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Becoming Summary


Here you will find a Becoming summary (Michelle Obama's book).
We begin with a summary of the entire book, and then you can read each individual chapter's summary by visiting the links on the "Chapters" section.

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Last Updated: Monday 1 Jan, 2024

Becoming Summary Overview

Born and raised in South Side, Chicago, a young Michelle Obama's early life is profoundly shaped by her parents Fraser and Marian Robinson's belief in education and their resilience in the face of adversity. Michelle's academic journey takes her from a local magnet school, where she befriends the daughter of civil rights leader Jesse Jackson, to Princeton and Harvard for her higher studies. Eventually, her career takes her to a prestigious law firm in Chicago, where she meets a charismatic man named Barack Obama, who she is tasked with mentoring. As their relationship blossoms, Michelle realises her distaste for her career in law and transitions to a role working for long-time friend and ally, Valerie Jarrett, at city hall. With Michelle's support, Barack Obama pursues a career in politics, being elected to the Illinois state senate. Despite her own reservations about politics, Michelle stands by Barack, even as they face personal tribulations including the loss of loved ones and Michelle's own struggle with miscarriages and fertility issues. They eventually turn to in vitro fertilization, leading to the birth of their daughters Malia and Sasha. Despite familial and career pressures, the couple remain strong, aided by couples therapy and their shared dedication to public service. When the opportunity arises for Barack to run for presidency, Michelle, despite her initial skepticism, agrees to be part of the campaign journey. She becomes a valuable asset on the campaign trail, even amidst baseless rumors and intense media scrutiny. Following a decisive win and a smooth transition into the White House, Michelle takes on the role of First Lady with grace and dedication. She spearheads several initiatives focusing on issues like childhood obesity, education, and support for military families. Despite the political ups and downs, including a shocking defeat in the 2016 presidential race, Michelle remains hopeful about the future, drawing comfort from the positive changes she and Barack have contributed during their time in the White House.

chapter 1

Michelle Obama's journey starts in a petite rented apartment in South Shore, Chicago, at the end of the 1960s. Her family resides with her mother Marian's relatives, aunt Robbie and uncle Terry. Terry, a quiet, always smartly dressed, ex-railway porter, stays downstairs. Robbie, stern and demanding, gives piano lessons at home. Craig, Michelle’s elder brother, is her first student and Michelle herself follows suit when she is around four. Their household adores music, particularly the relatives on her mother's side, including her grandfather Shields, nicknamed “Southside” after he relocated near them. He is fond of playing music on his sophisticated stereo and will later gift Michelle her first album, Stevie Wonder’s Talking Book. Robbie's piano has a unique feature - a damaged middle C key - which assists Michelle in navigating the instrument. Her dedication pays off as she quickly improves. However, her insistence on tackling complex songs leads to disagreements with Robbie, much to her parents' amusement. A turning point comes when Michelle participates in Robbie's yearly student recital. The family makes it to the event in downtown Chicago in their father’s cherished Buick Electra, parked as near to the entrance as feasible due to Fraser's multiple sclerosis hindered mobility. On stage, Michelle initially struggles to locate middle C on the flawless baby grand piano, but with Robbie’s discreet guidance, she begins her performance.

chapter 2

Michelle embarks on her education journey, fueled by a hunger for achievement. She finds her second-grade class too chaotic, leading her mother to intercede and arrange for her and other high-performing students to be transferred to a more controlled third-grade class. In contrast, her brother Craig shines in social settings and sports, particularly basketball. Michelle, on the other hand, is more introverted and enjoys her time at home. Nonetheless, she proves her grit by standing up to a bully at the age of ten. During the 1970s, the South Shore sees a significant outflow of white and affluent Black families. Despite this, Michelle's family remains rooted here. Her father, despite not completing his community college education, holds a secure job at a water filtration plant, enabling them to afford a few comforts. Every year, they would take a holiday with an aunt and two cousins, where Michelle's father could momentarily forget his physical limitations and enjoy tossing the kids around in the pool, reminiscent of the athletic man he once was. An event occurs when the Robinsons visit some family friends who relocate to the suburbs. Craig seamlessly blends into the new social environment through basketball, but Michelle and her parents find the surroundings dull. The friends can easily camouflage into the predominantly white neighborhood due to their lighter skin color, however, the Robinsons' car is vandalized before they return home, leaving a gash on the side of their Buick.

