Published in 2018, Becoming by Michelle Obama is a memoir of the First Lady of the US between the years 2008-2016. When I picked up the book, it was out of sheer curiosity. How would someone like Michelle, in her biography, go on to narrate every detail of her upbringing and her tenure at the white house, honestly. Politics has its share of controversies and conflicts. I was apprehensive on whether this book would speak of anything deeper than what we usually see on the surface.
Anyway, as you begin reading Becoming, you’re easily drawn into Michelle’s storytelling. She voluntarily or maybe involuntarily used devices like foreshadowing to keep you coming back for more. Becoming doesn’t keep you hooked for hours on end, but the fact that it keeps you coming back every time is easily a reason to give it a rating as such.
She delves into her experiences growing up as a coloured individual. First as a child in school, then in college, at work, and soon as FLOTUS. She opens up about her apprehensions of Barack running for President and what the entire campaign did to her and her family emotionally, intellectually and physically. You’re drawn to her human-ness in the midst of it all, at how even at such a high and integral position, she was still a mother, a wife and an ardent gardener.
Her discoveries of self almost turn into reflective reading, leaving you relating to her, at multiple points in her story. And yet, while you empathize, you’ll never really relate with what it feels like to be coloured in the white house. Becoming gets as close to that recognition as it gets. You don’t need to have any kind of knowledge of US politics to understand this book.
It’s simple, it’s heart-warming and very down to earth. Right from Michelle and Barack’s courtship years to tense and gruesome moments in their family life, from celebrating with the country and mourning with it too; every detail in the book leaves you in awe of this powerful, humble, still learning, woman. She did everything in her capacity to own the role she took up by way of her husband’s presidency.
You also get to know Barack Obama as the family man you rarely saw in the papers on your news channel. You come to know of him, beyond the role he played as President of the US.
This book is America through the eyes of one of the most American African Americans you know. It is a look at racism, it holds a mirror up to violence and even sheds light on health. All of this set against the background of the United States of America.
Bingewagon Rating: 4/5
Featured Image courtesy: Amazon.in
Title Image courtesy: Penguin Books
An avid binge-reader and an occasional binge-watcher, Marilyn D'Cruz is a copywriter by profession but a storyteller by heart.