From Euclid Avenue to the White House: a tale of unicorns, perfect imperfection, and two Ivy League degrees
If you are at all interested in the literary world, it is nearly impossible to get around Michelle Obama’s (who, by the way, has two ivy league degrees) memoir Becoming. If, like me, you studied political science with a focus on North America, it almost feels like a duty to read this book. And so I did!
Everybody loves this book – it has one of the highest ratings on Goodreads I’ve ever seen, seemingly everyone gives it 4 or 5 stars, and people are asking when Michelle Obama will become president. The hipster in me yawns immediately whenever I hear about a hype, and maybe that’s why I feel so underwhelmed with Becoming. Or maybe it’s because Michelle Obama’s memoir is so sugar-coated I could only digest in in small doses. Did I mention she has two Ivy League degrees?
Let’s start what this book is about: Michelle Obama’s life from birth to the White House, a fairy tale. Little Michelle is a bright, precocious, bookish girl who plays the piano. Teenage Michelle is bright, angsty, and travels a million miles every day to go to the best school in Chicago. College Michelle is – well, I don’t really remember, but I’m sure she was splendid and smart. Lawyer firm Michelle meets Barack Obama and from this moment on, we hear less about Michelle and more about Barack, who is the best thing since sliced bread but reads 50 philosophical books a day, which sliced bread can’t do. Michelle repeatedly calls him a “unicorn”.
The parts of the book that deal with the Obama’s time in the White House at first seem more promising but in the end, we don’t get to know much that wasn’t already public knowledge. And here lies my biggest problem with the book: there is nothing even slightly edgy, surprising, or less-than-perfect-with-the-right-amount-of-imperfection. Yes, Michelle doesn’t like that Barrack is so often away from home – but not so much that it would actually lead to a fight. Feel imprisoned by the harsh security standards in the White House? Just take one of your daughters and – against protocal – take her outside to see the fireworks blown up for gay rights and everybody has a laugh afterwards.
Now, don’t misunderstand me: I am sure that the Obamas are fabulous people, and whoever becomes the first family of the United States must have had a lot of luck, determination, or brains (or a combination of those, plus the money). This memoir, however, did not impress me very much.
Title: Becoming Author: Michelle Obama First Published: 2018