chapter 3

Still haunted by a tragic neighborhood fire which killed three children, Fraser Robinson teaches his son Craig emergency drills. Despite his illness, Fraser believes in his own usefulness. He is a Democratic party precinct captain, a role which often requires him to tour the neighborhood with a reluctant Michelle, making her more sociable. Southside, Michelle's grandfather, also contributes to her growth by organizing vibrant family get-togethers. He gets Michelle a dog that stays with him but officially belongs to her. Michelle's other grandfather, Dandy, is rather intimidating, known for his frequent outbursts towards the TV, neighbourhood youth, and his wife, LaVaughn. Michelle is the only family member who dares to counter Dandy. It disturbs her that LaVaughn, who manages a successful bookstore during the day, endures Dandy's shouting at night. Dandy's anger is partly due to resentment from unrealized college ambitions and career setbacks during a period when Black men were commonly discriminated against in labor unions. During a family visit, a cousin asks Michelle why she speaks "like a white girl." Both her parents and Dandy have always encouraged her to communicate using correct English and clear pronunciation. Now her manner of speaking raises doubts among others. In the future, her husband, when he becomes president, will also face similar scrutiny.

chapter 4

Michelle's neighborhood declines as wealthier families relocate, impacting the quality of education at her school. Her mother, Marian Robinson, strives to counteract this through the PTA, fundraising for supplies and supporting the principal's initiative for a combined-grade program for gifted pupils. Michelle thrives when she joins this program. At home, Marian manages to celebrate Christmas economically and allows her son Craig to navigate his own relationships. Despite contemplating leaving her husband Fraser each spring, Marian always decides to stay, remaining in the same house for four decades, even after Fraser's death. At the age of fourteen, Michelle starts navigating adolescence. She spends less time with her neighborhood friends and more with two sisters who are her closest companions. They experiment with fashion, discuss boys, and learn about drawing boys' attention. With the help of another friend, Michelle experiences her first kiss. She also discovers that her physical appearance can lead to unsolicited attention from men. To accommodate their growing children, her parents remodel the upstairs porch and reassign rooms, allowing Michelle and Craig their own spaces. Bit by bit, Michelle is developing her individuality.

chapter 5

Craig is studying at a majority-white Catholic school renowned for its robust basketball program and challenging academic content. This is due to his parents' insistence, and his mother, Marian, has returned to her job as an executive assistant to manage the school expenses. Concurrently, Michelle secures a place at Whitney Young High School, a newly established magnet school. A 90-minute bus ride away, the school mainly accommodates Black and Hispanic students. At Whitney Young, Michelle and her South Shore classmates discover that intelligence is celebrated, not ridiculed. While she is not the most academically gifted, Michelle learns that she can match her classmates' success through dedication. Michelle's peers hail from affluent backgrounds, with experiences like foreign travel under their belts. However, Michelle, who has none of these experiences, chooses not to share with her parents about a proposed trip to Paris by her French class. So, when her parents learn about this from another parent, they insist she participates. During this period, she develops a close bond with Santita Jackson, the daughter of Reverend Jesse Jackson, a prominent civil rights leader. While interacting with Santita and occasionally participating in Rev. Jackson's public engagements, Michelle comes to understand that political life is chaotic and unpredictable, a far cry from her preference for order and predictability. By her senior year, Craig is already making waves in the basketball scene at Princeton, much to their father's pleasure. Inspired by her brother's example, Michelle also aspires to attend Princeton. Even when a school counselor doubts her suitability to the Ivy League school, Michelle is admitted, largely due to a reference from an assistant principal whose children she had once watched over.

chapter 6

In late summer of 1981, Michelle lands at Princeton, accompanied by her father and her summer job coworker-turned-boyfriend, David. However, as she navigates the relationship, she realizes David isn't the right one for her. With no time for a proper farewell, she breaks things off before he leaves town with her father. Princeton life initially confuses Michelle, particularly questions like, “You row crew?” Being the younger sibling of Craig, though, occasionally provides certain benefits. She encounters racism on different occasions, but the gravest incident is when her white roommate moves out midway through her first year. It's only years later Michelle finds out that the roommate's mom didn't want her daughter sharing a room with a Black girl. The Third World Center (TWC) becomes a social haven for coloured students. There, Michelle befriends and later rooms with Suzanne, a free-spirited Jamaican girl. Suzanne's laid-back lifestyle helps Michelle acknowledge that not everyone shares her penchant for tidiness and order. The lesson later comes handy in her marriage to a man with a similar carefree attitude about organizing his stuff. Michelle also works as an assistant to the TWC director, a Black single mom from New York, and often babysits the director’s child. Encouraged by her boss, she starts an after-school program for the kids of Black Princeton staff members. While maintaining regular phone contact with her family, she learns about her aging relatives but her father never discusses his declining health. The harsh reality strikes when her parents come to Princeton to attend Craig's home game, and she sees her father using a wheelchair.

