Critical Essay on "Becoming": A Memoir by Mitchell Obama

Published: 2023-04-12
Critical Essay on "Becoming": A Memoir by Mitchell Obama
Type of paper:  Book review
Categories:  American literature Barack Obama
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1504 words
13 min read


The book "Becoming" was released in the year 2018. It is one of the bestselling memoirs for it has sold more than ten million copies. In the book, Mitchell Obama invites us into her life from when she was a young girl until she grew up and became the first black lady in America through his husband, Barack Obama. She described when she was in school, where Mitchell graduated from Princeton with a degree in Law and became a lawyer. It explains how Mitchell met Barack Obama, became a wife, and God blessed them with two kids and became one happy family. Mitchell states the struggles she went through, up to when she became the first black lady. The efforts included her life in the political arena and her experience as a black first lady. The below review will be discussing the lessons learnt and themes, as seen in the book "Becoming".

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Some themes are most evident in the book, such as the topic of racism and segregation. Mitchell talks about her childhood growing up in the Southside of Chicago, and how life was different from the suburbs and her school life. The situation was horrible because students went to the basements with underqualified teachers. Second, the level of violence and poverty in Southside, which was different as compared to the suburbs in Chicago. Many incidences occurred every day. Mitchell reveals that when Barack Obama elected as president, some people were furious and uncontrollable after the election. During his time, the Republicans voted out any bill that Obama tried to pass.

The third is the theme of family and parenting. Mitchell Obama was a wife, a mother of two, a working profession, and the First Lady. She was able to balance all those, which is challenging for many people. She describes the most important relationships in her life from her parents, her brother, Barack Obama, and her children. Mitchell continues to discuss the fourth theme being the importance of family in times of need. People should learn from Mitchell the significance of having a family by your side. People take family members for granted and require them in times of need. In every move that Mitchell did, she was routinized, even her dressing ridiculed. Her behaviour was also ridiculed to add to even what her daughters said it was very demotivating to them.

Lessons Learned

There are various life lessons learned from Mitchell Obama's book Becoming. To begin with, it is wise to choose the person to spend the rest of the life keenly. For Barack Obama, he doesn't play games, which is a crucial aspect of a man. She says love does not have to be painful, and it does not form someone, so people should choose developed people for love and do not fix the brokenness. Next is that care should be taken to maintain a sense of dignity in a relationship. Barack knew he had to use his talents and ability to help other people, for he was self-aware and much focused. With this kind of person, Mitchell had to know herself, what she cared about, what kind of mother she wanted to be, and how she tried to direct her life. When she realized all this, she did a lot of work on herself and achieved what she did. Lesson three is never to accept a relationship to be accessible all the time.

Every relationship has its challenges. When talking to young people starting to get married, she says, "there would be huge chunks of times where you want to push him through the window," (Jochnowitz, 2018, p.29). People admire the life that Mitchell and Obama have, not considering that they both have their challenges but come up with ideas to solve their issues. The fourth one is that one ought to make a career pivot if not happy. When Mitchell met Obama, she realized that she has to walk away from Law after investigating the amount of time and resources to get a Harvard law degree, she was in debt. The fifth theme is never to let fear intimidate the achievements set.

Learning how to overcome fear and work through it is one of the keys to growth and success. She was stuck in one place when growing up; because people in her neighbourhood feared going outside; because of the police and fear of leaving what one knew. The sixth theme is to, never assume those in power know it all. Mitchell has been in big tables served in the UN and cooperates boards. She says that those in power are not smart, for many of them do terrible things to remain in force; for instance, make one feel not good enough, which pushes other people away. Seventh, people ought to learn how to like themselves, although it is a process, one may not like themselves, for they have not explored enough. "You have to eliminate the people who do not add value in your life" (Jochnowitz 2018, p.56). She quoted this to help people to focus on their own lives. Eighth is to use style that best suits. People should wear clothes they are comfortable with, and that best fits them. Mitchell is on the public eye; her image scrutinized repeatedly, and it made her feel very low. Finally is to stay hopeful even in the current political climate. "Change is not a straight line" (Jochnowitz, 2018, p.92). Going backwards does not mean that the progress made was not real; it says it was hard. When people remain positive and work forward, they will achieve the unachievable.

Becoming a Memoir is divided into three parts; "becoming me," "becoming us," and "becoming more" (Jochnowitz, 2018, p.64). The book goes over her early life to her becoming the First Lady to the present day. According to an interview she did of why she chose the title when selecting the title of the book, Mitchell had a list to choose. She hated a question parents ask their children," What would you want to become when you grow older?" this bothered her a lot. Mitchelle chose the title "Becoming," for her journey is continuously evolving. There is never a point that one will arrive at a destination, and if he or she does, it would be unfortunate. Nobody knows what the next step will be. Children, when they grow up, they become many different things. The title is about her story of becoming that is rising from her childhood to the woman she is today.

"If there's one thing I've learned in life, it's the power of using your voice. I tried my best to speak the truth and shed light on the stories of people brushed aside" (Jochnowitz, 2018, p.321). Mitchell teaches on the power of lack of fear, according to this quote. Believing in what other people say other than the facts is wrong-saying what one considers no matter if it is accurate or false is very important. Some people are respected for what they believe and say out loud, no matter how vague it may sound. Although Mitchell tried to speak when she was the first lady and was called an angry black woman that did not stop her, she strived onwards and achieved more fabulous things. It can be seen in her quote on asking herself if she was kind enough and believed in herself.

When people believe that they are good enough, there is nothing in the world that they cannot achieve. Many go through challenges in life, but that does not stop them from moving forward. She named her book "Becoming," for she believed in moving forward and never believed in reaching a specific destination, which is sad for people who can become many things in life. Mitchell also quoted that now that she is an adult, she realized that kids now at a very young age are devalued; it is when adults are not helping them to learn is not their fault, and they are not bad kids hence trying to strive for bad situations. Mitchell has been lucky enough to meet extraordinary and accomplished people. Some being black other white. What can be learned from this is that all have doubters.


What was important to note after the review is about the title "Becoming." The title is motivating, for it speaks about moving forward, becoming what one wants, and never backing down no matter what. Another inspiring thing is the lessons learned. There are various lessons listed above that can help many people improve their lives if they follow them and put them into action. The quotes by Mitchell are critical, too, for people can learn many things from adhering to them. Finally, the different themes are motivating to individuals. For instance, the idea of family relationships. It is an essential element for it is hard for people to live alone without family. Adhering to the lessons learned can improve the lives of so many people.


Jochnowitz, L. D. (2018). Concept Paper, Becoming. Michelle Obama (2018). Michelle Obama.

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