AN INTIMATE, POWERFUL, AND INSPIRING MEMOIR BY THE FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES
THE MOST HIGHLY ANTICIPATED NONFICTION BOOK OF 2018 3 MILLION COPIES WORLDWIDE
GLOBAL PUBLICATION IN 31 LANGUAGES
“I’m an ordinary person who found herself on an extraordinary journey. In sharing my story, I hope to help create space for other stories and other voices, to widen the pathway for who belongs and why.”
– Michelle Obama, from the epilogue to Becoming
Former First Lady of the United States of America Michelle Obama is one of the most admired women in the world. As First Lady—the first African American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the United States and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments.
In her strikingly candid and honest memoir, BECOMING, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent in the White House, and to her transition back to being a private citizen.
A global publishing event, BECOMING is published in the UK and British Commonwealth territories by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Books at Penguin Random House UK An audio edition of the book, read by Mrs. Obama, is published in digital and physical formats by Penguin Random House Audio.
With warmth and wit, Mrs. Obama describes in BECOMING her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. Some of the stories she shares include:
- What it was like growing up on the South Side of Chicago in a loving middle class African American family living in a small apartment above her aunt Robbie’s home, and how her neighborhood transitioned during the time of “white flight.”
- How her family has served as her core and inspiration, and how her parents kept “the flame” in her lit by raising her to be confident and see no limits, to believe that she could “go after and get absolutely anything I wanted.” She writes candidly and lovingly about her mother, Marian Robinson, who nurtured her sense of independence; about her dad, Fraser, whose quiet courage in battling MS impacted her own life profoundly; and about her brother, Craig, who served as her protector, mentor, and friend.
- Her years at Princeton, where she was among only a few other African American students, and where she focused on the path she set for herself to succeed—having learned to block out the doubters, like her high school guidance counselor who told her that she wasn’t Ivy League material.
- Her early professional life as a Harvard-educated lawyer, landing a job as an associate at a top Chicago law firm where she mentored a young intern named Barack Obama, a “unicorn” who would become the love of her life despite their very different experiences and personalities.
- How her experience of personal loss—the death of her father and of a dear friend from college— left her questioning life’s purpose and the career she had chosen, and transformed her from being a “box-checker” to a person willing to “swerve” and take on a new career in public service.
- Her candid reflections on adjusting to the realities of marriage, including the challenges she and her husband both faced as they sought to excel in their chosen fields while wanting to have—and then raising—children at a time when he was pursuing a political career that she never really wanted.
- The difficulties she and Barack Obama experienced in getting pregnant, as well as the stresses on their marriage that lead them to seek out counseling—a process through which she recognized her own agency in her happiness.
- Details of the 2008 Presidential campaign, and of her adjustment once again to a new phase in her life. Her ability to connect with ordinary people’s concerns and frustrations lead her to become a force on the trail, but as she rose, opponents and haters quickly tried to tear her down and define her on their own terms. After bottoming out, she learned to keep finding and asserting her own voice on this new stage.
- Her behind-the-scenes story of the historic election night of 2008 and of her transition from private citizen to First Lady, the speed and magnitude of which was overwhelming as she worried about her daughters and what they would go through—new schools, new friends, new lives.
- The highs and lows of the White House years, as Mrs. Obama asserted her voice as First Lady, opening up the White House and connecting directly with young people. She planted a garden and launched meaningful initiatives in her own style—advocating for women and young girls and the importance of education, creating programs to help families pursue healthier and more active lives, and working with military families—and strategically using mass media and social media to make a wide impact. As a result of those initiatives, 45 million kids were eating healthier breakfasts and lunches; 11 million students were getting 60 minutes of physical activity every day; and businesses had been persuaded to hire or train more than 1.5 million veterans and military spouses.
- How she experienced intense public scrutiny—of her causes and of how she dressed and wore her hair—and developed a “fashion strategy” to bring attention to her issues, all while supporting her husband through his two history-making terms and raising two growing girls.
- Her reflections on her tenure as a history-making and impactful First Lady, one who left a legacy of concrete accomplishment and broader inspiration to people across America and around the world. As exemplified by her speech at the 2016 Democratic Convention (“When they go low, we go high”), she leaves the White House in full command of her voice and her story, channeling the lessons she’s learned throughout her life to call on our best instincts at a time when we needed it the most.
- Her thoughts about her transition from First Lady back to private citizen, as she embarks on a new chapter in her life journey and seeks to continue to positively impact the lives of others around the world. “It’s not about being perfect,” she writes. “It’s not about where you get yourself in the end. There’s power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice. And there’s grace in being willing to know and hear others. This, for me, is how we become.”
This is Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama’s story of becoming. It is a story of hope and optimism, one that chronicles the still-unfolding journey of a girl from the South Side of Chicago whose life has been filled with highs and lows, extraordinary opportunities, and ordinary moments that have proved definitive to whom she has become.
At the time of publication, Mrs. Obama is embarking on a 10-city tour produced by Live Nation that features an all-star roster of moderators in arenas across the United States. The U.S. tour kicks off in Mrs. Obama’s hometown of Chicago with Oprah Winfrey as moderator. Mrs. Obama and Live Nation have set aside 10 percent of ticket inventory in each tour market for local organizations including, but not limited to, charities, schools, and community groups—giving away thousands of tickets to people around the country, particularly to young people growing up in communities like she did.
An international book tour to the UK, France, and Germany is planned for December 3-7: Mrs Obama will be in conversation with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall on Monday 3rd December. Information about the book is available to consumers at www.becomingmichelleobama.com.
BECOMING by Michelle Obama
Viking, an imprint at Penguin Books of Penguin Random House November 13 on-sale date
Hardcover U.K. price: £25.00
Also available in Ebook, Audio Download U.K. and Audio CD