her when she spoke about working hard and progressing on what seemed to be the right career path, only to realize some time later that it wasn’t her true calling. It talks about the fears she had when changing track in her career and wondering if she was setting herself up for failure.
Michelle Obama talks about her personal struggle as a career woman when supporting Barack Obama’s political career and managing her home and the girls single handedly when Barack Obama was a senator and was shuttling between Chicago and Springfield, Illinois.
“For me becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim but a forward motion, a means of evolving. The journey doesn’t end.”
Michelle Obama is vocal about her dislike for politics and the way it affects both personal and professional lives of those involved. She talks about the trade-off’s that she had to make as the wife of a politician and presidential candidate. She talks about the initial hesitations and finding a voice while being the First Lady of USA.
Things I loved about Becoming the audiobook
- It is genuine and comes from a right place where Michelle Obama champions equal opportunities for minorities and women. Her performance is impressive and connects instantly, maybe because it is a personal experience that she is retelling.
- Michelle does a decent job in voice modulation, and I think it was good that she did it herself instead of a professional artist as it makes it more interesting to hear it from her.
- She presents her personal side of being ambitious, a career woman, a change maker and a mother worried about her children’s safety and upbringing while in the public life.
- Michelle takes a measured and mature approach towards racism, stereotyping and preconceived notions among both minorities and whites. While she illustrates racial undertones and struggles of an African American, she also points to the mistrust and preconceived notions among African Americans against the whites.
- She opens up about her apprehensions of stepping into the limelight as a Presidential candidate’s wife, her fear of public scrutiny and the learnings that she had as she went ahead in supporting her husband.
- Michelle talks about the worries of a mother of two growing up girls while living in the White House, the intense media glare and the awkwardness of the enormous planning that came with letting her girls have a night out with friends or an ice-cream run.
- She talks about the effort it took to be politically correct and doing what she truly believed in while maintaining the optics on it.
- More than anything, the book humanizes the Obama’s and their life before and at the White House.
- I was happy to learn that as the First Lady of USA she could bring about a meaningful difference in the lives of military families and in the areas of healthy living and upbringing of children across USA.
What didn’t work for me in Becoming the book
Her version of the life at White House seems to have been reviewed by the political pundits or their PR staff before going to press. While I understand there would be a lot of things that she cannot talk about directly, the book seems to focus on optics and glossed over in some parts.
Overall I rate the book a 4.5/5
I would definitely get my daughter to hear it as there are a lot of parts in the book that I could relate to as a daughter and as a mother and would want my daughter to understand my thoughts and feelings.
30 Replies to “Latest review: Becoming by Michelle Obama”
Wow what an inspirational book. I’ve always been a huge fan of Michelle Obama.
I’ve been itching to read this book. She’s one of the classiest First Ladies we’ve ever had, and she’s quite accomplished in a lot of areas. She’s a very impressive lady.
I read Becoming last year and it is a great book. So much like you, I do not know much about Michelle Obama before reading this book, and I started admiring her after reading it. Her eight years at the White House certainly was not easy, and I have learned a lot about her and Obama through this book.
I still have this book on my list of things to read. I just don’t have the time to get it down right now. I am glad you enjoyed it — I am looking forward to it!
I have not got my hands on this book yet! Your review comes at the right time. Thanks
Thanks for the review. I also have been thinking about this book and had my doubts. But it sounds like a good read!
I love her! I started reading her book last year and then got sidetracked. I have to get back to it.
Your review made me wanting to read this book.I really like Michelle Obama and she is an inspirational lady! I have read some of her experiences before and totally atracted.
Great woman. Never heard of her books. Good review. I think that the life of a public person is quite problematic.
“If you don’t go out there and define yourself, you will be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.” There is no stronger truth to life, than this! Also, I love how you express your thoughts on the back-room editing that was done to this collection of experiences shared by Michelle!
I just love her and now just can’t wait to read this book. Thanks for sharing this review, I might also go for audiobook.
My daughter recently made a podcast as her school project on Michelle Obama And thats when I got to know a lot more about her. I didn’t know that this book is in audio as well and that too in her voice. I would love to check it out.
I have read this book half Neha and then I dont know how I jumped to another one. I kind of agree to your review and will get back to read what i missed.
Michelle Obama is one of the few women that inspire respect just by the way they carry themselves. I want to read this book too and know more about her. Is the Audiobook better?
Wow after reading your review, feeling like to give this audiobook a try soon. michelle obama is an inspirational lady and I would love to know more about her life through this audiobook. hearing this, in her own voice would be a great experience.
I second her thought when she says if you don’t define yourself people take liberty to define you the way they want. Sharing your thoughts and opinions are very important. Lived your review and would like to give it a read.
Becoming book is on my list too Neha. You have very well listed all the pointers of the book, shall definitely pick it up.
Wow I’m sure I’ll love to read this book as she has written it from the real Michelle she is inside. I loved her aura and smile whenever I saw her on television. Yes it is better to hear the words from her instead from another writer.
I always thought highly of the Ex-first lady of the USA , Michelle Obama , she has been a role model for many. You have really given such a rave review that I really want to reach out for this book.
Would love to now more abut her than the first lady only. Everything about her seems inspiring. Would definitely check this out.
I admire Michelle Obama alot. would love to read the book and know more about her
I have also started reading this one. I am half way through and loving every bit of it.
Thanks for sharing your review, this book looks really interesting. I really admire Michelle Obama would surely check out this one.
Michelle Obama is an inspirational lady . I have read her another book and was completely in love with her thought . I will give this book a try also.
I’ve been eyeing this book for sme time now and I should get my hands on it after reading this review. Rather I will also go for the audible version to hear Michelle’s story in her own voice.
This sounds like an inspirational book, and I have been hearing good things about it. I like your in-depth review. I will check this out.
I have been an ardent admirer of Michelle Obama. She definitely carries an positive aura that inspires you in so many ways. Is it available in paperback?? Want to read this book so badly now.
This book is still lying in my Amazon cart because he was I am unsure of what it would be about. All the reviews I read were not clear enough for me to pick up the book. Reading your article definitely definitely wants me to pick this book up and read it right away
This book has my heart. I bought this last year and read it in a week. Absolutely loved the way it has been penned and not to forget Michelle Obama is indeed a force to reckon with.
This is a book that I had purchased after hearing so many positive reviews, Unfortunately, I haven’t read it yet and it is calling out to me from my bookshelf. Thanks for sharing this review, reminding me to pick it up and read.