Summary and Guidelines from the Book:
The book's 24 chapters are divided into three sections, arranges according to chronological order from young to grown up. Michelle Obama leads a life the same as ordinary women lives. We develop our personality and value in young ages according to the environment that we live in. Bringing with our life goals or egos, we build our own career. When it is right time, we step into marriage, then struggle on choosing family or career as priority. The main difference between lives might fall into the later years, after giving birth, when continuing to fulfill dreams. Michelle has an extraordinary life, partially because of the platform her husband gave, but also the gene she builds herself to keep learning, adjusting, fighting, and winning.
Section one: Becoming Me.
This section contains childhood stories that developed Michelle’s personality and life ego. It traces Obama's early life growing up on the South Side of Chicago, through her education at Princeton University and Harvard Law School, to her early career as a lawyer at the law firm Sidley Austin, where she met Barack Obama.
Chapter 1: Learning piano from great-aunt. Her family rented in a crowded apartment with great-aunt living downstairs, that she can get approach to private piano class from great-aunt when she was available. Michelle worked harder than any other kids in order to win over and proved to her strict great-aunt.
Chapter2: Discrimination from school and living area. Because of the black skin, Michelle was put into a class of “bad kids”, being isolated by the neighbor kids, and even her dad’s car was scratched by someone in the white area. But her mother was always quiet in appearance by saying “just go and do your best”, but forthright when it got chance, which gave Michelle strength to fight and earn other’s respect.
Chapter 3: Family affairs about getting prepared for the worst cases. Being dangerous to live in the black society, Michelle and her brother led an escape-route ran through in case of the house fire, claiming that “in life you control what you can”. This particular story is a snapshot of the discrimination that altered the destinies of generations of African Americans, which limiting their income, opportunities and aspirations. The unfair and cruel environment for Michelle and her family pushed them into a position of giving their voice and helping their peers.
Chapter 4: The selfless motherhood/wifehood. Michelle’s mother maintained a brilliant parental mind-set and scarified a lot for the family, that providing the best living and education for her children without asking for return. She said “I’m raising adults, not babies” to push kids out into the world; by saying “Handle it how you think best” to offer guidelines rather than rules. The selfless motherhood paves the way of Michelle’s future sacrificing position in family.
Chapter 5: Hard working high school life. Michelle put in extra hours of studying in every occasion including the morning bus gap for getting the most out of her parents’ investment. When it comes to expensive foreign class trip, Michelle chose not telling but got serious support when her parents found out. With the great prospective that gained in life and effort she put in study, Michelle got the offer that proved herself a “Princeton material” to the college counselor.
Chapter 6: Independent college life. Young Michelle show her ambitious by broken up with her Chicago boyfriend before beginning a new high school life in New Jersey. The life in Princeton was quite new to her as it was safe, peace, and around with trust, although most of the students were white and male. The only thing she needed to be vigilant about was studies. She was learning all the time from classes and from people, learning how to write efficiently, think critically, and behave properly among society.
Chapter 7: Out to learn and back to work in Chicago. Michelle went out form home to keep achieving until she could answer the question “Am I good enough?”. She assessed goals, analyzed outcomes, counted wins, that converting all the love from home into a better version of herself answering “Yes”.
Chapter 8: The first met with Barack Obama. When Michelle was working as junior associate, Barack was a summer associate guiding by her. He checked in with a high reputation in the firm for his apparent brilliance and cute. After struggling about having relationship at work, they confirmed it with a kiss.
Section two: Becoming Us.
This section records many milestones of Michelle’s’ life that challenged her idealism of one being. It departs from the beginning of their romantic relationship and follows their marriage, the beginning of his political career in the Illinois State Senate.
Chapter 9: The run-in period with Barack. Barack’s working habits had influenced Michelle’s attitude in life. They choose to be in distance relationship for Barack’s humility and willingness to sacrifice own needs and wants for a bigger purpose. The cancer of her Princeton roommate brought up the first challenge of Michelle’s “controlling your life” notion, that she found taking adventure in life is not that unacceptable.
Chapter 10: Finding the meaning of marriage. Barack and Michelle were looking for the suitable partnership but stayed in the bottleneck. One is trying to keep the independent dreams but the other is choosing family goes first.
Chapter 11: The death of her father. Losing her father remainder her about life is short and not to be wasted. “There was no time to sit around and ponder how my life should go”, with this thought Michelle changed her situation by getting engaged and settled down with a job in the city hall.
