Book Review

Three Things I learnt from the Book “Becoming” by Michelle Obama

Determination: As early as age five, Michelle showed determination. In her kindergarten class, there was a colour quiz exercise that required each student to pronounce the names of colours on the manilla cards their teacher had with her. At Michelle’s turn, she struggled to pronounce the word “white.” But the two most brilliant students in her class could pronounce the names of all colours shown correctly, and they were decorated by her class teacher. Michelle felt embarrassed by her failure and she ensured she learnt the colours when she returned home from school. She got to school the following day, and she asked her teacher for a do-over. At her do-over, she aced her pronunciation in the first attempt. This was possible because Michelle showed her determination and commitment to excel by studying hard.

Another instance she showed determination was in her high school. In her final semester at high school, She informed her counsellor she was planning to apply to ‘Princeton College’ which was her first choice University, and the counsellor responded, “I’m not sure, . . . that you’re Princeton material” (60). Even though the counselor was negative in her remark, these words did not stop Michelle. she believed in herself and she pursued her dreams. Her self-motivation reflects the words of Robert Schuller, an American author, and pastor, “The me I see, is the me I will be.” Michelle went ahead to seek a recommendation letter from her principal, she wrote an essay and was accepted. Michelle’s display of determination teaches me that it takes determination to achieve success.

The Power of My Voice: Michelle said, “if there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s the power of using your voice” (224,). I learnt from this. Michelle mentioned that she has not used her voice to speak negative things or untrue things but speaking the truth, shedding light on the stories of people who are often marginalised and overlooked (224). Even as a young girl, she understood the power of her voice and this was the reason why she could request a do-over from her class teacher. Michelle’s memoir reassures me that my voice is powerful and that with my voice I can achieve all I desire and can make a difference in my society.

Look Beyond the Present: Michelle was smart with her choice of a life partner. She never looked down on Barack. She bothered less about Barack’s financial status while dating him. But what she conveniently remembers was that he had a character that outshone his checking account. Michelle said, “So many of my friends judged potential mates from the outside in, focusing first on their looks and financial prospects. If it turned out the person, they’d chosen wasn’t a good communicator or was uncomfortable with being vulnerable, they seemed to think time or marriage vows would fix the problem” (96). She also noted that she knew from the beginning that the man she was falling for was matured enough to handle a true partnership that was worth more than financial uncertainty (107). Michelle looked beyond the present, she braced up to marry a future that she was uncertain of and the result today, made her a former first lady of the United States of America. Obviously, the present did not determine their future.

In close, Michelle’s words ask me if I am determined, if I believe in the power of my voice, and if I can decide to look beyond what I currently see, to seek the future unknown. What do you think these lessons ask you? Are the questions the same as mine?

Reference

Michelle Obama. Becoming. New York: Crown Publication, 2018. PDF Version,

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