Becoming

Becoming

Book - 2018
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Michelle Obama describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private in a deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations.
Publisher: New York : Crown, [2018]
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9781524763138
1524763136
9781524763152
Characteristics: xiii, 426 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color) ; 25 cm

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From Library Staff

November 2018 selection

November 2018 selection

List - First Reads Recs
ChiPubLib_Adults Sep 12, 2019

"A wonderful insight into her south side of Chicago life, struggles as an African-American woman in college, and her accomplishments as First Lady." - Cynthia

Outstanding Literary Work, Biography / Auto Biography

Nominee, Outstanding Literary Work – Biography/Autobiography


From the critics


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a
AMWayment
Jun 22, 2020

Michelle recounts her time growing up on the South Side of Chicago as she shares the joys of her childhood as well as some of the tough things. She was a feisty child, driven to do well in school.
She speaks lovingly of her roots in this working class family - her parents and her brother and grandparents and how their values shaped the adult she would become. We witness the grief she experienced over the loss of her father and her continuing admiration and love for her mother who was tenacious in seeking a good education for her children. In this memoir, she is so open and honest and it feels so intimate. Michelle shares her love for her husband and daughters. She speaks about the discrimination against the men in her family, about being black at Princeton, about the attacks on her husband’s citizenship, a conspiracy theory primary pushed by the person who unfortunately followed Obama after his second term. We discover who she is in the times she is undergoing a self discovery, as she questions her aspirations, as she juggles work and motherhood as Barack’s involvement and aspirations in politics grow. It felt so intimate as she shares some personal struggles that they faced.

The things she chose to focus on as First Lady - children and their health, assisting military families, developing a program for mentoring young women reflect the things that are important to her and the kind of person she is. With an intellect such as hers, she easily could have taken on larger policy issues, but instead focused on children and families bringing people into the White House who would not have had the opportunity to be there if not for her. This book is over 400 pages and it never felt long. The writing is good and I just kept turning page after page always interested in what she would say next. A remarkable story of a remarkable woman.

j
jaimedboyd
Jun 12, 2020

awesome book! she is such an amazing woman!

c
catw2ooo
May 25, 2020

Yep, totally superficial. Feel sorry for me is the message I got through and through. Awww she's had such a hard life. Poor baby.

s
stevania_k
May 23, 2020

Such a person like president of the USA and the first lady will always be an interesting topic for a book. The way the book is written is smart, felt sincere and enjoyable to read, like the historical genre adopting popular genre - dense yet light.

s
sgcf
May 13, 2020

A very heartfelt and intelligent memoir by the first ever African-American First Lady. She lets us see how both her inborn nature (organized, driven to succeed) and her parents’ nurturing (dignity, self-reliance, fairness) led to her successes as a lawyer, a mother, a wife and as the First Lady. I was surprised to learn a lot about Barack Obama as well in part 2 – his intense focus, his haphazard lack of tidiness, his compassion, his doting father role to his young daughters. Michelle details in part 3 the many causes she took on during her eight years as FLOTUS. (My only negative comment is that the book would have been just as effective had it been 50 pages of anecdotes lighter.
Halleluiah, these are good people! Good role models for this crazy world.

m
mogie
May 11, 2020

I unexpectedly enjoyed this book. I thought it would read more like a textbook but it truly was a narrative. I found Obama's writing easy to digest and genuine. I also have to applaud her for the epilogue. I don't follow politics closely, especially American politics. This wasn't so much about that though but life. Michelle has a strong voice as a woman, a woman of colour, a mother among other lenses. I laughed, I cried and I felt hopeful. I would recommend this book to anyone. Especially white men. The only reason that I took a half star off is that I won't re-read this book.

f
farmerswife4ca
May 04, 2020

Excellent!

l
LuckyRerollIt
May 03, 2020

I surprisingly enjoyed this book. Becoming takes you through the life of Michelle Obama from humble beginnings, to a career in law, and eventually the First Lady of the President of the United states. There are a lot of powerful insights to be pulled following her lead, with the difficulties in both race and class as she grows and encounters many common issues. She paints a wide picture as the story grows of the size of the community and their significance and a strange comfort of small voices can be heard as well with enough work and effort.

