It is a well-documented fact that I am a library fiend, borrowing anything and everything I can get my digital hands on, but this one? This one I own. And will own forever and will display in a place of pride and fight the urge to build an alter to and oh god please come back.
This book is pretty much everything you need it to be (except the part at the end where she flatly says she will never run for office which I get but also brb gonna go sob loudly in the next room). This book is about who Michelle Robinson Obama is and how she got there – about the people, places, and circumstances that shaped her into the icon of strength, grace, and dignity we worship today. She is an incredible woman whose determination and loving community helped her turn ordinary into extraordinary. We should all be more like her.
Obama has broken the book into three primary segments: Becoming Me (her family, her childhood in South Side Chicago, her Ivy league education, her burgeoning legal career), Becoming Us (meeting and falling in love with Barack and starting their family), and Becoming More (you mostly know this part). She paints incredible portraits of the people she has known throughout her life and does it all with an optimism I can only envy.
Speaking of portraits, she mentions theirs hanging now hanging in the National Portrait Gallery (god they are so stunning I mean like woah) and I’d like to briefly touch on something she kind of doesn’t. Michelle’s portrait was much maligned in the general public for not resembling her and that in no way gives it a fair shake. Portraiture isn’t meant to be a photographic representation, it’s meant to capture the essence of a person and look at this and tell me the grace and quiet strength aren’t Michelle Obama:
Obama says in this book that she is so proud to have her portrait hang in part because it means little black girls see another representation of themselves in the halls of power and that is why Amy Sherald paints black women. Like, exactly why. Amy Sherald creates powerful portraits of black women and girls to show them that they are worth making portraits of. Obama picked the painter as much as the portrait and it is incredible. Art soapbox over.
Look, just read this book. It will teach you a lot about patience, about stepping outside yourself to understand the world and see the bigger picture. It will teach you about the value of considered thought and hard work and being prepared to take advantage of good fortune. It’s about love and family and a First Lady we never really deserved.
Oh god I miss them so much.