I like US leaders first and foremost as people, even if I don’t subscribe to their politics, and I like Michelle and Barack Obama, and their children. I went to “An Evening With Michelle O” in Saskatoon in March 2017 when she was on tour promoting her book, and I’ve just finished reading it. I’ve expressed my opinion below.
Michelle Obama is honest and raw in recounting details of her life, personal and public. I feel a lot of sympathy for her. Her reality is her own, and her perceptions form that reality even if others perceive things differently. It must have been difficult to write about the discrimination, pickings on her appearance and dress, the comparisons that were made. She is educated and can speak well, which makes me wonder about speech writers during her public life and a research team for the book. How much writing do they in fact do? Her story is hers, she underwent the experiences, but how much of the phrasing is hers (which is the writing process) and how much did other people write (this intrigued me as a writer)?
She was successful at several initiatives she undertook as First Lady. She gives details of life in the White House and Secret Service that other First Ladies have not given, and the book held my interest from start to finish over the three weeks I read it (as time allowed, not because it was boring).
The book is easy to read. The first part is entitled Becoming Me, and tells of Michelle’s childhood, schooling, and singleness. The second part is called Becoming Us, and focuses on meeting President Obama (as an intern then), and her struggles with his political ambition. The Obama’s marriage is admirable throughout, counseling and all. The third part is Becoming More, the public focus, and the stress that comes with it. There’s responsibility in being the focus, but there’s greater platform and possibilities, which in my opinion, outweighs the negative. Forget the WH- just getting Random House to publish “Becoming” is due to being in the WH. Barack Obama’s book “Dreams of My Father” didn’t make it until he became President. As a writer myself who do not have a team of researchers or speech writers, this intrigues me. (I wrote my 125,000 word manuscript myself and it was shortlisted in a contest.) The benefits of being First Lady do outweigh the drawbacks, especially for someone who was already civic-minded.
Some aspects caused me to shake my head. Secret Service is there for a reason…don’t break the rules and flaunt it in a book afterwards. Encouraging a teenage daughter to join in disregarding the SS only sends the wrong message. Raising daughters in the White House is a privilege, not a scarring process (and mother Robinson was there full time! Such a lovely, rock-solid woman.). Contrast the safety of the daughters under SS protection to the risks that Michelle faced growing up in Chicago’s South Side – which is preferable? Then why run for a second term if the life was too restrictive for her and them?
I like President Trump but I feel Michelle’s pain when she speaks of the humiliation cast on her husband and family in birther debates. I too would feel incensed if groups were questioning the truth of my husband. She says she could never forgive Trump, and I pray that God will comfort her and turn the pain into forgiveness one day so she can be free, and not in bondage by her experience.
“Becoming” is inspirational in building dreams for those who face barriers. The Obamas overcame and so too can you. And this is the primary message I took away. Four stars for Becoming.
Susan Harris’s book TOUCHED BY ETERNITY: A TRUE STORY OF HEAVEN, HEALING, AND ANGELS will be released in May 2019.