Becoming: Adapted for Young Readers
By Lucinda Dyer,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Candid and inspiring memoir from a former First Lady.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
For young political junkies, Michelle Obama offers a window into life on the campaign trail and what it's like to serve as a state senator, U.S. senator, and president.
An education is worth all the hard work you put into it. A good education can be the springboard to achieving your dreams.
Positive Role Models
While Obama is herself a role model for studying hard and dreaming big, she also writes about a number of her own role models. Her father taught her to box and throw a football, work hard, laugh often, and keep her word. Her mother showed her how to think for herself and use her own voice. As a young lawyer, friends Susan Sher and Valerie Jarrett showed her how to speak her mind in a roomful of opinionated men.
Violence & Scariness
Obama writes about (but never graphically describes) a number of violent events that took place during her years in the White House. The murder of children and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School. A pastor and members of a Bible study at Mother Emmanuel Church in Charleston, South Carolina gunned down by a young White man. Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old honor student in Chicago, who was shot and killed when someone mistook her for a gang member. Young Black men (Michael Brown, Tamar Rice, and Eric Garner) who were killed by police. Students at a Chicago high school tell her about friends and family members shot and killed or wounded in random violence.
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Products & Purchases
Scattered references to TV shows (Leave It to Beaver, Sesame Street, The Mary Tyler Moore Show), musicals (Hamilton), and singers (Zendaya, Kelly Clarkson, Missy Elliott).
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults occasionally drink and smoke cigarettes.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Becoming: Adapted for Young Readers is a memoir by former First Lady Michelle Obama. She takes readers along as she shares her story "in all it's messy glory" -- from growing up in a working class neighborhood in Chicago to being a one of the few Black students at Princeton and Harvard Law School. Then onto working as a high powered corporate attorney, marriage, and a very unexpected life as the wife of the 44th president. She shares what it was like for a young family living in the White House (it's really big and the Secret Service follows you everywhere) and world travels where she met Nelson Mandela and got chatty with the Queen of England. Obama writes about, but never graphically describes, a number of violent events that took place during her years in the White House: the mass murders at Sandy Hook Elementary School and Mother Emmanuel Church and the killing of young Black men by police.
Where to Read
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What's the Story?
In Becoming, Michelle Obama takes readers from her childhood in Chicago all the way to her last days in the White House. Michelle Robinson grew up in a working class neighborhood sharing a room with her older brother, Craig. Her father worked tending a boiler (even after he became disabled with MS) and both her parents empowered their children to dream big dreams. A gifted student, she followed her brother to Princeton, which was very White and very male. After Harvard Law School, she went home to Chicago and a job at a "fancy" law firm, where she was asked to mentor a summer intern named Barack Obama. She would leave the law firm for a job at City Hall and then one with a startup that trained and mentored young people. The Obamas began married life in the apartment she grew up in, had two daughters, and started what Michelle Obama thought would be a life in Chicago surrounded by family and friends. That, of course, was not what the future held. There would be campaigns for state senator, U.S. senator, and finally for president. The chapters on life in the White House focus on family rather than politics. She shares lots of stories about what the family did to make life as normal as possible while being accompanied everywhere by the Secret Service (nightly family dinners, sleepovers and parties for Sasha and Malia's friends, shopping incognito at Target, making certain they were at school basketball games and swim meets, arranging driving lessons for Malia). Obama ends her story looking forward, writing that "becoming is never giving up on the idea that there's more growing to be done."
Is It Any Good?
This memoir is written in such a warm and easy style that readers will feel as if they're curled up on a couch with Michelle Obama as she talks about her life. While Becoming has a fair share of chapters about politics, most of her story is easily relatable to young readers -- struggling to fit in at school, being underestimated by a teacher, having a family member who's ill, breaking up with a boyfriend, and what it's like to be a kid in the White House (the Secret Service coming along when you hang out with friends, go shopping, or go to prom).
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about what they learned from Becoming about using your school years as a time to "define yourself." How have you changed over the past two years? How would you define yourself today?
How different would your daily life be if you were followed everywhere by bodyguards?
What would you like to become? Would it be just one thing or do you have a long list of things you might like to be in life?
- Author: Michelle Obama
- Genre: Autobiography
- Topics: Activism, Great Girl Role Models, High School, History, Middle School
- Book type: Non-Fiction
- Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: March 2, 2021
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 10 - 14
- Number of pages: 403
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: August 15, 2021
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