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BECOMING adapted for younger readers by Michelle Obama: a book review

Delving into the unknown life of Michelle Obama

Motivational books have a certain reputation. It comes from people who try to uplift your spirits by carefully presenting certain words. Autobiographies and biographies are dear to me, as they seem more real as opposed to the fake and fictional narrative of the motivational books. Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama rose to the top, where humans can only aspire to be. We have seen her being in the limelight 24x7 but this book takes us on a journey to her humble background where the seeds of greatness were sown. From her schooling to her political presence, everything is covered.

I vividly remember the inaugural event of Barack Obama. It went down in history as the world celebrated the first African American president of the USA. His 8 years tenure wasn’t without controversies but the first lady stood out in her own way. Her dignified manner, views, and contribution to help the minorities and to spearhead diplomatic relations with other world leaders and monarchs made her stand out as the most dynamic FLOTUS.

Her dressing sense and fashion became the talk of the town.

The former first lady is how we know Michelle. But this book talks about Michelle Obama's life that remained unknown to us. She went from being a kid from Chicago to graduating from Princeton and Harvard. The most important part that I extract from her memoir is the efforts that she put into her education. Whatever she faced being a black kid in a white society, she knew that education was the only way to rise up and she wasn’t wrong. She later became an American attorney. She is known to say that education gave her opportunities beyond what she had ever imagined.

Her tenure as the First lady was filled with ups and downs. Her race came before her position. The racist remarks were never-ending. The way she handled it in her signature calm and composed manner, goes on to prove her developed sense of society. She used her education to rise up on the social ladder and the confidence which her success brought along, was often misinterpreted as arrogance. It brought to the fore, the inequalities of the US despite being called the No.1 nation in the whole wide world. The way people celebrated their inaugural ceremony goes on to show what a huge impact they created on society.

When we talk about motivational books for children, we often find ourselves in a fix. Children usually do not hold the capacity to know about racism, classism, political ideas but that doesn’t mean that they have to stay aloof from that information. Here, parents serve as the only source of reliable information. This book is a toned-down version of the 2018 bestseller, Becoming. Toned down not in the quality but it’s laden with pictures to keep the imagination intact, focusing in length about her formative years and the bonds she shared with her brother and family.

As a child, Michelle saw the demographic hierarchy of the society, be it income-based or color-based. The poorer parts of the city had fewer trees while the white suburbs had manicured flower beds. The dignified nature of this lady who always stands in front of the camera smiling and addressing issues about the world or her country has roots in her childhood that was filled with curious questions and her parents providing interesting answers.

In a way how her mother or father interacted with her is a lesson for the adult readers too.

While the book is designed to be for children, the ideas it represents are not childish.

Biographies are like classical movies. You try to relate to the characters. And if it’s a foreign movie, the relatability quotient reduces. That is what’s happening here. Michelle Obama is a world icon but relating with her story seems difficult to me, especially as a privileged Indian. I have only heard and read about racism and classism in the US. Being an African American in the US and rising to the top with her husband seems like no easy feat. My knowledge about the life that she has lived, is sugar-coated, drenched in drama, and supplied by news flashes.

Michelle is an inspiration, for children and for adults. The poise with which she carries herself and her personality is inspiring. She shows that external factors, however huge, are nothing in front of an indomitable will.

About the book-

What's important is our story, our whole story, including those moments when we feel a little vulnerable. Michelle Robinson started life sharing a bedroom with her older brother Craig, in their family's upstairs apartment in her great-aunt's house. Her parents, Fraser and Marian, poured their love and energy into their children. She would go on to become Michelle Obama, the inspirational First Lady of the United States of America. Now adapted for younger readers, with new photographs and a new introduction from Michelle Obama herself, this memoir tells a very personal, and completely inspiring, story of how, through hard work and determination, the girl from the South Side of Chicago built an extraordinary life.

A tale of ups and downs, triumphs and failures, this is an incredibly honest account. It will take you from the early years - first kiss, first school, first love - to the wonders of the White House, and the moment Mrs Obama shook hands with the Queen of England. A book to read, share, and talk about with the adults in your life, this is a call to action and compassion, and hope for change in uncertain times, and in a scary world. You'll be inspired to help others, and understand that no one is perfect. Just like Michelle Obama, you too are finding out exactly who you want to be (and, actually, so are the adults in your life).

Above all, it is a book to make you think: who are you, and what do you want to become.

Becoming adapted for younger readers by Michelle Obama is originally published by Puffin books, an imprint of Penguin Random House UK and to get your copy, buy here.

About the author-

Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama is the wife of the forty-fourth President of the United States, Barack Obama, and is the first African-American First Lady of the United States. She was born and grew up on the South Side of Chicago and graduated from Princeton University and Harvard Law School. After completing her formal education, she returned to Chicago and accepted a position with the law firm Sidley Austin, and subsequently worked as part of the staff of Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley, and for the University of Chicago Medical Center. Michelle Obama is the sister of Craig Robinson, men's basketball coach at Oregon State University. She met Barack Obama when he joined Sidley Austin. After his election to the U.S. Senate, the Obama family continued to live on Chicago's South Side, choosing to remain there rather than moving to Washington, D.C.

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