Sunday, December 16The Voice of London

“An ordinary person who found herself on an extraordinary journey” – Becoming by Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama’s autobiography came out this month and it’s already a global success.

The book follows Michelle’s story from her childhood to the end of her husband’s presidency of the United States. What makes it peculiar, though, is the voice who takes the reader to the uncommon story of Mrs Obama: not just that of a First Lady, but that of a woman, too.

In her own words, as written at the very end of the story, she feels like an “ordinary person who found herself on an extraordinary journey”. By means of this 400-pages, we can for a moment catch a glimpse of this journey.

The book is divided into three parts: Becoming Me is about her childhood and the way she started shaping herself as a young woman; Becoming Us is dedicated to her love story with Barack Obama; Becoming More is an insight of the presidency.

The start is set in the former First Lady’s hometown: Chicago. She talks openly and kindly about her family: a strong feeling of affection clearly stems from every word written about her mother, father and elder brother.

Her experience with education, from preschool to college to law school is filled with details about the way she felt throughout the process, together with a sharp, in-retrospect analysis.

What emerges from this first section, is a change of perspective: at a starting point, through Michelle Robinson’s eyes, the world is entirely made out of her neighbourhood and lives within its borders. From her family house to her school, “a one minute run” away from home, from the tree outside her window to the playground. Growing up, she starts seeing a larger Chicago, which seems to inevitably change her views about the world as a whole.

Obama also opens up about her father’s disease and his stubbornness and bravery in facing it – all in all, describing a simple, not always and necessarily easy, but sincere and nicely put-together family environment.

Her love story with Obama starts in a law firm, where she performs the sceptical advisor of the president to be – then a summer intern at Sidley & Austin. Their story transpires as an unconditioned love, which proved, just after months from the start, to be able to convert in a long-distance relationship.

The shift from the description of her life as a common woman to the wife of a politician is quite abrupt, but the personal and almost intimate tone of the narration never leaves the reader.

Becoming More is a description of Michelle Obama’s experience inside the White House, from her own eyes and in her own thoughts.

From fashion to dinner parties, from the day her husband first mentioned Osama Bin Laden to her nightmares, there is hardly a topic left untouched.

In the Epilogue, the voice of the woman is stronger than ever. It is the voice of a mother and the wife of a former President of the United States, who, once again, is faced with big changes in her life.

“I am now at a new beginning,” Michelle writes, “in a new phase of life”. After her husband left the office, many responsibilities left their life too. Her two almost-grown kids no longer need her as they used to. “At fifty-four” she continues, “I am still in progress, and I hope that I always will be”. Answering to those who ask if she has any intention to run for President, she says no, “this arena is just not for me”, leaving the reader simply with the picture of a woman who’s doing the best she can, fiercely.

 

Words: Matilde Moro | Subbing: Jake Woods

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