Michelle Obama’s bestselling memoir BECOMING has literally taken the world by storm breaking sales records to become this year’s best-selling book.

I was aware of the book and its pending release, but I must admit I was not particularly compelled to buy it because I had read Dreams From My Father by Barrack Obama years ago and having closely followed their political lives, I arrogantly felt I knew the Obamas and their story well!

I could not be more wrong.

I woke up one morning to see the book trending on twitter and on my Instagram profile following Michelle Obama's book tour in London.

She had made a comment about Sheryl Sandberg's Lean not working for everyone!

The noise was loud, and the reviews posted on social media were so compelling that I decided to buy a copy and to see for myself what the hype was all about. That is the power of social media in the digital world we live in.

The book has been a complete revelation. It shares candid behind the scenes stories of the Obama’s life before becoming public figures. It takes you through their pre-political careers, life in frontline politics and finally leaving the White House at the end of an eight-year tenure in office.

The memoir has opened my eyes to the darker side of politics. Michelle Obama writes from an outsider’s perspective and gives you a chance to hear her side of the headline-making stories we read whilst they were in office.

I must admit that I felt sorry for Michelle Obama whilst reading the book as she seemed to abhor politics but was thrust into it and the public eye because of her husband's rising fame.

That must have been difficult for a woman who simply wanted a private life to come to terms with. I am sure many partners will relate to this story. Having to give up a career, way of life, your home, your choices and even your freedom and privacy to follow another person's dreams and the challenges you then face in finding yourself, your voice and your own place in it all.

The memoir validated my own journey as a working mum and all the challenges and scrutiny you face when you dare to be bold and to use your voice to champion issues that matter to you. I laughed, I felt tearful and rejoiced as I read her memoir.  Her honesty about their home life, their worries about childcare, being saddled with student debt, juggling work and family life, the struggles of sharing your life with a partner who is just as ambitious and invested in their work were a real revelation and refreshing to read. I could relate to every single one of those challenges. I also cried when my nanny gave in her notice! It seems insignificant but any family with working parents understands the pain of the loss of good quality childcare and the profound impact it can have on your ability to meet your professional commitments.

One of my favourite stories in the memoir is Michelle Obama recalling turning up for an interview with her baby! She had all but given up with finding childcare and simply decided to take her baby to the interview with her. She then proceeded to negotiate a salary that will enable her to do her best work without worrying about childcare and her student debt repayments. The fact that she still got the job is a huge lesson in self-belief, confidence and learning to ask for what you believe you need to do your best work. It is also a testament to the progressive open-mindedness of her past employers.

I also always wondered how she gave such emotionally rousing speeches seemingly without using any prompts. Now I know! She was so engaging and authentic because she always spoke from the heart about issues that mattered to her. Her authenticity and refusal to be anything other than herself, even in the face of harsh media and public scrutiny is inspiring.

The memoir made me see the Obamas as human. The Obamas are everyday people with the same challenges and triumphs as any one of us. We tend to see anyone on a podium especially a President and First Lady as having some superpowers that enable them to be and to do what they do. Reading this book gave me hope because the Obamas are regular people who allowed themselves to dream. Very early on in their careers, they surrounded themselves with people that believed in them, counselled them and supported them along the way. It was interesting to read how they used their support networks, mentors and advisers.

Having said that, I am sure it takes some super-human powers to regularly wake up at 4:30 am to fit in exercise after the hectic daily schedule she describes in the book! That is what Michelle Obama did to give her the energy, strength and space needed to be her best self.

What I love about the book is the honesty of it all, Michelle Obama leaves no stone unturned in this memoir and bares it all from the trials and triumphs that took her to the white house and beyond. I have read many political memoirs but I cannot remember enjoying one as much as I have Michelle Obama’s memoir.  I would absolutely recommend this book to anybody looking to dream again but also have hope that good things do happen to good people. I have nothing but praise for this book.

I picked Michelle Obama’s memoir sceptical about its content and I finished it renewed and inspired to keep going and to keep dreaming. That is the power of a great and well-written book.

Griselda

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2 Comments

  • Ranjit Arora says:

    I found the article interesting and it certainly inspired me to buy this book.

  • I do a book review for our local newspaper and chose this book because it had been at the top of the best seller list for a while. Like you I was a bit cynical before I read it expecting it to be a sanitised biography - how wrong was I ! I ended up liking Michelle Obama more than I had done before [ and I had a lot of admiration for her] and applaud her honesty.
    I loved her comment on Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In - when I first started work there was a book by Shirley Conran about having it all as a woman which I think made a lot of my generation of working women feel alternatively guilty or under achieving - thank you Michelle for highlighting we are all human !
    I think its a pity Michelle has no interest in politics as she would be a force for good - but then she is that anyway.

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