‘An American Marriage’ by Tayari Jones

I have seen this book get rave reviews when it came out but honestly, at the time, it wasn’t high on my TBR list. In fact, I probably wouldn’t have read it at all had I not received it as a gift. And yet again, I would have missed out on a great book.

Given the current racial tensions in the United States following the death of George Floyd, this was a good book to read to give some perspective on African American issues. Granted it is fiction, but once again, the fiction narrative provides a realistic picture of what minorities face by the police and justice system. But this book goes into so much more.

Roy and Celeste are happily married, making plans to have children, open a business and Roy to move up in his job, when suddenly their world is torn apart. A woman falsely identifies Roy as being at the scene of a crime and despite Celeste providing testimony to the contrary, Roy is convicted. And it all comes down to the fact that Roy is African American. Jones highlights everything that is wrong with the justice system and the racism embedded in it. But the arrest is just one part of the story.

What Tayari also shines a light on is the impact these decisions have on these families and how even love can only go so far. What happens to each of these characters is understandable and yet infuriating. I was angry with Celeste at what she does but at the same time I couldn’t help wondering if I wouldn’t have done the same thing. As she says, she is innocent. She didn’t ask for any of this to happen, but at the same time, neither did Roy. In some ways I thought Roy was being selfish, but other times I could totally understand how he felt. In an essay about the book, Jones says she purposely makes the situation where none of the characters are right or wrong. And by doing so, the reader is presented with a full picture on how this can impact everyone and you are left with a bundle of mixed emotions with no one to direct them at.

While the ending is bittersweet, I honestly don’t think it would have worked any other way. No one would have been happy and while it is hard to give up something such as love, sometimes letting go is the best decision for everyone involved.

It’s been a few weeks since I read this but I still think about it. It has made a few lists of fiction book recommendations that deal with African American issues or experiences. I would highly recommend it.


Have you read “An American Marriage”? What did you think? What other books that deal with minority issues would you recommend? Let’s discuss!

Book club discussion: “Disgrace” by J.M. Coetzee

I had never read anything by J.M. Coetzee before. I am not going to lie, I had never even heard the name Coetzee until book club members suggested this book to read. I knew it was going to be a good one by how many members recommended it. What I didn’t expect was how damn dark and depressing it would be. This book is not easy to read, and can definitely be a trigger.

Tonight when we met to discuss the book, the members who suggested reading the book apologized because they had forgotten how dark it was. Yet, despite that, everyone thought the book was well done.

According to the summary:

At fifty-two, Professor David Lurie is divorced, filled with desire, but lacking in passion. When an affair with a student leaves him jobless, shunned by friends, and ridiculed by his ex-wife, he retreats to his daughter Lucy’s smallholding. David’s visit becomes an extended stay as he attempts to find meaning in his one remaining relationship. Instead, an incident of unimaginable terror and violence forces father and daughter to confront their strained relationship and the equality complicated racial complexities of the new South Africa. 

If there is one thing to note about this book, is that despite it being written in 1999, many of the occurrences in this book were very much relevant today, especially the misogynistic qualities in David. He pretty much forces himself on a student because he thinks he has a right to.

“Because a woman’s beauty does not belong to her alone. It is part of the bounty she brings into the world. She has a duty to share it.” 

I kid you not, that was his reasoning. All I could think when I read that was, “Seriously?! WTF?! Ugh!” I was so disgusted. Many of the members agreed, calling him a “slimeball” and more. One member, who was reading this for the second time, said that she didn’t recall how disgusting he was but that given everything going on with the current #MeToo movement and the Harvey Weinsteins of the world, her views had shifted since first reading the book. It made his character all the more prevalent.

I thought it was pretty ironic that David pretty much forces the affair with the student at the beginning of the book and doesn’t think anything of it, but then later when his own daughter gets attacked, he is absolutely horrified. It is all the matter of perspective, I guess. David’s view shifts from the one doing it to the one observing it being done on someone he loves. Though I will say that his daughter’s attack is much worse. Just fair warning, if you plan to read the book.

What I and many members didn’t understand is why the women in this book were all passive. The student simply allows David to do what he wants to her without objecting and even encourages it at one point. It seems that she only reports him because she is forced to by her boyfriend and father. Then David’s daughter refuses to report the attack or leave the house, despite knowing that it could happen again. The females in the group said they would have left the first chance they got. Though I understand that Lucy didn’t want the men who did what they did to win, where is the line drawn in the sand?

