‘ I can’t re­mem­ber en­joy­ing a po­lit­i­cal mem­oir as much as I have Michelle Obama’s’

Yorkshire Post - Business - - FRONT PAGE - Griselda K To­gobo

Michelle Obama’s best­selling mem­oir Be­com­ing has lit­er­ally taken the world by storm, break­ing sales records to be­come this year’s best-sell­ing book. I was aware of the book and its pend­ing re­lease, but I must ad­mit I was not par­tic­u­larly com­pelled to

Dreams buy it be­cause I had read

From My Fa­ther

by Bar­rack Obama years ago and hav­ing closely fol­lowed their po­lit­i­cal lives, I ar­ro­gantly felt I knew the Oba­mas and their story well.

I could not be more wrong. I woke up one morn­ing to see the book trend­ing on twit­ter and on my In­sta­gram pro­file, fol­low­ing Michelle Obama’s book tour in Lon­don.

The re­views posted on so­cial me­dia were so com­pelling that I de­cided to buy a copy and to see what the hype was all about.

The book has been a rev­e­la­tion. It shares can­did be­hind-thescenes sto­ries of the Obama’s life be­fore be­com­ing pub­lic fig­ures. It takes you through their pre­po­lit­i­cal ca­reers, life in front­line pol­i­tics and fi­nally leav­ing the White House at the end of an eight-year ten­ure in of­fice.

The mem­oir has opened my eyes to the darker side of pol­i­tics. Michelle Obama writes from an out­sider’s per­spec­tive.

I must ad­mit that I felt sorry for her as she seemed to ab­hor pol­i­tics but was thrust into it and the pub­lic eye.

That must have been dif­fi­cult to come to terms with for a woman who sim­ply wanted a pri­vate life, hav­ing to give up a ca­reer, way of life, home, choices and even free­dom and pri­vacy to fol­low an­other per­son’s dreams.

The mem­oir val­i­dated my own jour­ney as a work­ing mum and all the chal­lenges and scru­tiny you face when you dare to be bold and to use your voice to cham­pion is­sues that mat­ter to you. I laughed, I felt tear­ful and re­joiced as I read her mem­oir. Her hon­esty about their home life, their wor­ries about child­care, be­ing sad­dled with stu­dent debt, jug­gling work and fam­ily life, the strug­gles of shar­ing your life with a part­ner who is just as am­bi­tious and in­vested in their work were a real rev­e­la­tion and re­fresh­ing to read. I could re­late to ev­ery sin­gle one of those chal­lenges. I also cried when my nanny gave in her no­tice! It seems in­signif­i­cant but any fam­ily with work­ing par­ents un­der­stands the pain of the loss of good qual­ity child­care and the pro­found im­pact it can have on your abil­ity to meet your pro­fes­sional com­mit­ments.

One of my favourite sto­ries in the mem­oir is Michelle Obama re­call­ing turn­ing up for an in­ter­view with her baby. She had all but given up with find­ing child­care and sim­ply de­cided to take her baby to the in­ter­view with her. She then pro­ceeded to ne­go­ti­ate a salary that would enable her to do her best work with­out wor­ry­ing about child­care and her stu­dent debt. The fact that she still got the job is a huge les­son in self-be­lief, con­fi­dence and learn­ing to ask for what you be­lieve you need to do your best work.

I also al­ways won­dered how she gave such emo­tion­ally rous­ing speeches seem­ingly with­out us­ing any prompts. Now I know. She was so en­gag­ing and au­then­tic be­cause she al­ways spoke from the heart about is­sues that mat­tered to her. Her au­then­tic­ity and re­fusal to be any­thing other than her­self, even in the face of harsh me­dia and pub­lic scru­tiny is in­spir­ing.

The mem­oir made me see the Oba­mas as hu­man. The Oba­mas are ev­ery­day peo­ple with the same chal­lenges and tri­umphs as any one of us. We tend to see any­one on a podium es­pe­cially a Pres­i­dent and First Lady as hav­ing some su­per­pow­ers that enable them to be and to do what they do. Read­ing this book gave me hope be­cause the Oba­mas are reg­u­lar peo­ple who al­lowed them­selves to dream.

Hav­ing said that, I am sure it takes some su­per­hu­man pow­ers to reg­u­larly wake up at 4.30 am to fit in ex­er­cise af­ter the hec­tic daily sched­ule she de­scribe.

What I love about the book is the hon­esty of it all. I have read many po­lit­i­cal mem­oirs but I can­not re­mem­ber en­joy­ing one as much as I have Michelle Obama’s mem­oir. I would ab­so­lutely rec­om­mend this book to any­body look­ing to dream again but also have hope that good things do hap­pen to good peo­ple. I have noth­ing but praise for this book.

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