chapter 7

Michelle gradually feels at home at Princeton, but never forgets her "South Side" roots in Chicago. She finds a link to her deeper past in Aunt Sis, Dandy's sister, who resides in Princeton and whose South Carolina upbringing connects Michelle to her ancestors who were once enslaved. Fate intervenes when Robbie passes away, making Michelle's parents, inheriting the bungalow, homeowners for the first time. Shortly after, Grandfather Southside succumbs to lung cancer. Meanwhile, Michelle's boyfriend is a med school aspirant from Craig's class who takes a detour to audition as a mascot for the Cleveland Browns, a move that perplexes her. She, a diligent planner and achiever, is already focused on law school. Eventually, she graduates with a sociology degree, acquires her law degree from Harvard, and secures a position at a prestigious Chicago firm. However, she soon realizes that she's been chasing success in a field she doesn't love. Her life is about to pivot though; she's been asked to mentor a male summer associate, a Black law student from Harvard with a unique name.

chapter 8

Michelle is engaged in marketing and intellectual property law, earning a good salary. She stays with her parents in their ancestral home, occupying the top floor and paying a nominal rent. South Shore is still untouched by the crack issue affecting African American neighborhoods in New York and Detroit. Barack Obama, a summer associate, reports late for his first day but excuses himself. He's tall, slim, yet attractive, with a wide smile and a deep voice. He's typically laid-back and not a fan of chit-chat. His intelligence becomes evident when he pens a thirty-page memo that becomes a hit at the firm. However, he has one vice: smoking, a habit Michelle's parents gave up late in life. Barack's path has been less straight-forward than Michelle's, hence at three years older, he's still in law school. Of Black Kenyan and white Kansan parentage, he was raised in Honolulu, lived in Indonesia, started college in Los Angeles before moving to Columbia. Afterward, he spent three years in Chicago working as a community organizer. Now in law school, he believes societal change necessitates government-level alterations. Michelle and Barack share an immediate connection. At a company barbecue, Barack's basketball skills impress her. Later, when he proposes a stop for ice cream and a kiss, she happily obliges.

chapter 9

Michelle's bond with Barack intensifies rapidly. She begins spending nights at his summer residence, the noises of the bustling street below being more of a nuisance to her than him. One evening, he reprises his role as a community organizer to help a friend, inspiring Michelle with his passionate plea to a small church congregation to aspire for a better world rather than accepting the status quo. Michelle introduces Barack to her parents, who jokingly doubt the longevity of the relationship due to Michelle's career-focused nature. Despite their teasing, Barack, headed back to Harvard, expresses his affection for Michelle and proposes they correspond via mail. Michelle, hailing from a family of conversationalists, persuades him to become more phone-inclined. During a holiday trip to Honolulu, Michelle becomes acquainted with Barack's supportive, middle-class family and observes him unwind with old friends, unburdened by global concerns. In her capacity as a recruiter at her law firm, Michelle advocates for a more inclusive applicant pool, considering more than just Ivy League graduates, and promotes a comprehensive selection process that values more than just academic achievements. Trips to Harvard for recruitment are an opportunity to spend time with Barack. Michelle shares her admiration for Barack with Suzanne, an old friend from Princeton, who shocks Michelle by quitting her job to travel the world with her mother, a decision Michelle finds dubious. After their travels, Suzanne calls Michelle to inform her of her terminal cancer diagnosis. Michelle, along with a few mutual friends, remains by Suzanne's side until her passing.

