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Title: Becoming

Writer: Michelle Obama

Publisher: Crown (First Edition, 2018)

Pages: 426p

Bought at: Bootopia Periplus (IDR 430k disc 20%)

Before even being published, this book has stirred the expectations of so many people, especially those who are being disappointed of the current political situation in the United States. Michelle Obama was a popular First Lady, one of the most beloved, and that’s why her memoir was something that people got really excited about.

In my opinion, Michelle has fulfilled that expectation. This memoir is very well written, covering the unexpected turns of her life, from a daughter of a working class family in South Side Chicago, to the prestigious students in Princeton and Harvard Law School, and of course- to the one of the most elite communities in the world- the White House.

I feel that Michelle spent quite some time in this book to give a clear picture of who she is as a child, as a daughter, as a young adult. And true, that’s why the first part of the book felt pretty slow- too many details on her childhood life, family and friends, while I’m sure most of us just want to jump directly to her life with Barack Obama.

And I think that is one of the biggest challenges for Michelle: how to make this book about Michelle Obama, and not Barack Obama, while at the same time still includes him in this book because the reality is he becomes a big part of her life and who she is now. That’s why I think Michelle spent a lot of time to write about her childhood and growing up days, to try giving us a clearer picture of who she was and who she has become.

But if we are patient enough, we will get to the important day of her meeting with Barack Obama. And things started to get more interesting from there. How Michelle got attracted to Barack, how their relationship has begun, how their lives started to intertwined, and how Michelle tried to find her own meaning, her own passion and goals, despite Barack’s ever growing goals and political ambitions. It’s funny to think that Michelle did not like politics at all- and how she tried to balance her life, career, family and parenting world- in between the chaotic world of politics. She is a very relatable human being, in spite of her very extraordinary life.

In a way, some parts of this book is of course still about Barack Obama, at least seen from Michelle’s point of view. And since I had more connection with some parts of Barack’s life (Indonesia and Jakarta parts, her mother’s research, etc)- I feel pulled into his life and expected more glimpse into it. And I know it’s not fair because this is Michelle’s story and not Barack- and that is exactly how challenging this book is for Michelle to write.

I also wished to see more of her story inside the White House. Perhaps there are still some confidential issues, but this part of the book seems like it has been cleanly cut just to show us enough glimpse from the inside but nothing really new that we didn’t know already. I think this is the weakness point of the book.

However, “Becoming” is still a wonderful book from one of the most inspiring women of our time. Of course Michelle mentioned many times about her perspective as an African American woman, a minority who tried to give hope and inspiration to others in similar position with her in the past. That nothing is impossible, work for it, for a better life and a better world. But fortunately she told the story not from the naive standpoint. It’s also realistic and can be implemented to whoever you are in whichever part of the world.

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