by Michelle Obama
Reviewed by Elizabeth H. Cottrell
5 stars out of 5
This absorbing and compelling memoir not only told a remarkable story, but it also offered practical but inspiring examples of perseverance, resilience, courage, and vulnerability, all juxtaposed with human frailty and the challenges of dealing with those whose lives are so different from your own. It begins with an inside glimpse of Michelle Robinson’s childhood in a gritty part of southside Chicago. She was raised by parents who loved her—and her brother Craig—fiercely and who worked tirelessly and sacrificed their own dreams so their children could attend Ivy League schools.
Michelle was smart, driven, and on an upward trajectory as an attorney when she met and fell in love with Barack Obama—an equally brilliant attorney with a clear-eyed vision for a better world. It was a vision she embraced and supported, though she was sometimes skeptical of their ability to make the vision become a reality.
Her story of their life during her husband’s meteoric political rise—and their life as a family in the White House bubble—was absolutely fascinating. Some will view the litany of their accomplishments as self-serving, but clearly, they worked hard to fulfill their respective roles with grace and dignity, all the while ferociously protecting the two daughters, Sasha and Malia, who were growing up in the strangest of circumstances.
This book is a testament to the value of combining dreams with hard work, success with disappointment or failure, and fighting hatred with love. Here are some of my favorite quotes:
“Let’s invite one another in. Maybe then we can begin to fear less, to make fewer wrong assumptions, to let go of biases and stereotypes that unnecessarily divide us. Maybe we can embrace the ways we are the same…There’s power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice. And there’s grace in being able to know and hear others. This, for me, is how we become.”
Her story is such a moving reminder that we are all—each and every one of us—a work-in-progress. We are all becoming what we will be, and I look forward to seeing how the next chapter of Michelle Obama’s life unfolds. I copied these words from her into my reading journal:
“Becoming requires equal parts patience and rigor. Becoming is never giving up on the idea that there’s more growing to be done.” ~Michelle Obama
That, my friends, is a beautiful mantra that will serve us well in pursuit of the #HeartspokenLife.
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