Becoming has been on my TBR since before it was even published and I was finally able to read it (also listen to Michelle narrate it as well) because from what I had heard of her in many university / college commencement videos, I have liked.
To begin with, I find the book to be very, very slow paced and it took me over two weeks to read this 400 some pages.
I stared the book on the 14th of July and finished reading it on the 2nd of August which is not in keeping with my reading speed.
Now that I have got that out of the way, let me talk about the book itself. The content and how it all made me feel.
To begin with I was very excited to read how someone from a marginalised community made it this big (I say this because Michelle Obama may not have gone on to become a president but she is a successful woman in her own right as well).
The entire book held a lot of hope but somehow it left me feeling hopeless. If I were to guess, the book read more like self help than an autobiography and hopelessness is what I feel whenever I read a self help book.
As I mentioned earlier, I wanted to see the challenges she has faced and how she overcame them but the only challenges she talks about in the book are the ones she faced in Obama’s presidential campaigning and during her life in the White House but not the earlier years. The years that made the foundation of who she is today.
I am happy that she had all the love and opportunities that she had in her life, but the book felt more like reading about a privileged kid. Again, I do not begrudge her that but the title suggests that the book is about the process of who she is today when all her young life she had only followed her brother who has somehow made a path for her. But what about her thinking process? Her goals? Her dreams? Either she didn’t have any or she did not write about them in the book.
The school she attended was the neighborhood school. The high school she attended was not exactly her dream come true. Princeton? She was just following her brother. Now, I understand that she must have put in a lot of hard work into getting into Princeton and Harvard but what was the purpose? She never once sat down in all these years to think what she wants!
Even as a kid, she said she’d be a vet just because she thought people will like to hear that and respect her for that.
In keeping to that logic, she did achieve a great deal. A Black woman getting a seat at the table of mostly White Men was a tremendous achievement indeed.
But what does that impart? Go on despite your internal misery? Yes, she did change course but she had already become someone by then and had options then!
Her life until she met Obama is so very well penned with her going into details and all but why not about 9 years as she campaigned for Barack Obama and the time in the The White House? That feels like a rushed film with years gone in a jiffy! Now I do get that a lot will be confidential information that she cannot make public but then she is naming Secret Service Agents? I mean isn’t that information supposed to be like… secret?
Even when I was not voting was Obama (seeing that I am a Pakistani national), I was rooting for him from this far during his first campaign because him becoming the President of the United States would have been a huge milestone in the history of the country and obviously I think him a good man but the way she has portrayed him in the book is just too good to be true.
It is my belief that we are all flawed in one way or the other and while she is pretty open about talking of her own flaws, she has made her husband out to be some flawless, specimen of perfection which kind of dilutes my confidence in the man. My thinking is that there has to be something, some flaw in Barack Obama because he is a human being after all!
In a nutshell, this book left me kind of hopeless and wanting to make my dreams come true at the same time.