The racial undertones of this books were subtle but startling. When Lucy finds herself in a precarious position later in the book, she agrees to marry her neighbor who is African. She knows that as a white, single, lesbian she is in danger of being attacked again, if not worse, all because she owns property that some would argue is not rightfully hers. By marrying her neighbor Petrus, who has two other wives, she has a form of protection. He can have her land as long she can continue to live where she lives. Some members thought this was her way trying to apologize for what white people had done, a form of reparations.

Many of us thought that the neighbor was the reason for the attack, not to be malicious but to get her to leave so he can own the land. At the beginning Petrus owns just the barn and a little plot that it sits on at the far end of Lucy’s property. But throughout the book, he begins to expand those boundaries. It’s almost as if he knows that there is nothing Lucy can do about it and so he patiently waits her out.

Disgrace, the title of this book, is fitting because it is portrayed throughout the book, from David’s disgrace from the university to his own daughter’s disgrace after the attack. Coetzee has a way of describing the human condition at its worst. You can understand each of the characters but at the same time all you want is to do away with them.

Our group spent nearly two hours discussing this book. There are so many layers that it is hard to write about them in one post and to be honest, I am still trying to wrap my head around everything. It’s only 200 pages but there is so much in it. It’s one of those books that you have to read multiple times to fully grasp what the author is trying to convey. But there is one line at the start of the book that really got my attention and I will end this post with it.

“The one who comes to teach learns the keenest of lessons, while those who come to learn, learn nothing.”

 

 

‘Oryx and Crake’ by Margaret Atwood

I’m beginning to think that Margaret Atwood has the gift of foresight. How else can you explain her knack for writing a dystopian novel that in reality, doesn’t seem quite unrealistic? First, it was “The Handmaid’s Tale” that was written in the 1980s and is as relevant today as before. Now, I finish “Oryx and Crake” and I can’t helping feeling the same thing.

In the open pages of Oryx and Crake the reader is introduced to Snowman, who is all alone, half dressed in a tattered sheet with bug bites and scabs. He is alone except for the children, who at first glance appear to be native children that can’t understand Snowman. You can’t help wonder if he is a foreigner or are they? However the answer is neither. For Snowman is the only human left on earth after a viral plague wipes out mankind. The children are not entirely human or human in the everyday sense of the word. Doesn’t sound so far off does it?

What is even more scary is how this plague comes to be. In true fashion, Atwood is no secret to reveal the answer too quickly. Through flashbacks, the reader goes back to pre-plague, to uncover the story that Snowman – or Jimmy as he referred to then – has to tell. Back to the days when you either lived in the Pleeblands (the world as we know it) or the compounds where things are orderly and safe. The compounds consist of scientists or workers for a scientific agency, which is focused on making everything in the world better, safer, healthier, last longer – through scientific modification.

What is scary is how close to reality this book comes. It’s almost as if Atwood took what she saw going on in the scientific community and then took it a few steps further by thinking of the worst possible scenario. I mean this book was written in the early 2000s and yet, they have things that are being introduced to society now. Plant-based meat was not a thing until a few years ago, but it is in this book. Then the virus? We know that there is a plague, as is given in the summary on the back cover, but how or why, is painfully revealed slowly. While the virus is different, what happens is eerily all too much reality at the moment. It almost makes you wonder whether some of the conspiracy theorists about COVID-19 are on to something.

I loved the false sense of security that Atwood sets up with all the characters and the relationships between them. For example Jimmy and Crake are best friends, and you know that since Jimmy is now alone that something happened to Crake, but what? Did Jimmy watch his friend die a brutal death or did they have a falling out before then?

Then there is the whole love story between Jimmy and Oryx, who meet in the most unexpected circumstances. Given their history, you wonder if they are going to actually be together. Then when just as your cheering for Jimmy to finally have found his person, the rug is pulled again.

For the duration of the reader is sitting on the edge of their seat waiting for the shoe to fall, waiting for when the big reveal will happen until it does in the most unexpected way. Then you just want to flip back to the beginning because you feel like you missed something. There had to be an Easter egg somewhere.

This is definitely a great read, but if the current happenings in the world are freaking you out, it may be better to wait a bit. I am not one to read series or trilogies but I must say that I am definitely intrigued about what happens in this dystopian world.


Have you read “Oryx and Crake”? What other dystopian novels have you read recently? Let’s discuss!

