Thursday, July 9, 2020

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Title:  Becoming

Author: Michelle Obama

Read by:  Michelle Obama

Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group

Length: Approximately 19 hours and 10 minutes

Source: Overdrive through the Kewaunee Public Library 

Who is an inspirational figure in your life?  What put you on the path to where you are now?  Michelle Obama did not think growing up on the South side of Chicago that she would be one day be the first lady of the United States living in the White House.  Although she had a high school counselor who thought she had dreams too big to reach, she luckily had a supportive family that helped her to achieve her dreams.  Why would a high school counselor tell someone that they CAN’T do something?  Unfortunately, I heard this again in the current audiobook I’m listening to (Olympic Pride, American Prejudice).

I have been wanting to listen to this audiobook for quite some time and it was finally readily available in my library system.  I really liked listening to Michelle Obama read her audiobook herself.  She spoke with a conversational tone that made me feel like I was talking to a friend about her life.  Michelle wrote about her childhood, her marriage, children, career, and years in the White House.  I really loved her frank discussion on being a working mother and the choices that she has had to make.  As a fellow working mother, it was very relatable.  I too went down to part time after I had kids for six years and I also have had to reevaluate what I want to do in life and where I can make the most impact. You always get pushed to the highest paid jobs, but will they make the most difference in life?  I loved not only her story of meeting and falling in love with Barack, but how they had to work on making their marriage work.

As an engineer in the wastewater and water field, I LOVED that Michelle Obama’s father was a water operator at a water utility.  That was fantastic.  Obama’s childhood in South Chicago was relatable and similar to my upbringing with a big family in rural Michigan.

I love that Obama has made it her life mission to help to inspire people, especially young women, to be able to move beyond their circumstances and work towards their dreams.  It was inspiring to me.  “For every door that’s been opened to me, I’ve tried to open my door to others. And here is what I have to say, finally: Let’s invite one another in. Maybe then we can begin to fear less, to make fewer wrong assumptions, to let go of the biases and stereotypes that unnecessarily divide us. Maybe we can better embrace the ways we are the same. It’s not about being perfect. It’s not about where you get yourself in the end. There’s power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice. And there’s grace in being willing to know and hear others. This, for me, is how we become.”

“His money went largely toward books, which to him were like sacred objects, providing ballast for his mind.” I loved learning that Barack Obama is an obsessive reader just like me.  I also loved learning about how thoughtful his is in making decisions and working toward the good of all mankind.

I do have to admit that it all seemed relatable up to the point when Obama learned her daughter’s BMI was creeping up and she needed to figure out how to eat heathier with a packed schedule.  I thought – I’m in that exact same predicament.  But then she solved it by hiring a chef to come in a couple times a week and make healthy meals.  I laughed out loud!  I wish there would have been some tips on how to make it work if you don’t hire a chef and have limited time.

I have been obsessed with first lady biographies / autobiographies since I was a child.  I enjoy reading them and learning about all of our first ladies.  From the last few, I really enjoyed this one and Laura Bush’s book, Spoken from the Heart.  They were both relatable and made me feel like I would like to go to a BBQ with them and their families.  I tried to read Hilary Clinton’s autobiography when it first came out and could not get into it.  Unlike Bush and Obama’s books, it did not seem personable, but more of a political book to thank people and prove points.

I watched the Netflix Documentary Becoming while I was listening to this audiobook and I loved it.  It had highlights that were in the book but had other information that was not in the book. It also put faces to the names I was hearing about in the book and I really liked that.

Overall, Becoming was not only a great autobiography of a first lady, but a great book about finding your place in the world and inspiring others.  I really enjoyed it and the audiobook was a joy to listen to.

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