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All Revved Up, 11/26/2018

In 'Becoming,' Michelle Obama Tells Her Own Story

Books-Obama Sales
Former first lady Michelle Obama spoke to a crowd on Nov. 17 as she presented her anticipated memoir "Becoming" during her book tour stop in Washington.
Jose Luis Magana/AP
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All Revved Up, 11/26/2018

In just the first week since it was released, former First Lady Michelle Obama's new memoir, "Becoming," has already sold over 1.4 million copies.

Reverend Irene Monroe and Reverend Emmett Price shared their thoughts on the book on the latest installment of "All Revved Up," their weekly segment on Boston Public Radio. Monroe is a syndicated religion columnist and the Boston voice for Detour’s African American Heritage Trail, and Price is a professor and founding executive director of the Institute for the Study of the Black Christian Experience at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

Monroe said the book paints a surprising and moving portrait of Obama's life trajectory, which went in a direction — toward politics and public life — that its subject never expected.

"It’s really an empowering statement: That when we follow our bliss, when we work towards empowerment and healing, we don’t have the kind of society we now are living in,” Monroe said.

Monroe said "Becoming" also pushes back against narratives about the Obamas perpetuated during Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign and during their time in the White House.

"She’s trying to move away from the trope of the 'angry black woman' and for you to see her as who she is,” Monroe said.

Price said the memoir gives the reader an understanding of Michelle as an individual, not just as a First Lady or as part of her famous marriage.

"She gets to tell her story now — not their story, but her story, through her lens and her experiences,” Price said.

Her husband, of course, still plays a role. The former president recently surprised his wife at one of her book events in Washington, D.C., where she was undoubtedly the star.

"That’s the fun," Price said. "He’s the ‘plus one’ now."

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