by Michelle Obama

It took me a long time to read this book because it was so very painful. Hearing Michelle’s story as someone reaching for education and a life beyond the one she experienced with loving and hard-working parents in the South Side of chicago was both inspiring and sobering. While she suceeded at an Ivy League college level, so many did not.

Reading her perspective of the unrelenting, grueling pace of the Presidency and First Ladyhood in both responding to world events such as Osama Bin Ladin’s death, the SandyHook shooting, etc, whilst trying to connect to people’s concerns on a real level and oversee some semblance of childhood for their daughters is presented as daunting task that Michelle navigates with as much grace as she can muster.

Why is this painful? Let me skip to the end where the end of her husband’s presidency ushers in a new president who has been caught on tape making devastatingly sexist and domineering comments about women. The stand-out theme from this book is how much her husband really cared about people– all people. And it is depressing and sad to read about that care and grace and eloquence and hard work in the context of the current presidency.

But we should read this. Not only for the truths about being black in the U.S. , but also for the truths Michelle reveals about her dissatisfaction with her outwardly amazingly successful life: Princeton, Harvard, high powered lawyer job….that she ultimately gives up in order to immerse herself in more non-profit related endeavors serving others.

That is a truth I think we could all embrace.

So at times, the listing of accomplishments and her obviously hero-tinged portrait of Barack makes this a bit skim-worthy in parts…but really, its an amazing perspective of politics, social forces, and the potential for the U.S. to grow as a people.