This was a book that I’d heard was good, but I wasn’t too sure what to expect from it. I typically enjoy stories about ordinary people, rather than the lives of world leaders, so a part of me was worried that this wouldn’t be quite for me. However, I had no need to worry, because I loved this book – partially because, to my surprise, Michelle Obama’s life started out in much the same way as many ordinary people’s.
Descended from somebody who was enslaved, Michelle Obama grew up with her working place family in a place called Euclid Avenue in Chicago. I didn’t expect her to have had such humble beginnings, and it certainly helped endear me to her. As she talks about the days of her youth, you get a sense of her values and where they came from, and why she’s passionate about looking out for ordinary people.
It’s really emotional at times, especially when she writes about the death of her father. Even if she weren’t somebody who would eventually become First Lady of America, I’d have enjoyed it as a story of just one woman’s relationship with her family. Though of course, what comes later helps make it even more interesting.
I am very guilty of not thinking of world leaders as regular people sometimes. I know that they hold human flaws, but I don’t think of them leading everyday lives, and the way in which being a major public figure plays into that. The stories about how she and her family had to adapt to the changes that came when Barrack became president are really insightful, and cover many things I’d never considered before – especially the dilemmas she faced as a mother.
Meanwhile, the story of her relationship with Barrack is also fascinating to me. Again, I would never really think about the romantic lives of world leaders, so it was really interesting to me to read about Michelle Obama meeting her future husband, not initially being hugely impressed by him, and then slowly building a relationship, a life, and a family with him.
I also felt for her as she described the way in which the opposition party, and various publications, would do everything they could to try and make her and her family look bad at every turn. It highlights some of the real ugliness of the political world, and how ridiculous (and insincere) some people are when criticising those they disagree with politically.
As much as Michelle Obama will forever be associated with politics, this isn’t book about politics, or even a book with a political message (other than certain basic levels of respect which are sometimes considered political). Rather, it’s a human story about the emotions involved with being a regular person cast onto to world stage, and that was really interesting to me.