‘Two for the Dough’ by Janet Evanovich

I read “One for the Money” about two years ago after a friend recommended it. I loved it and wanted to continue to read the Plum series and finally got around to the sequel, “Two for the Dough.” Though I will say that I wasn’t as engaged with the sequel as I was with the first one. Maybe it is just the story line, but it wasn’t until I was halfway through the book that I began to enjoy it.

This time bounty hunter Stephanie Plum has been tasked with picking up Kenny Mancusco, who has jumped bail. Stephanie thinks it is going to be an easy pickup, except for the fact that noone has seen Kenny, including his cousin, Joe Morelli, who also happens to be a cop that is constantly getting in Stephanie’s way. Then Kenny’s best friend ends up shot and a cache of guns and caskets go missing, but as Stephanie continues to search for the elusive Kenny, dead body parts begin showing up on her doorstep and Stephanie finds herself once again in danger. She knows she must find Kenny to end it.

I think why I dragged at the start of this book was that there was no brief recap. Traditionally in sequels or series, the author will throw in a paragraph or two to explain key elements to refresh the reader on who some of the characters were. Having read the first book so awhile back, I was trying to remember exactly what happened and who was who. I totally forgot that Joe Morelli was the one that Stephanie was trying to nab in the first book, though it was a misunderstanding. While Evanovich does say that they do have a history, it wasn’t clear what that history was. If someone were reading this book first, they would just assume that Stephanie and Morelli have been dating on and off. Considering that this book started right in the middle of a stakeout, I was feeling adrift and it took some time to get my bearings.

The saving grace in this book is Stephanie’s Grandma Mazur. I swear she is the best character. That woman is an absolute hoot. Throughout the book, she tags along with Stephanie to funeral parlors where the most ridiculous things happen, from caskets accidentally opening to things breaking and so on. Whenever Grandma Mazur is around, something is bound to happen. And the words that come out of her mouth are classic.

I swear, if Stephanie’s mother is not my own mother, I will eat my hat. I couldn’t help but cringe with Stephanie when she had to move briefly back home to keep a watch on Grandma. I swear as soon as her mother started in, I thought my mother had entered the book. The dialogue was straight from my own family, who happen to live in New Jersey. I could definitely relate, which is why I keep coming back for more. This book is all about the characters and Evanovich does them so well.

Overall, while the book had its faults, it still a fun read for when you want something light. Evanovich’s writing is simple and again, the characters will definitely keep you turning the pages.


Have you read “Two for the Dough?” What did you think? Let’s discuss!

 

Book Club Discussion: ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ by Lewis Carroll

For the month of June, the Society for Avid Readers Across the Hudson (SARAH) Book Club read Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” Most of the group had read the book as a child so this was a reread for many, except for yours truly. I had never read the book but was quite familiar with the story, having grown up on the Disney movie and later watching the Tim Burton version.

If you don’t know the story, a young girl name Alice is sitting with her sister one day when she suddenly sees a white rabbit. While a rabbit isn’t extraordinary, the fact that this one can talk and seems to be watching the time on a pocketwatch has little Alice intrigued. She decides to follow the rabbit, and ends up down the rabbit hole. After falling for what seems like eternity, she ends up in Wonderland and there she is introduced to a myriad of characters including the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat and of course the evil Queen of Hearts, who does nothing but scream “Off with your head!”

This is a simple, fun read, especially for a child. While I did enjoy it, I think I would have enjoyed it more if I was younger. The book itself is a bit surreal and nonsensical. Obviously when we get to the end, we understand why, but all the same, there were parts of the book where I couldn’t make heads or tales about what was going on or why. I wasn’t the only one who felt that way as many in the group said the same. Some even compared this book to feeling like they were on drugs. I guess it is a bit “trippy”, but I guess the best way to describe it can be summed up with the movies. The Disney version, which is obviously for kids, makes it exciting as we follow Alice on her adventures, while the Tim Burton movie is a bit unique to say the least. If you know Tim Burton’s movies, you know what I am talking about.

If you have seen the movies and are reading this book for the first time, you will think that the book has left out some characters or key elements that are in the movies. I came to find out that this is because the movies combine the book with it’s sequel, “Through the Looking Glass”, which I have obviously not read. Will I read it? That has yet to be determined.