chapter 10

Barack relocates to Chicago to stay with Michelle in her parents' upstairs apartment during his last summer associateship at a different legal firm. He impresses Craig with his skills in basketball, demonstrating a well-rounded persona. Despite being the first Black president of the Harvard Law Review, he contemplates a modest-paying career in civil rights law, rejecting the lucrative prospects of corporate law. Michelle struggles with her career as a lawyer and is in a relationship with an ambitious, intellectual man who she fears might overshadow her. She starts a journal to ponder over alternative career paths. Her mother, far from empathizing, finds Michelle's situation amusing. The concept of marriage is a point of discord between Barack and Michelle. Whereas Michelle sees marriage as a fusion of lives, akin to her parents' relationship, Barack views it as two individuals following their independent aspirations in parallel. He takes after his independent, twice-divorced mother. Fraser Robinson's health rapidly worsens. His neck and feet swell, impacting his mobility, speech, and respiration. Despite his condition, he continues working and avoids medical treatment until he is finally hospitalized. After several tests, he's diagnosed with a severe endocrine disorder, a terminal condition. Hours before his demise, he shares poignant, unsaid sentiments with Michelle.

chapter 11

Michelle's sorrow over her father's death sparks a disagreement with Craig regarding their father's burial arrangements. Eventually, Michelle identifies a lesson from the grief: the shortness of life prompts her to look into alternate career paths. Her mother's brief employment with Art Sussman, a University of Chicago attorney, helps her connect with Susan Sher and subsequently, Valerie Jarrett. Jarrett, with her insight into Chicago's politics and belief that she can make a difference even under a white-dominated political system, leaves a strong impression on both Michelle and Barack. Barack is elated after his bar exam, and despite Michelle only passing on her second try, both are hopeful that Barack passed on his first attempt. During a celebratory dinner, Barack voices his love for Michelle but reiterates his anti-marriage stance, which irritates Michelle. However, a surprise proposal, hidden under the dessert tray, catches her off guard and she joyfully accepts. Soon, they make a trip to Kenya for Michelle to meet Barack's Granny Sarah. Although feeling oddly displaced as an African American in Africa, Granny Sarah's warm welcome makes Michelle feel cherished and at home.

chapter 12

Throughout the subsequent year, Michelle finds employment under Valerie Jarrett, in a citywide role for the mayor's office. The competence and grace with which Valerie and Susan Sher balance their professions and single motherhood inspire Michelle. Concurrently, Barack is engaged in voter registration work in Chicago, for a nationwide body known as Project VOTE! During their nuptials in October 1992, Michelle's old school pal Santita Jackson, a professional vocalist, sings Stevie Wonder's “You and I”. Post their Californian honeymoon, they are greeted with a mix of fortunes. On the bright side, Barack's voter registration efforts contributed to Bill Clinton becoming president and Carol Moseley Braun securing her Senate seat, making her the first Black woman senator. The African American vote in Chicago proved influential. Conversely, Barack's book project, which he had neglected, sees its contract canceled by the publishers, who demand the return of the advance. Barack decides to retreat to a remote cabin in Bali, 9000 miles away, for a couple of months to complete his book and find another publisher. With Barack away, Michelle ponders whether she can attain both a thriving career and a stable home life, akin to her mother. The answer remains unknown, even when Barack comes back with almost a complete first draft and a contract with a different publisher. Michelle parts with city hall and intends to seek employment in the nonprofit realm. They become condo owners in Hyde Park.

chapter 13

Michelle takes on the role of founding director for a new initiative, Public Allies. This project provides promising youth with apprenticeships in nonprofits. After three successful years and significant financial backing gathered by Michelle and Barack from various sources in Chicago, the institution becomes financially stable. Subsequently, Michelle transitions to the University of Chicago, taking a better paying position as an associate dean, primarily focusing on community relations. Barack, meanwhile, serves at a public interest law firm handling voting-rights and employment discrimination cases, while also teaching at the University of Chicago Law School. He completes his book, Dreams of My Father, in an area he and Michelle label “the Hole.” Prompted by a scandal involving a current member of the Chicago statehouse, Barack decides to run for the Illinois state senate. While Michelle has reservations about the political arena, she doesn't object. Upon his win, he finds the role suits him despite the anticipated challenges. However, this period also brings sorrow to the couple. Barack's mother succumbs to cancer before he can reach Honolulu to bid farewell. Michelle suffers a miscarriage, leading them to opt for in vitro fertilization (IVF) after unsuccessful pregnancy attempts. Their first daughter, Malia, is born on Independence Day.

