by Michelle Obama, Penguin Random House
The arrival of Michelle Obama’s memoir was hotly anticipated in The Australian Women’s Weekly office – and with good reason. It’s a superb read. Eloquently written, it tells the remarkable story of a young girl growing up in a cramped apartment on the South Side of Chicago in a loving, working class family, who went on to become one of the most famous women in the world when her husband was elected America’s first black president. But with her intelligence and feisty determination, Michelle was destined for success on her own merits. Before meeting Barack Obama, she had already established herself as an up and coming corporate lawyer, but while still in her 20s was questioning whether that was the right career for her. She explains how she wanted to work with people, more than data, to make a difference in the world. In Barack she found a kindred spirit and the support to change direction. Early in their marriage, Barack’s own drive and relentless work ethic saw him enter politics and the couple’s life took on a whole new focus, ultimately leading to their arrival in Washington. In telling her story, she reveals the Michelle Obama behind the politics. We learn about the childhood that shaped her, the friendships that inspired her, the values that ground her; she reveals her struggle to have the children she craved, and then how, like all working mums, she had to find a way to juggle career and family. She writes about her love for Barack and also how his work affected their marriage and her own aspirations. And then we learn about living in “the bubble of the presidency”, when even going on a date with her husband was a strategic mission involving intense security and inconvenience to others. Fascinating, inspiring, it left me in awe of this extraordinary woman. Highly recommended reading.