The group also talked about how this book remain popular since it was first published in 1865 and how it continues to be referenced today in pop culture, from bands using it as inspiration in their music to popular English phrases such as “Mad as Hatter” or “Smiling like a Cheshire Cat”. The teacups at many amusements parks are inspired by this children’s classic and there is even a medical term called the Alice in Wonderland syndrome, where people perceives objects around them as smaller or larger than they are. This book has stood the test of time and should definitely be read at least once.


Have you read “Alice’s Adventure’s in Wonderland”? What did you think?

 

 

 

‘Regeneration’ by Pat Barker

I had never heard about Pat Barker until my book club recommended “Regeneration”, the first book of a trilogy, for our new reading list. At first I was skeptical. We had read two “war” books and I didn’t finish either of them. Yet, this book was different. It focused more on the horrors that soldier face while on the front as well as the psychological impacts as a result. I finished this book over two weeks ago, but it took me awhile to get my thoughts straight.

It starts with Siegfried Sassoon who writes a memo refusing to continue serving as an officer in World War I because he doesn’t believe in the cause behind it. Diagnosed as “shell shocked” He is sent to Craiglockart War Hospital where he becomes the patient of Dr. William Rivers. Rivers doesn’t think that there is anything mentally wrong with Sassoon, but fears that he is anti-war and will make trouble. However, Rivers agrees to treat Sassoon and is determined to send him back to service.

While at the hospital, we are introduced to Rivers’ other patients, all soldiers who suffer from PTSD as a result of war trauma. David Burns is a patient who is unable to eat after a bomb throws him headlong into the gut of a rotting soldier; Billy Prior suffers from mutism whenever he is forced to remember what happened in the war as well as asthma, which prevents him from returning; and Anderson, a prior surgeon, has a mental breakdown and can’t stand the sight of blood.

Through these characters, we see how trauma is different in each individual and the journey each takes to heal. Through Rivers’ treatment, each learns to deal with their trauma in different ways. At the same time, Rivers begins to see his patients in a new way and begins to think that Sassoon may have had a point about the war. He begins to question whether the sole purpose of his treatment is to send soldiers back and for what reason. This is highlighted when Rivers goes to study another doctor who uses electroshock treatment to cure a different case of mutism. Rivers, who suffers from a stutter, is horrified.

Through the book, Barker highlights other themes including sexuality, masculinity, identity and social structure. While Billy is dating a woman in town, there are subtle hints that Billy may be gay or bisexual, though it is never clearly resolved. Also, when Prior is given home service due to his asthma, he thinks he will be seen as a coward. Even Sassoon decides to return to the war because of his guilt of leaving the other men behind.

Barker has a way of making you connect with each of the characters  so that you feel that you know each of them personally. While I have never been to war and could not possibly understand what soldiers go through, I felt like I was there with each them. There is so much packed into this book that I was startled when I got to the end and sad that I had to leave them. I originally had no plans to read the other two books in this trilogy, but now I feel invested and want to see how these characters make out. I can’t wait to talk about this book next week in book club.

‘Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers’ by Mary Roach

You must be thinking, “What in the world possessed you to read a book about cadavers?” The simple answer: curiosity. You can’t read a title such as this and not think, what lives do cadavers have? They are dead people. Plus, my book club mentioned that they had read this book previously and I figured it must be interesting if it was discussed in such a setting.

Honestly, I thought I knew everything I needed to know about cadavers. People die and they either get buried or get cremated. Some donate their organs to science. But as Roach points out, in a very unexpected detailed way, cadavers actually do a lot more than just that.

In fact, now that I have read this book, I feel I know everything I need to know about cadavers and the curious lives they lead, from being test dummies to improve driver safety and being subjects for medical students to practice skills on, to helping understand the different stages of decay and being part of experiments to see if cadaver parts can be used for transplants.

This was a surprisingly easy book to read. Usually with books about science, a reader can get bogged down with trying to understand all the scientific terminology, or in this case, medical terminology, that often has words so long, they make you tongue tied. However, Roach breaks everything down in layman’s terms that is easy to understand and sometimes, a little too detailed.

With such a morbid topic, it is inevitable that parts of this book were going to get a bit gross. If you are squeamish or get grossed out easily, you may want to forgo this book or enter with caution, especially the chapter called Eat Me. That’s right, Roach even goes into the history of cannibalism. Let’s just say I made sure I wasn’t eating when I reached this chapter. I’m actually glad she names the chapters to provide some bit of a warning of what you are about to get.

Overall, I thought it was an interesting book to read and I did learn some stuff I didn’t know. However, I don’t think it is a book that I would return to over and over again. I’m glad I read it but honestly, it’s a one and done.