chapter 14

Michelle goes back to work part-time, though with her caring responsibilities and a competent nanny, she still feels stretched thin. Despite being reelected as a state senator, Barack decides to run against a Democratic congressman. Their holiday in Hawaii, where they visit Barack's grandma "Toot," is interrupted by an urgent call for a vote on a crucial crime bill in Springfield, Illinois. When their daughter Malia falls ill, making it impossible for the family to return for the vote, Barack's opposition criticizes him, resulting in a loss of support from donors and endorsements, and a defeat in the spring primary. After a single IVF attempt, the Obamas welcome their second daughter, Sasha. The exit of their trusted nanny prompts Michelle to rethink her job situation. She ends up becoming the director of community outreach at the University of Chicago Medical Center, a position that offers her more flexibility. This also enables her to afford more domestic help. At this point, George W. Bush is president, and the nation has witnessed the 9/11 attacks. Barack contemplates a Senate run, which irks Michelle due to his constant absences and late arrivals. They seek guidance from a couples therapist, leading to some lifestyle changes. Michelle adopts a morning workout routine with a friend and establishes a set dinner and bedtime routine, regardless of whether Barack is home.

chapter 15

Michelle, a mother to two girls, finds ways to manage her time efficiently. She develops a successful hospital program that enhances volunteering and community engagement, benefitting the underprivileged and chronically ill. She understands that Barack's aspirations often require him to be away from home. When he initiates his campaign for the 2004 U.S. Senate, she hopes that if he fails, he'll pursue another path. Contrarily, Barack is on track to win, gaining fame from his powerful speech at the Democratic Convention. Ultimately, he secures a tremendous victory in the Senate race, which coincides with the re-election of Republican President George W. Bush. Instead of relocating to Washington after Barack becomes a senator, Michelle opts to stay in Chicago with their daughters, dismissing advice from another senator's wife about maintaining family cohesion. She finds Washington pompous and the orientation for new Senate spouses pointless. She is eager to continue her upward trajectory at the hospital. She is bothered by Barack's discussions about a potential 2008 presidential run, a sentiment shared by their six-year-old daughter, Malia. However, considering the less privileged, such as those displaced by hurricane Katrina, and the potential Barack has to improve their lives, she consents to his campaign and prepares herself for the expected responsibilities. Nonetheless, she silently acknowledges the racial obstacles he may face as a Black man.

chapter 16

David Plouffe is appointed as Barack's campaign manager, and David Axelrod is responsible for media and messaging. Despite the freezing weather, the campaign kick-off in Springfield goes smoothly. The first key battle is the Iowa Caucus, where the media coverage sometimes gets personal and negative. Barack is often linked to his previous Chicago pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright's controversial sermons, hinting at his so-called "radical roots". There are also suggestions that Michelle's hospital job is a result of Barack's political influence. Furthermore, internet rumors are spread about Barack's possible Muslim allegiance and past friendships with a terrorist. With the support of aide Melissa Winter and communications director Katie Lelyveld, Michelle begins connecting with voters through home visits and county fair appearances. Contrary to expectations, she realizes she shares many commonalities with Iowans. Her ability to connect with undecided voters, without any scripted speech, earns her the campaign nickname "the Closer". She becomes comfortable with the constant presence of Secret Service agents and even learns to choose spill-proof finger foods. Concerned about the family's poor eating habits, she employs young chef Sam Kass to provide healthier meals, and he quickly becomes a close family friend. At the Iowa Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson dinner, a key event before the caucus, all candidates attempt to display their abilities and support. Barack, despite initially polling significantly behind Hillary Clinton and competing with John Edwards for second place, delivers a powerful speech that elevates his status. His subsequent victory in the caucus leads Michelle to believe that he may indeed have a chance at the presidency.

chapter 17

Michelle once compared a surprise punch from a childhood bully to the shock she felt when an edited clip of her speech was circulated. The shortened version, reading “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country,” seemed to imply she had a longstanding resentment towards America. The narrative was fueled by other reports, including Rev. Wright's sermons displaying bias against whites and the interpretation of Michelle’s Princeton thesis by some as indicative of similar sentiments. This caused Michelle to feel frustrated, noting the stereotype of the “angry Black woman” can entrap women who have justified reasons to express their emotions. Campaign advisors David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett suggested that Michelle, as a female public figure, must strive to avoid appearing angry. After receiving additional staff and resources, Michelle made a successful appearance on The View. After Hillary Clinton accepts defeat, Barack is free to secure the Democratic nomination. At the August convention, Michelle delivers a powerful speech, introduced by her brother Craig and watched by her mother in the audience, which she believes may alter some people's views about her. Despite adjusting to public attention, a Fourth of July event in Butte, Montana, reminded Michelle of the importance of personal perspective. On a very busy day, the Obamas participated in an interview that put the girls in an uncomfortable spotlight. A hastily arranged birthday party for Malia seemed unsatisfactory to the adults but was considered the “best birthday ever” by the birthday girl herself.