There is something oddly comforting about her relationship with her husband that really draws how human they all are as we can often forget that people are more complicated and relatable than their positions. In masterfully doing this it sets you there with them as they go through the steps of what publicity would often take and warp the reality how we perceived them. You get to understand as it goes on just how this system works, why it doesn't work at times, and how we have made a lot of strides but were still not quite there.

Despite the issue of imagery, Michelle refuses to lower her voice and brings to the table utilizing her newly found fame to attacking issues close to the heart. Her actions are weighed heavy by expectation. She exercises creativity in her given position and its honestly admirable the lengths she goes through to get a job done. This book has its fair share of wit and humor peppered in that make the tempo of the story engaging throughout and is just an all around interesting ride.

m
mebacher
Apr 17, 2020

Exceptional. Highly recommend.

c
creativegirly123
Mar 25, 2020

This book is captivating and inspiring to its core. It gives us a broader vision of Michelle Obama and Barack Obama for the society in general and how passionate they were about the work that they did. She talks about every sphere of her life -the core family values, the society she was raised in, the friendships she had with different people in different phases and how much they taught her.She talks about the insecurities and self doubt she often found herself in when doing great things which she knew would have an impact on her life and everybody else's life. An amazing story to own and tell to encourage young people especially first generation college goers to be confident of themselves and to dream big and work with a bigger purpose in life. Honestly there are no other books i can relate this to as it was so personal. I loved it and recommend it because of how raw it was.

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Quotes

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c
cknightkc
Jun 23, 2019

“Failure is a feeling long before it becomes an actual result.” - p. 43

c
cknightkc
Jun 23, 2019

“Do we settle for the world as it is, or do we work for the world as it should be?” - p. 118

c
cknightkc
Jun 23, 2019

“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.” - p. 419

j
jimg2000
Feb 05, 2019

Many quotes in goodreads already, likely includes many below:

I’ve wanted to ask my detractors which part of that phrase matters to them the most — is it “angry” or “black” or “woman”?
===
Your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.
===
Everything that mattered was within a five-block radius — my grandparents and cousins, the church on the corner where we were not quite regulars at Sunday school, the gas station where my mother sometimes sent me to pick up a pack of Newport’s, and the liquor store, which also sold Wonder bread, penny candy, and gallons of milk.
===
Robbie and Terry were older. They grew up in a different era, with different concerns. They’d seen things our parents hadn’t — things that Craig and I, in our raucous childishness, couldn’t begin to guess.
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He was devoted to his car, a bronze - colored two - door Buick Electra 225, which he referred to with pride as “the Deuce and a Quarter.”

j
jimg2000
Feb 05, 2019

If you’d had a head start at home, you were rewarded for it at school, deemed “bright” or “gifted,” which in turn only compounded your confidence. The advantages aggregated quickly.
===
Kids found one another based not on the color of their skin but on who was outside and ready to play.
===
In 1950, fifteen years before my parents moved to South Shore, the neighborhood had been 96 percent white. By the time I’d leave for college in 1981, it would be about 96 percent black.
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If my mother were somebody different, she might have done the polite thing and said, “Just go and do your best.” But she knew the difference. She knew the difference between whining and actual distress.
===

Their anger over it can manifest itself as unruliness. It’s hardly their fault. They aren’t “bad kids.” They’re just trying to survive bad circumstances

j
jimg2000
Feb 05, 2019

For the next nine years, knowing that I’d earned it, I made myself a fat peanut butter and jelly sandwich for breakfast each morning and consumed not a single egg.
===
My grandfather, born in 1912, was the grandson of slaves, the son of a millworker, and the oldest of what would be ten children in his family. A quick-witted and intelligent kid, he’d been nicknamed “the Professor” and set his sights early on the idea of someday going to college. But not only was he black and from a poor family, he also came of age during the Great Depression.
===
If you wanted to work as an electrician (or as a steelworker, carpenter, or plumber, for that matter) on any of the big job sites in Chicago, you needed a union card. And if you were black, the overwhelming odds were that you weren’t going …
===
Speaking a certain way — the “white” way, as some would have it — was perceived as a betrayal, as being uppity, as somehow denying our culture.

