Inside Michelle Obama’s head: In Her Own Words

Michelle Obama addressing a gathering in a past event. PHOTO/Courtesy.

Author: Michelle Obama

Editors: Marta Evans and Hanna Masters

Publisher: B2 BOOK (Agate Publishing Inc.)

Reviewer: Josiah Odanga

I read this book from the cover to the blurb in less than two hours.

One of the reasons is that it outlines Michelle Obama’s life experiences and how she thinks about them in a precise manner.

Another reason is to be found in the flavor and wisdom that oozes from every quotable quote that has gone into this book.

That said, I have a feeling that this book would richly benefit any reader and change their perspective towards different issues of life.

You remember this infamous maxim: If you want to hide something from an African then do so inside a book?

Here is to all that one needs to start seeing life differently and achieving continuously.

As you may be aware already, Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama, whom the book is about, is a former First Lady of the United States of America, Community Worker, Lawyer, Mother, Wife and Daughter.

She is a top-grade brain in her career and areas of specialization.

Her achievements and success best illustrate what it really means for girls to be brought up well, get a good education and be given access to platforms to unleash their maximum potential and achieve.

In this book, an outline of some of the shreds of intellect that have guided her enviable paths since her childhood in her parents’ tiny Chicago’s South-Side apartment, through to her education, marriage, parenthood, politics and community service are shared.

More interestingly, the insights are conveyed through quotes from the many speeches she has delivered in different places and spaces.

Quotes that have been picked from Michelle’s random utterances at political events, social media posts, public lectures, her Becoming memoir, and of course, her parents’ perspectives as revealed through flashbacks.

Of her childhood, Marta Evans and Hannah Masters highlight one quote by Michelle that parents should reflect on if there is to be a turn-around on how they (especially Africans) raise up their children.

She says “Our voices had real value in our house. There are some people who raise kids and use the philosophy ‘kids are to be seen and not heard,’ and it was just the opposite for us.”

This quote and many others in the first part of this book speaks of freedom to the child, so that children can explore and ask questions.

Still, on parenting, she goes further and explains how parents should behave in their everyday lives.

“Kids will model what they see at home, and the values that are promoted at home, so whether they have a lot or a little, they still know what their parents believe and what they expect.”

The greatest lesson to underline here is that children should be modeled at home, no matter how the home looks like – poor or wealthy.

She opines that there is no other person who can best perform the duty of raising a child well other than the parent.

Then there is education, a very important asset that no one should lack.

“The ability to read, write and analyze. The confidence to stand up and demand justice and equality.

The qualifications and connections to get your foot in that door and take your seat at the table. All of that starts with education,” says Michelle Obama.

Perhaps one might be wondering what a marriage is or should look like.

Currently, there seems to be a relationship calamity in Africa!

Young men and women of marriage age are more concerned with getting the best husband or wife. They want to simply tick all the boxes and get married!

From this book, you will realize that the 2019 Most Admired Woman in the World – Michelle Obama (according to Gallup), confronted life the way it came.

In Her Own Words, Michelle Obama’s book cover.

“Before I met Barack, I was all about checking off the next box – law school, law firm, nice car. But he taught me the art of the swerve, how to take life as it comes and follow your passions wherever they lead,” she says.

Cognizant of the fact that potential can be found in the most unlikely of places and people, the book outlines a lot of sayings by the former First Lady of America that would leave anyone who would want to achieve something in this world awed.

Various paragraphs underscore her consciousness about life, and so the book boldly prints Michelle’s empathetic views.

“Empathy. That’s something I have been thinking a lot about lately…. If we see someone suffering or struggling, we don’t stand in judgment, we reach out.”

Well, there are other platforms from which someone can read and watch and learn about Michelle’s intellect, but this book is just a condensed version of the public intellectual’s life philosophies.

If there is one reason one needs the details of this masterpiece, then it is in this concluding saying by Michelle at Bell Multicultural High School on November 12, 2013.

“My story can be your story. The details might be a little different, but let me tell you, so many of the challenges and triumphs will be just the same.”

The book also explains the milestones in Michelle’s life from 1964 when she was born to 2020, when she is now featuring on TV series and winning prestigious awards such as the Grammy Award.

At 58, Michelle Obama is still working towards a better self; her achievements, among them, becoming the First Lady, notwithstanding.

For Michelle, “becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim… the journey doesn’t end.”


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Mr. Odanga is a Kenyan multimedia journalist, with a strong bias for writing.


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