chapter 18

The overall election proves less taxing than the primaries, particularly after the unprepared Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is selected as Republican John McCain's companion, turning into somewhat of a laughingstock. However, the escalating financial crisis causing the economy to sink increases the campaign's intensity. Michelle is more convinced than ever that Barack is the perfect candidate for these times. Toot, Barack's grandmother, succumbs to cancer right before the election, just ten days after Barack's final visit and two days prior to the voting day. On the day of the election, Michelle and Barack bring their daughters to the polling station before they go to school. After a lighthearted exchange where Barack teases Michelle about her hesitation while voting, he and Craig depart for a basketball game to alleviate stress. The polls indicate Barack is in the lead, but the potential for the Bradley effect, a phenomenon where voters conceal their bias from pollsters but exhibit it at the voting booth, keeps Michelle anxious. As the results emerge, it becomes apparent that Barack and his running mate, Joe Biden, have emerged victorious. Following Barack’s triumphant speech at Chicago's waterside Grant Park, the late-night atmosphere strikes Michelle as serene and thoughtful, as though this moment has been long anticipated.

chapter 19

Being mindful of their status as the first Black president and First Lady, the Obamas pay extreme attention to their image during the transitional period. For instance, Barack demands that they cover their White House relocation expenses themselves rather than using federal funds. Michelle feels welcomed by First Lady Laura Bush as President Bush ensures a smooth handover of power. During preparations for the inauguration and White House setup, Michelle delegates tasks and employs assistance as necessary. The presence of the vice president's family is comforting for Michelle, as she has built a close relationship with Jill Biden and their grandchildren have become friends with Malia and Sasha. Michelle is ready to support military families in need, knowing Jill will be a valuable partner, as their son Beau is also serving in Iraq. The Secret Service's constant protection profoundly alters the Obamas' lifestyle. The president is always escorted by a twenty-car motorcade, and agents accompany the Obama daughters to school. In contrast, Michelle's mother, who moves to Washington for her granddaughters, lives a relatively normal life, refusing Secret Service protection and moving in and out of the White House freely. On Inauguration Day, following the oath-taking ceremony and a lengthy parade in freezing weather, Michelle and Barack attend ten different inaugural parties. By the end of the night, Michelle is drained and escapes upstairs when Barack reassures her, saying, “It’s okay,” leaving a private party at the White House in full swing.

chapter 20

The aim of the White House crew is to simplify the president's life. Barack has assistants for every task, from preparing briefs to polishing shoes. With his office just a stone's throw away, he's more punctual for family meals. While living in the executive mansion is free, the First Family must cover their own food and consumable expenses. The staff are courteous and professionally subtle. Michelle's mom is a popular guest amongst many staff members in her upstairs living area. The Obamas strive to make their daughters comfortable but also mindful of treating everyone with respect. Organizing playdates involves intricate planning, though the visiting friends soon overlook their unique surroundings. There are some hurdles, though. Michelle perceives unnecessary opposition from the Republicans during Barack's inaugural congressional address. On an ensuing state visit to the UK, Michelle inadvertently stirs up controversy by embracing the Queen—who doesn't seem to mind. The following day, at a London school predominantly attended by working-class, dark-skinned girls, Michelle gets overwhelmed with emotions and hugs as many girls as she can. As First Lady, Michelle commits to advocating for healthy eating. Sam Kass, now a White House staff member, secures a spot on the South Lawn to cultivate herbs and vegetables. Gardening alongside local students brings Michelle a sense of tranquility. After sowing the seeds, Michelle and Sam patiently hope for a fruitful outcome.

chapter 21

A relaxing dinner and show in New York for Michelle and Barack turns self-conscious as they disrupt surroundings and face public backlash due to taxpayer cost. Michelle grapples with the constant need for security, even on her balcony, and insists on flexibility for their daughters' social lives. Regarding her wardrobe, an assistant ensures Michelle promotes American designers by blending high-end and affordable pieces. A beautician and make-up artist help Michelle meet public expectations, while Barack readies himself with just a suit, no grooming necessary. Every decision Michelle makes involves political impact. She navigates planning a Halloween party amidst an economic downturn, and receives advice from Hillary Clinton on exceeding First Lady norms. In determining her advocacy focus, Michelle strives for a balance between familial and political roles. She chooses to combat childhood obesity, a rising public health concern, and after gaining business and advocacy group backing, launches the Let's Move! campaign to encourage physical activity and nutritious diet.

