When I first started reading Michelle Obama’s autobiography – Becoming, I was reminded of all the new women I had met when I first moved to Hawaii. Over coffee or lunch, we told our life stories, wondering what we had in common, and if we could make a connection. Obama writes as though she were across the table, telling you about herself – a comfortable and sometimes revealing banter, with some of those same yearnings and worries many women have experienced. Not so important are her parents’ push for her to succeed or her hard work ethic; more so are her inner fires so familiar to many of us – am I good enough? what will they think of me? can I really do this? In case you miss any of these, the editor has neatly used bold print to clarify their importance.
The pictures in the center of the book actually drew my attention first – right out of a family album – just as the book is meant to be. Curiously, the book doesn’t really take off until she meets Barack and her life is irrevocably changed. The familiar headlines of her clothes, her attitude, her politic faux pas, are repeated, but this time Michelle tells her side, mostly confirming what intelligent people, mostly women, already knew. Of course, she wasn’t malicious or calculating; she was just trying to navigate the job.
After eight years living in the bubble, she is decidedly relieved to pass the torch. As with most jobs, whether in government, business, or academia, new administrators make changes, sometimes destroying initiatives from their predecessors. But Michele’s famous healthy garden on the White House grounds still stands, and the new First Lady has been harvesting the vegetables with a new crop of children.
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