‘The Book of Longings’ by Sue Monk Kidd

Sue Monk Kidd is an author whose writing gets better and better as she goes along. I have read all of her novels and though I enjoyed her first two, I wasn’t awed by them. Then I read “Invention of Wings” and I didn’t think it could get any better. But all hail, Kidd’s newest tale “The Book of Longings.”

“I am Ana. I was the wife of Jesus ben Joseph of Nazareth. I called him beloved, he laughingly, called me Little Thunder…”

So immediately you may think, wait, what? Jesus had a wife? There is a lot of debate about Jesus and what he may or may not have done during his life. There are arguments about whether Jesus may have married and started a family. Some would argue Jesus is God’s son and had only one purpose on earth, to save us from sin. He was above manly pleasures. And then there are others that simply point out that while this is true, Jesus was still in fact a man and would have had to live by the traditions and culture of the time. Therefore he was bound to marry and have children.

And while it is this point that Kidd seems to use as a foundation, this story is by no means about Jesus. It is about Ana, who ends up marrying Jesus. But who is she? I can tell you, now that I have gotten to know her, she is a strong, independent woman who would make the best of friends. In fact, I am quite sad that I had to part with her.

When we first meet her, Ana would rather spend her days with her papyrus and ink then fulfilling her womanly duties, i.e. get married, have children and tend to a house. She longs to be a scribe and forego all other responsibilities. But alas, the day comes when, to her horror, she finds her parents signing her marriage contract to an old widower. It’s bad enough she has to marry but to an old man?! But then she meets Jesus and everything changes.

As if by a twist of fate, Ana finds herself in the middle of a scandal that not only frees her from her unwanted marriage, but almost brings her to her own demise. Then Jesus agrees to marry her and everything seems to align.

I loved the relationship between Jesus and Ana, the playful banter between the two and more importantly the respect. The two understand each other’s desires and secret longings. Surprisingly, Jesus doesn’t expect Ana to give up her writing entirely when they marry. While he does ask her for some restraint, he does allow her some freedom to indulge in her passion, especially when the time calls for it.

While Ana’s life passes by, marked by the pivotal moments in Jesus’ life, from his meeting of John the Baptist to his ministry and finally his crucifixion, his story never overshadows hers. In fact, Ana and Jesus seem like any other couple. Kidd presents Jesus as a man who goes off to find work like any other. He is moved by the politics of the time and the anger among the Jews about the Romans who rule over them. The infamous Judas also plays a role as he is Ana’s half brother. We get to see him as the brother who goes out of his way to defend his sister but he is also the man who differs with Jesus on how to incite the Romans. While Jesus would rather use his ministry to show the people love, Judas wants to take up the sword, ultimately leading to the betrayal that he is known for. 

In the meantime, Ana has created her own infamy and when she involuntarily incites the wrath of the tetrarch Herod Antipas, she finds herself on her way to Egypt with her Aunt, another character that you can’t help but love. Yaltha is another strong female that doesn’t bend to her strong-willed family, even though her own scandalous past has determined her fate. She ends up being the strength that Ana relies on to get her through everything she endures. I loved the relationship between the two and wanted my own Aunt Yaltha who understood all my longings and I could tell all my secrets to.

In fact, there wasn’t a character I didn’t like in this book, other than Ana’s mother and Herod Antipas. Ana’s mother is vindictive and wants only what is best for herself. As for Herod Antipas, he was just evil, pure and simple. But even then they were central to Ana’s story and helped her become who she becomes.

From the first page, this story grabs you and doesn’t let go. It’s as if Kidd has weaved some magical powers in these pages, that makes you forget where you are. Every time I picked up this book, I was immediately transported back to Sepphoris or Egypt. I would forget I was sitting on my couch in upstate NY until I would look up from reading. I would actually be disappointed and would want to read more just to go back. It’s been a few days since I finished this book and I am still thinking about it. It is definitely a 5 out of 5.

 

‘Orphan Train’ by Christina Baker Kline

Yet again, I have learned more from a fictional book than I have from the history books growing up. Before reading “Orphan Train” by Christina Baker Kline, I had no clue about the program in the late 1800s, early 1900s to transport orphaned or homeless children from the east coast to the midwest in the hopes of finding them homes. While you would think that this would be a heartwarming story of children finding a new life, it wasn’t always that way, as some kids ended up in an abusive environment or were ended up more impoverished than they were previously.

