Review: Michelle Obama’s autobiography is your new best friend

Feature photo credit: Millie Mobley

Michelle Obama has just released a new book, and in our opinion, it is definitely worth a read!

The Light We Carry is the second book from the former First Lady of the United States. In 2018, Michelle released her first book, Becoming, to critical acclaim and more than 17M copies have been sold worldwide. Four years on, she has decided to open up to her readers again, and has written a beautifully crafted autobiography.

In The Light We Carry, Michelle begins an incredibly frank and open discussion about an eclectic arrange of topics – from motherhood and mental health, to success and being your own worst critic.

In a possibly surprising revelation for a woman who oozes confidence and elegance, the former First Lady admits that she consistently struggles with inner thoughts about her appearance. “I’ve lived with my fearful mind for 58 years now,” she explains. “She makes me uneasy. She likes to see me weak.”

Michelle goes on to add that she often experiences mornings where she goes into her bathroom, turns on the light to look at herself in the mirror, and “desperately want[s] to flip it off again”. In particular, she has struggled with insecurities about her height for years, starting from her school days. “It created a small wound in me, the tiniest kernel of self-loathing that would keep me from embracing my strengths,” she writes candidly. It is these kinds of revelations that almost make you forget that she is one of the most powerful women in the world – in this book, she speaks like a friend.

In an extremely vulnerable chapter, Mrs Obama notes that, like many of us, she struggled with “low-grade” depression throughout the Covid pandemic. “I kept with the work I’d been doing – speaking at virtual voter registration drives, supporting good causes, acknowledging people’s pain – but privately I was finding it harder to access my own hope or to feel like I could make an actual difference,” she reveals. In a way, it felt comforting to read that while the world was at its darkest, we were all going through the same emotions. 

Towards the end of the autobiography, Michelle addresses her readers about the constant unfair battles that many of us face, especially in areas of our lives that we dream of being successful in, such as our careers. 

“When the climb finally ends and you arrive, exhausted and sweating, to that high place with a pretty view that you’ve long dreamed about, there’s one thing you’re almost always guaranteed to encounter, and that’s an air-conditioned luxury tour bus and a group of people who did none of the work, having been driven straight up an access road, their picnic blankets already laid out, their party well under way,” she writes.

She recognises that it is an exceptionally frustrating thing to experience, but she urges her readers to rise above it, and focus on the bigger issues at hand, such as “How do we build places where gladness lives?”. 

All in all, The Light We Carry is a remarkable read, and one that shall stay with us for quite some time. If we ever need a pep talk or a reminder that our dreams can be achieved, the first thing we’ll do is pick up this book again and allow Michelle’s relatability and words of wisdom to sink in.

The Light We Carry by Michelle Obama is published by Viking and is available now in stores and online (RRP €29)

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