The Knackered Parents' Book Club reviews 'Becoming' by Michelle Obama.

I want to congratulate all the tired mums and dads out there who are battling work and family life and a brutal lack of sleep. You are not alone! Despite all of the above, I can't quite believe we have read our way to our twelfth book. Happy one year anniversary knackered parents. Let's celebrate by talking about the inspiration that is Michelle Obama...


I haven't read many autobiographies and I'm not normally a fan of non-fiction, but this autobiography had me hooked. Michelle grew up in the South Shore neighbourhood of Chicago in a second floor apartment. What struck me about her childhood, was how driven she was to succeed from such a young age. When she was unable to read the word 'white' in a class test, she went home and practised it again and again. 'I just wanted to achieve. Or maybe I didn't want to be dismissed as incapable of achieving'. Where had this self-discipline and desire to achieve come from? I don't believe any child is incapable of achieving, but somewhere along the line, some sadly begin to believe this. Michelle's parent's were very supportive and were able to instil into her that if you are at a disadvantage, (studying a subject you find tricky or a black woman in a mostly white, male college) then you need to find some way to level the playing field. It is a perhaps rare self belief that it is not you, but the systems, mechanisms and institutions that judge you, that are flawed.


Throughout the autobiography you get a sense of how personable Michelle is. I related to her struggles as a new mum, as she tried to find a work/life balance. I laughed when reading about her grievances with Barack Obama, when he came home late for dinner and messed up the girls bedtime. It seems to me that Michelle has always strived for better, while at the same time inhabiting the real world, maybe this is the key to her success. Barack Obama said 'you may live in the world as it is, but you can still work to create the world as it should be'


Some might look at Michelle's life story with a cynical eye. Another success story pedalling the American Dream. For millions of people, hard work does not equal success. But I don't think you can ignore her achievements as first lady; a levelling off of childhood obesity rates, the Reach Higher programme to encourage children from all walks of life to go to college, her support of Obama care.


In a world where hatred is becoming a normality, we need more voices like hers. Michelle describes the hatred in America as 'old and deep and as dangerous as ever'. You don't need to be an American to recognise the truth in this.

Michelle's message is clear; let's try to counter this hatred with care, consideration, community spirit, tolerance and grace.

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