Chapter 12: Got married. They were learning to adapt, for circumstance of working separately after getting married. But anyway they were happy in those limited days they could spend together.
Chapter 13: New jobs and giving birth. With the support and influence of Barack, Michelle took a new job in Public Allies, which made her felt meaningful that can impact lives. This might be the implication of future politic life for her. Then she got pregnant after times of miscarriage, which led her back into “family goes first” theory.
Chapter 14: Family goes first. There is no doubt that Michelle would take family as priority thus she switched into a part-time job for daughter Malia. However, when it comes to serious cases such as the high fever of Malia in a trip, Barack chose to stay with family although he was in the risk of failing the vote he run. Nevertheless, Barack still had to be absent most of the time although the second girl was born. With the help of couples counseling, the family backed to balance of companionship.
Chapter 15: The decision of running for president or not. The president campaigns of Barack mean Michelle had to sacrifice her career and the stable living for the whole family. The choice was cruel, but it was her destiny to support him settled from their married, and she was experienced in stepping back.
Chapter 16: The extraordinary campaign life. The whole family switched into high efficient workaholic mode, and Michelle was learning to be “known” by people.
Chapter 17: Getting through difficulties in the campaign. The campaign put the family into public life, both of the couple and girls were being watched when getting exposed. However, some of the public words were not friendly, even aggressive, to attack Michelle as a target. As in her life seeking approval, the respond of the campaign seemed unfair to her. “I was female, black, and strong, which to certain people, maintaining a certain mind-set, translated only to “angry”. The hardest part for Michelle was not only being judged, but also the thought that she couldn’t offer help but harm. Even so, she didn’t give up. Partially because of the ambitious personality she gain in young age or the discrimination she fight against through years, partially because of the love to her husband and girls. It turned out that Michelle successfully had a positive impact, by sharpening the presentation, fashioning her out-fit, training to provide “more lightness, more fluff” instead of “too serious, too severe”. She proved to herself that she was good enough again.
Chapter 18: Won the president position. The section ends with election night in 2008 when Barack Obama was elected President of the United.
Section three: Becoming More.
This section describes how Michelle played the roll “the first lady” that making contribution to the country and becoming a better version of herself.
Chapter 19: Learning to be the first lady. As the first African American family, “You’ve got to be twice as good to get half as far”. Not only president Obama but also Michelle needed to be better, faster, smarter, and stronger as they were being viewed as representatives of their race. There was no job description for how to be the first lady, so Michelle had to make her own agenda that can create value for the country.
Chapter 20: Life in the White House. The white house was like a “fancy hotel” that provided high quality of everything, including the servant. But the family kept “extra-vigilant” with higher standard than dictated by law, such as paying for everything, being polite and gracious and not asking for anything more than needed. One of Michelle’s projects was creating the “White House Victory Garden”, delivering cares about children and their health. And also, believing “all we could do then was put our faith into the effort, trusting that with sun and rain and time, something half-decent would push up through the dirt”.
Chapter 21: Adjusting the family life and changing the world. Normal life became luxury because outdoor activities could cause hassle to the public and troubles to the scheduling/Secret Service teams. Besides, Michelle’s image, position, projects should be paid attention carefully. Unlike Hillary, that “had kept her job as a law partner while also helping with her husband’s efforts to improve health care and education, Michelle devoted all her time on health, children, and female.
Chapter 22: The fear for the whole family. The news of earthquake, gunfire, which exposed to the family, raised the fear among them. As a president, Obama had been blamed for things he couldn’t control, “Force seen and unseen stand ready to tear into whatever calm you might feel”. There was too much killing especially among innocent African American children. The students in that society hated sunny day because “When the weather was nice, the gangs got more active and the shooting got worse”. It was even more fear to Michelle as she has too girls to protect, and the responsibility for all kids lied with her and her husband.
Chapter 23: Reelection. “Each day was packed. The velocity was too great, the time for reflection was too limited.” Even so, “the progress and change happen slowly”, that mean four years president ship was not enough to make improvement. The family had to campaign again for the reelection. All these years, Michelle had learned to use soft power, by making stories or public speeches to attract everyone to keep an eye on issues related to “young people, minorities, and women”, where turn out to be the main votes to win from.
Chapter 24: Results. With the projects of” White House Victory Garden”, “Let’s Move!”, “Let Girls Learn”, and much more related to children, young people, female, military spouses, food health, education, etc., Michelle did a lot to the country. But for her, “Becoming isn't about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self.” She successfully became a better version of herself, from ordinary to extraordinary.