There’s a bit of a delay between me finishing this book and me posting this review – I left my previous job and I went on holiday…and then I started a new job and went on another holiday and got engaged so yeah it’s been a bit crazy!
“It’s about learning how to shelter your flame without hiding its light.”
Now as my avid readers will attest, non-fiction is not my go to genre and I’ll be completely honest that I never read Becoming. However, this book was wonderful in all manners of the word and here I will explain how and why this an absolute must read.
First of all, Michelle Obama was not born into the rich and famous lifestyle. She wasn’t born with a ready made path to importance. No. Her mother was a stay-at-home mom, and her father worked in public works while battling multiple sclerosis.
“You fall. You get up. You carry on.”
Michelle Obama was not born with confidence. She was a black woman born into a white mans world. She fought so hard to get to where she is. She graduated from both Princeton and Harvard Law School – I’m not American but I know those are big names. The Oxford and Cambridge of the USA. She was was a boss of a law firm in Chicago and it was there that she met Barack Obama…she was his boss.
“And at the heart of this lies a head-spinning paradox: Being different conditions you toward cautiousness, even as it demands that you be bold.”
She takes on so many concepts; concepts which aren’t talked about openly enough or freely enough, for example – the concept of unity in diversity. The idea of unity without uniformity and diversity without fragmentation and not just that, but the fact that it is achievable.
“In life, it’s hard to dream about what’s not visible.”
Within the ten chapters of this book, she discusses topics which many wouldn’t dare even consider but also discusses it in relation to herself from debating the parenting methods from her own parents to her own parenting style to delineating her ideas of friendship and of marital life – that everything has to be perfect.
“We are each other’s harvest:
we are each other’s business:
we are each other’s magnitude and bond.”Gwendolyn Brooks, From ‘Paul Robeson’
She exposed vulnerabilities too. She explained that one of best places to seek help from is your partner – if you have an ideal partner. She demonstrated that with examples of her and Barack throughout their time together.
“…I think of nerves. They’re a fuel source…it can power the ship, or…they blow up your ship.”
But it also rang true with me. If I am ever anxious or scared or even excited – I will talk to my now fiancé. He listens and understands and supports and offers advice when I need it. He reassures me when I have days of not feeling good enough or not sexy enough.
“Maybe, like me, you are hard on yourself. Maybe you see every problem as urgent. Maybe you want to do big things with your life, to drive yourself forward…not wasting a single second of time…Claim a small victory.”
When I went for my new job and I was scared he reminded me that fear is good, that it means we care. Barack Obama reminded Michelle of something very similar:
“He helped me remember that anxiety was a natural part of doing something new and big. He then wrapped his arms around me and touched his forehead lightly to mine. It was all I needed.”
When you have someone in your life, that you can talk to endlessly about anything and everything: hopes and dreams, fears and nightmares; when that someone knows that all you need is a hug – don’t let them go. My fiancé is my person and I am so lucky to have him and this book just reaffirmed that…he is also the one that brought me this book.
“Doubt comes from within…Which means that defying your fear almost always involves defying a part of yourself.”
She talks about the lights we carry and how it shows the way and strengthens those who seek it. It is during testing dark times that people will need the biggest help from those who have the light of wisdom with them.
“It’s natural for kids to want others to recognise their light. They crave it. They grow with it.”
We all have a light inside us and sometimes we have times that we need that light just a little more. We can use our light to help ourselves but also to help others and some need their light encouraged and respected. Some just need to feel loved.
“If kids feel invisible then they’ll find other ways to be seen, acting out inside the darkness they’re left with. If not given the chance to feel pride then they have no reason to respect the spaces they’re in or their authorities. Becomes easier to destroy something that doesn’t belong to you.”
From smartphones and friendships, to the COVID pandemic and knitting, racism and love and the trials and tribulations of being in the White House and subsequently leaving the White House. Michelle Obama covers it all and does so honestly and openly. No photoshopping just her.
“We are whole and uncontainable people with whole and uncontainable lives. Our messes sometimes travel with us to work. Our vulnerabilities surface, our worries spill over.”
There are many concepts and thoughts and feelings in this book that I can relate too, some made me laugh and smile, others made me very thoughtful and others damn right shocked me.
“What we don’t see, we assume can’t be. What a destructive assumption.”
If you are looking for a non-fiction book then this should be high on your list. The Light We Carry is a breath of fresh hope in a time where hope seems lost for many. When you look and see no version of yourself yourself and wonder how you belong, seek this book. Build yourself a platform, a base to build from. Find your own light. Let it glow. Let it shine. We all deserve a chance to shine. Positivity breeds positivity.
“Nothing can dim the light that shines from within.”Maya Angelou
Until next time (which may be sooner than you think because I have A LOT of book reviews to write),
Keep reading and keep shining,