Michelle Robinson Obama takes us through her life story in roughly two halves – pre Barack and post Barack. We read about her early years in a hardworking and loving family, her tenacity in the classroom, her college years, and early career in a respected law firm.
At the point in the book where Michelle meets her future husband, and future US President, Barack Obama, the story obviously does take a turn – just as her life did. She begins to reveal Barack’s character too, but maintains a steady focus on her own life and her experiences, as they became an item and then eventually married. This is an important facet of the book, I think: to know that many readers are seeking additional insight into the very popular former president, while at the same time remaining true to what is, after all, your own individual story.
For me, Michelle Obama trod the very fine line of sharing personal details of her relationship with Barack Obama and her time in the White House, without revealing too much.
She does write about quarrels. She does write about the difficulty of raising two daughters with an absent husband. She describes the scrutiny of their lives, the long hours and relentless commitments, the lack of privacy, and continuous security detail. She isn’t resentful or ungrateful – she’s far too wise and graceful for that – but as far as possible, she tries to demonstrate that life was not First Lady isn’t easy.
And yet despite that sharing, I did feel that the latter third of the book seemed somewhat sanitised. As a reader, I felt there was still so much to know. This may have been for political reasons; after all, the family is still under scrutiny and regularly discussed by political opponents. This may simply have been for reasons of word count! There’s so many detailed stories she could share.
Michelle Obama is a talented writer, and I enjoyed the book from the very first sentence. She has worked hard to carefully describe the people in her life, and the settings around her. She comments on themes including racism, classism, women in education and work, and more. This all helps to build the picture of the very warm, energetic, fierce and intelligent person she has Become.
This year's book list has been curated by Angela Berney who is the coordinator of the Woodcroft library at the City of Onkaparinga.