j
jimg2000
Feb 05, 2019

Failure is a feeling long before it becomes an actual result. It’s vulnerability that breeds with self-doubt and then is escalated, often deliberately, by fear.
===
I tore through the lessons, quietly keeping tabs on where I stood among my peers as we charted our progress from long division to pre-algebra, from writing single paragraphs to turning in full research papers. For me, it was like a game. And as with any game, like most any kid, I was happiest when I was ahead.
===
Advice, when she offered it, tended to be of the hard-boiled and pragmatic variety. “You don’t have to like your teacher,” she told me one day after I came home spewing complaints. “But that woman’s got the kind of math in her head that you need in yours. Focus on that and ignore the rest. ”
===
Her goal was to push us out into the world. “I’m not raising babies,” she’d tell us. “I’m raising adults.”
===
We weren’t going to “hang out” or “take a walk.” We were going to make out. And we were both all for it.

j
jimg2000
Feb 05, 2019

I was caught up in the lonely thrill of being a teenager now, convinced that the adults around me had never been there themselves.
===
Was she picturing herself on a tropical island somewhere? With a different kind of man, or in a different kind of house, or with a corner office instead of kids? I don’t know, and I suppose I could ask my mother, who is now in her eighties, but I don’t think it matters.
===

If you’ve never passed a winter in Chicago, let me describe it: You can live for a hundred straight days beneath an iron-gray sky that claps itself like a lid over the city. Frigid, biting winds blow in off the lake. Snow falls in dozens of ways, in heavy overnight dumps and daytime, sideways squalls, in demoralizing sloppy sleet and fairy-tale billows of fluff. There’s ice, usually, lots of it, that shellacs the sidewalks and windshields that then need to be scrapped.
===
I hadn’t needed to show her anything. I was only showing myself.

j
jimg2000
Feb 05, 2019

I hoped that someday my feelings for a man would knock me sideways, that I’d get swept into the upending, tsunami-like rush that seemed to power all the best love stories.
===
I’d been raised on the bedrock of football, basketball, and baseball, but it turned out that East Coast prep schoolers did more. Lacrosse was a thing. Field hockey was a thing. Squash, even, was a thing. For a kid from the South Side, it could be a little dizzying. “You row crew?” What does that even mean?
===
It was hardly a straight meritocracy. There were the athletes, for example. There were the legacy kids, whose fathers and grandfathers had been Tigers or whose families had funded the building of a dorm or a library.
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If in high school I’d felt as if I were representing my neighborhood, now at Princeton I was representing my race.

j
jimg2000
Feb 05, 2019

In my experience, you put a suit on any half-intelligent black man and white people tended to go bonkers.
===
To me, he was sort of like a unicorn — unusual to the point of seeming almost unreal.
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Compared with my own lockstep march toward success, the direct arrow shot of my trajectory from Princeton to Harvard to my desk on the forty-seventh floor, Barack’s path was an improvisational zigzag through disparate worlds.
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He was in law school, he explained, because grassroots organizing had shown him that meaningful societal change required not just the work of the people on the ground but stronger policies and governmental action as well.
===
There was no arguing with the fact that even with his challenged sense of style, Barack was a catch. He was good-looking, poised, and successful. He was athletic, interesting, and kind. What more could anyone want? I sailed into the bar, certain I was doing everyone a favor — him and all the ladies

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sfrancis2006
Nov 26, 2019

sfrancis2006 thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

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manish_pmp
Jul 16, 2019

manish_pmp thinks this title is suitable for 17 years and over

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