By: Michelle Obama
Michelle Obama’s debut memoir, Becoming, provides an intimate look into her life growing up on the South Side of Chicago, her time in Ivy League schools, her career moves, and balancing life with her husband Barack and their daughters. Mrs. Obama also gives the reader a glimpse into what it was like to be a part of history after Barack was elected as the President of the United States, and everything that followed. Throughout the book, Mrs. Obama maintains her voice while also showing the reader that despite the level of “fame” she has reached, she is a woman that has stayed true to her core values of family, service, integrity, and fighting for what she believes in.
One of the biggest aspects of our discussion focused on a line from Michelle Obama’s speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention: “When they go low, we go high.” Our team talked about whether or not this was demonstrated throughout the book, or if this was just great oratory. The consensus of the group was that Mrs. Obama does seem to convey this sentiment in her words and actions. We also talked about where this is reflected for us as a team, and what the boundaries might be. Some interesting notes that arose from this were that every person has the choice of not spending time on the low and instead focusing on themselves, as well as if there is the possibility of any criticism coming from “going high” and avoiding the mess.
We also discussed the notion of a “part-time parent,” and the effect that it might have on children. There is no indication that Mrs. Obama believes her daughters feel neglected due to their father’s career, but the reader does get the sense that it’s something she sometimes wonders about. Our team has some experience with this as well, and it is not an easy topic to talk about. One of the things we all enjoyed was Mrs. Obama’s openness and her honesty in dealing with topics that people tend to avoid, such as race, privilege, part-time parenting, and so many more.
Obama, Michelle. Becoming. Crown Publishing Group, 2018.
Obama, Michelle. Speech, 2016 Democratic National Convention, Wells Fargo Convention Center, Philadelphia, February 26, 2019.