Michelle Obama’s memoir, Becoming, was one of our office holiday party’s most quickly stolen White Elephant gifts and the first book on Barack Obama’s best of 2018 list.
Everyone—including a grandpa who cried upon receiving the book for Christmas because it meant he could remove himself from being #353 on the library waitlist—wants to read it. (The original tweet about this grandpa has since been made private.)
I was lucky enough to find the book at my local Barnes and Noble and spend my final week of 2018 reading it cover to cover, in between my GMAT study sessions.
For millennials (like me), Becoming comes at an opportune moment because we are at ages and stages in life where Michelle Obama’s life lessons and advice are applicable, and we still feel young enough to course correct before we imagine we’ve gone too far to be saved.
Certainly, Michelle Obama inherently tends to draw a liberal-leaning audience. But I believe that the wisdom she shares about being human, being a woman, being a partner, and being a mother are relevant across demographic differences.
When the book initially released, many immediately wrote articles about both Obama daughters being conceived through IVF. Planned Parenthood posted the news on their social media feeds and women across the world thanked Michelle Obama for opening the door to more public conversations about women’s health, specifically the challenges of becoming pregnant and miscarriages.
What writers tended to feature less in their reviews were the truths that Michelle Obama revealed about how much she struggled to balance her marriage, career, and children; and how much she had to work on her relationship and marriage with Barack.
Instagram—or what one incredibly clever Twitter user once nicknamed “Look, I Went to a Wedding/Got Engaged”—severely clouds people’s perceptions of relationships. Everyone watched Nick Jonas and Priyanka Chopra get married. Memes are made about the proliferation of engagement posts.
But these photos—even Michelle Obama’s own Instagram photos of her and Barack—do not reveal the conflicts they’ve gone through, the difficulties they’ve weathered together, nor the ways they’ve learned to grow together (marriage counseling).
What Michelle Obama accomplishes through Becoming, specifically for millennial readers, is shedding light on just how difficult life can be but also inspiring us to do more.
Life is rewarding and beautiful. But even for a power couple like the Obamas, it is also incredibly challenging. There are hard lessons that can be shared, but even the best and worst of these remain best learned through experience.
But, in spite of everything, life can still be wonderful.
TL;DR 10/10 recommend Becoming to anyone who has the opportunity to read it, particularly folks my age. Michelle Obama gives all the advice that you likely refused to hear from your own mom, because she’s your mom, but you actually do need in your life to be a good person.