'Becoming' by Michelle Obama

Now I've got to be honest, autobiography isn't my favourite genre. Even the most interesting sounding people have often led quite boring lives whilst those who have done exceptional things, can lose that sense in the re-telling, often bogged down by the wrong details, poor writing or both.
          Becoming, by Michelle Obama, hasn't really led me to reconsider my views. It's not badly written, it's just that three quarters of the rather lengthy book concentrates on her early life and her rise from a black working class family, to realise her ambition to be a successful corporate lawyer, followed by the dawning that this wasn't actually the path to personal fulfillment and a move into more worthy areas of professional engagement. Whilst this is mildly interesting, it's by no means unique, and could have been adequately explored in a smaller proportion of the book. True, there are some resonating themes such as combining motherhood with a career, and then deciding how far it is possible and desirable to adapt both, to accommodate the ambition of a driven spouse, but it only carries this reader's interest so far.
          The final quarter of the book: what it felt like to live in the Whitehouse, how the family had to adapt to the suffocating scrutiny and security, what it is like to try and bring two children up in that environment, and what Michelle really thought of the queen, better met my readerly curiosity but there wasn't enough of it. I'd also have liked to read more on adapting to life back outside the Whitehouse and how you move on from such a lived experience.
          Michelle's voice is clear throughout and she sounds like the kind of woman I'd like to have a chat with over a cup of tea, but to be honest, I was fairly ambivalent about the book.

Verdict: Sitting on the fence!



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