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In her memoir, Becoming, , Michelle Obama,the first African American First Lady of United States of America, invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her, from her childhood to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the White House.  It has sold more copies than any other book published in the United States in 2018, breaking the record in just 15 days. Let’s learn about Michelle and her memoir Becoming.

“I’m an ordinary person who found herself on an extraordinary journey. In sharing my story, I hope to help create space for other stories and other voices, to widen the pathway for who belongs and why.” — MICHELLE OBAMA

Michelle Obama

Michelle LaVaughn Obama (née Robinson; born January 17, 1964) was the first lady of the United States from 2009 to 2017.  She is married to the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama, who was the first African-American President. But she is also an American lawyer, university administrator, writer and a mother.

As First Lady of the United States of America, she helped create a welcoming and inclusive White House in history. Changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, She also established herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world. She supported American designers and was considered a fashion icon. All the while standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments.

  • “Do we settle for the world as it is, or do we work for the world as it should be?”
  • “If you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.”
  • “It was possible that I was more in charge of my happiness than I was allowing myself to be.”

About Becoming

With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private. She tells her full story as she has lived it, in her own words. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman who has steadily defied expectations and whose story inspires us to do the same.

“For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end.” 

The book has 24 chapters with a preface and epilogue. It is divided into three sections:

  • Becoming Me,
  • Becoming Us
  • Becoming More.

Becoming Me

Become Me traces Obama’s early life growing up in the black, middle-class area of Chicago (on the South Side of Chicago), through her education at Princeton University and Harvard Law School, to her early career as a lawyer at the law firm Sidley Austin, where she met Barack Obama.

How was her journey? She was a female and black and was not from a rich background. But her parents encouraged her to study.

“I was female, black, and strong, which to certain people, maintaining a certain mind-set, translated only to ‘angry.’ It was another damaging cliché, one that’s been forever used to sweep minority women to the perimeter of every room, an unconscious signal not to listen to what we’ve got to say.”

There is an oft-cited maxim in the black community You’ve got to be twice as good to get half as far.

When she told was interested in joining her older brother, Craig, at Princeton University. The guidance counsellor said to her, “I’m not sure that you’re Princeton material.” How did she handle hearing that statement? How does one avoid having one’s dreams dislodged by someone else’s lower expectations?

Becoming Us

Becoming Us departs from the beginning of their romantic relationship and follows their marriage, the beginning of his political career in the Illinois State Senate. The section ends with election night in 2008 when Barack Obama was elected President of the United States.

“Barack intrigued me. He was not like anyone I’d dated before, mainly because he seemed so secure. He was openly affectionate. He told me I was beautiful. He made me feel good. To me, he was sort of like a unicorn—unusual to the point of seeming almost unreal. He never talked about material things, like buying a house or a car or even new shoes. His money went largely toward books, which to him were like sacred objects, providing ballast for his mind. He read late into the night, often long after I’d fallen asleep, plowing through history and biographies and Toni Morrison, too. 

As a young professional, Michelle seemingly had it all—a great job, a great wardrobe, and a clear path to great things in a top-notch Chicago law firm. But she writes, “In my blinding drive to excel, in my need to do things perfectly, I’d missed the signs and taken the wrong road.” She decides to change careers to focus on public service

She reveals difficulties in her marriage with Barack, disclosing details of how the couple suffered a miscarriage and later used in vitro fertilisation (IVF) to conceive both children, Malia and Sasha. She also opened about how they went to a marriage counsellor.

Becoming More

Becoming More describes their life as the first family. She said the First Family felt the weight of being First American Family when they moved into the White House. “Any error or lapse in judgment, we knew, would be magnified, read as something more than what it was” The First Lady is a role without a job description.  How did Michelle choose to approach the role?

Malia and Sasha Obama were young children when their father was elected president. How did the Obamas balance the need to protect their daughters’ safety with the desire to allow them to grow and become independent?

She talks about the bills the President of America has to pay(Yes, they have to pay for food and guests they entertain). Her dresses? How she envied that her husband just had to choose a tuxedo and decide whether to wear a tie or a jacket. But her dresses were put through scrutiny. How she started a kitchen garden in White House and Let’s Move program. Instead of giving interviews to National News Channel, she gave interviews to Ellen Degeneres, Appeared in Sesame Street to promote her ideas.

Michelle also criticises the current US President, Donald Trump, writing that she can “never forgive” him for “putting my family’s safety at risk” over his championing of the “birther” theory that her husband was not born in the US and thus was not a legitimate president of the US. “I’ve never been a fan of politics, and my experience over the last ten years has done little to change that.”

Publisher, Sales Figures of Becoming

Penguin Random House paid $60m (£48m) in 2017 for the rights to the book alongside that of former US President Barack Obama.

The memoir, Becoming was published on November 12, 2018. Mr Obama’s book is yet to be published.

By March 26, 2019, Becoming had sold 10 million copies.

Obama went on a national book tour to sold-out crowds. The initial tour included 12 venues in 10 cities, but expanded with its popularity; as of February 2019, another 21 cities had been added, including six in Europe and four in Canada.

It was also recommended by Oprah book club.

Barack Obama is the author of the bestsellers Dreams from My Father and The Audacity of Hope.

Michelle Obama has written American Grown: a book about food and gardening.

It is a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling. What does the idea of “becoming” mean to you?