Christina Baker Kline uses this moment in history to create an emotional tale that is divided into two story lines – one focused on present day where 17-year-old Molly Ayer is trying to adjust in her new foster home in Maine, one of many since her parents died. The other goes back a few decades to tell the story of young Irish immigrant named Niamh who has recently lost her parents to a horrific fire in New York and finds herself boarding a train with hundreds of other orphaned children to a destination unknown in the midwest.

In an attempt to keep from getting thrown out of her latest foster arrangement after getting caught stealing, Molly seeks to complete community service by cleaning out the attic of an old lady named Vivian. Molly thinks it will be an easy assignment, but as the two start going through the trunks filled with dust and old memories, Molly realizes that the two may have more in common then she originally thought.

Meanwhile, we follow Niamh’s journey that has a few bumpy starts after getting adopted by a seamstress. When the business goes bankrupt with the stock market crash Niamh is back where she started until the program finds her a new home in a derelict household where Niamh is in charge of taking care of several children. However, after a traumatic experience, Niamh is thrown into the hands of several people who set her on a straighter path and a new identity.

I absolutely loved this story, especially after I learned how the two storylines ended up merging together. I loved the relationship between Vivian and Molly. While it may seem of a cliche story line of a young recluse finding her way through the direction of a wise older mentor, Kline does it in such a way that it is bittersweet. Both characters get something out of the bargain but I think Vivian more than Molly. I thought the ending was going to be that Molly finds purpose and Vivian says goodbye to some old ghosts but it ends up being so much more. The fact that it is the start of a whole new chapter in some regards for both of them was definitely unexpected, but I won’t say more for fear of giving it away.

Kline did a great a job with this story and her writing was enveloping. Every time I picked up this book, I had no trouble picking up where I left off and being swept away with the story. I honestly didn’t want this story to end.

‘Becoming’ by Michelle Obama

I have been wanting to read this “Becoming” by Michelle Obama since it came out. I am not sure why. I will admit, I wasn’t particularly a huge fan of the Obamas when they were in office. Yet, I was curious what Michelle Obama had to say.

And boy did she have a lot to say. If you go into this book thinking that you are simply going to read about her life, you are sadly mistaken. It’s more than an autobiography. It’s a message for women, it’s a message for those who have struggled through life, it’s a message for everyone.

I enjoyed this book way more than I thought I would. I was particularly surprised by how relatable it was.  There is no doubt about it, Michelle Obama is an strong, independent woman and has been since she was a child. I found myself smiling at some of things she went through because it was like looking into my past. Proving that just because you’re a female, doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve the same opportunities as a man.

“Failure is a feeling long before it becomes an actual result. It’s vulnerability that breeds with self doubt and then is escalated often deliberately by fear.”

This quote early on in the book really resonated with me. And Michelle proved time and again that even if you’re afraid of failure, you still have to go for it. More often than that you can succeed. All you have to do is try.

Although I am not African American, as she discussed affirmative action after being accepted to Princeton, I felt like I had had that conversation before. My best friend, Carmen, who is Colombian has echoed Michelle’s doubt plenty of times. Had she truly deserved the slot at the college or that promotion at her job? Or was she simply filling a slot because the color of her skin was darker? But like Michelle, the doubts would soon go away and she would start doing things better than everyone else. She would find her niche and prove that she deserved to be there.

I also enjoyed reading about Michelle’s relationship with Barack and it was a relief that it wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns. I mean, every relationship isn’t perfect, but Michelle’s honesty was a bit surprising, considering she was talking about the former President of the United States. It was really interesting to read how Michelle struggled to stay true to herself while supporting the man she loved, and at the same time not becoming an extension of his shadow. I loved her take charge attitude and made sure that her voice was heard.

She learned to see the positive in things, even if she didn’t agree with them, like politics. I wasn’t expecting her to actually be so honest about how she didn’t want Barack to go into the Senate and then run for the presidency. Yet, through all of it, she stayed true to her own vision and tried to make the most amount of difference in the roles that she had.

I could probably go on and on about this book, but I will let you read it for yourself, if you haven’t already. What I realized while reading is this is only one of the First Ladies out of 45. I suddenly wondered what the other First Lady’s lives were like. I bet some of their stories are actually more interesting than their husbands. And so a new reading list was born.


Have you read “Becoming”? What did you think? What other memoirs would you recommend? Let’s discuss!