Sunday, October 20, 2019

Obama, Michelle (Becoming)

It might be true that Michelle Obama wrote this with a speechwriter from the White House. It's difficult to tell from the acknowledgements, and it's one of the few times that this book feels even a little bit disingenuous.

And that's the best thing about this memoir. She describes her life, she tells you what made her afraid, what made her happy, what circumstances of her life made it possible to become what she is. And I don't mean just marrying Barack Obama, although that is obviously a huge part of it. She describes some of the actions taken by first her parents, then herself, to lift her away from environments and settings that were only proving barriers to her obvious intelligence and skills. Because she was smart. She doesn't toot her own horn, but she tells you why those choices worked - and why she cares so much about giving children in the same circumstances as her childhood a fighting chance.

Of course, another marvelous thing she does is not let Barack Obama get away with anything. It is humorous, it is real, it is what you expect from a long-standing marriage of equals. And it has the added bonus of showcasing the human side - and the humanity - of his presidency.

She spends a lot of time also describing her concerns over raising her daughters in the White House, and that follows naturally into describing what programs were her causes during her time there. But we can't roll our eyes or take umbrage at her chance to do this, because the entire memoir has led up to it. It feels as real as the rest of the book.

There's a reason this book is a bestseller. She sells her tale and she sells us on her.

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