chapter 22

The Obamas frequently have to address crises and human suffering. Following the BP oil spill's containment, they vacation at a Florida beach, demonstrating the ocean's safety. Michelle and Jill Biden offer solace to Haitian earthquake survivors and frequently visit injured veterans at Walter Reed Medical Center. The Let’s Move! program implements healthier school cafeteria meals and earns a commitment from Walmart for healthier products. A child nutrition legislation is passed to enhance school meals further. The Joining Forces initiative, led by Michelle and Jill Biden, aims to support military families. Meanwhile, Barack is kept awake by numerous concerns, including child nutrition and military family needs. Security becomes a critical concern, especially with Donald J. Trump questioning Barack's citizenship. A shooting incident at the White House heightens these fears. Despite this, Michelle and the girls strive to maintain normalcy, engaging in sports and taking covert trips to Target and PetSmart. The Obamas form a close bond with their security agents over time. Michelle establishes a mentoring program to help girls from challenging backgrounds, reminiscent of the guidance she received growing up. She organizes an annual fitness 'Boot Camp' for close friends at Camp David. Concurrently, one worry is alleviated when a special team successfully eliminates Osama bin Laden without casualties.

chapter 23

While Michelle Obama understands her popularity as the first Black First Lady, she struggles with the weight of her role. Determined to assist Barack's 2012 reelection campaign, she takes on the challenging political landscape, including the Republican opposition. Before this, she embarks on an inspiring trip to Africa, visiting figures like Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela. Upon her return, she focuses on advancing the Let's Move! initiative and joins Jill Biden in renovating a disabled veteran's home. She also explores the influence of social media, with her first tweet promoting Joining Forces. In a tense political year, Barack barely maintains his lead over Mitt Romney and disappoints in the first televised debate. On election night, Michelle purposefully avoids the news, finding out about Barack's victory later than most. Tragedy strikes when a shooting at Sandy Hook School in Connecticut claims 26 lives. Michelle is emotionally unable to accompany Barack to the prayer vigil held at the site. After a young girl is killed in a drive-by shooting in Michelle's hometown of Chicago, Michelle feels compelled to act. The girl, an ambitious student who reminded Michelle of herself, had recently performed at Barack's second inauguration. Michelle attends the funeral and talks with the grieving parents. Later, she shares a candid conversation with South Side students about their experiences with gang violence and the relative safety of their streets. She encourages them to view education as a lifeline, understanding that Washington will not be their savior. To promote this idea, she launches the Reach Higher initiative to inspire more young people to pursue higher education.

chapter 24

The Obamas strive to maintain a sense of normalcy in their daughters' lives, requesting gossip sites to remove their pictures and using their puppies, Bo and Sunny, as representatives in press shoots. Michelle adapts to Malia's college scouting by sending her assistant instead of accompanying her. Amidst their personal experiences, violence persists with several young Black men losing their lives to police brutality and a racially charged church shooting in Charleston. The tragic event led to Barack singing "Amazing Grace" publicly in a sign of mourning. Amidst these challenges, they also celebrate victories like the Supreme Court's endorsement of same-sex marriage, which saw the White House lit in rainbow colors. As the 2016 presidential election draws near, the Obamas maximize their White House tenure by launching the Let Girls Learn initiative, advocating for girls' education globally. This endeavor involves Michelle leveraging entertainment celebrities and making TV appearances. During their final UK visit, they enjoy a relaxed interaction with the Queen. Michelle is revolted by Donald Trump's past and present aggressive behavior. She rallies for Hillary Clinton at the Democratic convention, providing the mantra, "When they go low, we go high.” Despite the polls favoring Hillary on election night, the surprise victory of Trump leaves the Obamas and their team disheartened. However, Michelle finds solace in their accomplished endeavours over the past eight years, viewing the diverse cast of the Hamilton musical as a testament to America's progress.


The departure from the White House is a difficult transition for the Obamas, as they bid farewell to the numerous individuals who have cared for them during their eight-year tenure. Observing the predominantly white and male crowd at Trump's inauguration, Michelle eventually gives up on maintaining a facade of happiness. She doesn't intend to pursue a political career. She is continually evolving into her future role, drawing strength from the achievements she and Barack have made during their time in office.

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