Dr. R. Bhairam

Old Coulsdon UK
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I think she’s great, big supporter .... but!

3 out of 5 stars
2 out of 5 stars
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-07-19

The truth is, my opinion counts for nothing, but I thought I’d share it. Firstly, I think in her public life, MO comes across as an incredibly inspiring, warm and genuine. Without question, I truly think she probably is. The book was recommended and as my first Audible, I thought this would be perfect to have her book read by her!! (spoiler, how wrong was I?!).

It starts well and I was immediately hooked, her stories of early life were quaint and engaging. She also shares some emotional experiences of friends and family (but I’ll leave that there). But for me, it starts to collapse when Barack enters the tale. It becomes a bit sugar sweet, a bit too (dare I say!) sycophantic, everything appears to come all too easy and I also had a sense of the ‘Brady Bunch’, very twee and cutesy. For example on the night they get engaged; they are in a restaurant, she brings the subject of marriage up, he says he doesn’t see the point, she’s clearly devastated, frustrated and angry (“You choose to mention this now?” she says) but apparently, in her words, they don’t ‘fight’ only ‘argue like lawyers’, which is a bit patronising to all the non lawyers, who in her opinion are not bright or articulative enough to discuss such an important issue without ‘fighting’. Then of course the waiter brings out (yes you guessed!) the silver server with the felt box and all forgotten, (in the series substitute the waiter for Cindy Brady!) Finally, ‘it seems like’ the whole restaurant applauds (as if they were all in on it).

OK, I won’t labour it but there is a sense in this book that she continually tries to make the banal seem magical and unique to them ... banal story, magical ending, banal story, magical or profound ending etc - eventually it honestly starts to grate. Bearing in mind their clearly evidenced concern and passion to improve life for the Black community I never once felt a real sense of the how gritty it really was, or how I’d imagine Chicago was at this time (The projects, the significant Crack epidemic, the real poverty and struggle - all ingredients I’d expect to be part of Becoming). Instead I got a sense of a bright and pleasant Princeton/Harvard girl who knew of these issues, but never really ‘lived’ them, in fact, was probably (rightly) protected from them.

Now I should add I’m only 14 ( and as I will explain, I don’t think I’ll finish), so things may well improve, but this brings me to perhaps a key point for me ... her narrative is so monotonous it’s numbing and in fact if I were trapped next to her at a dinner party whilst she was telling her story, I’d be making ‘childminder’ excuses (incidentally my youngest is 19!) ! - Why she felt the need to sing part of the Stevie Wonder song she had at her wedding will be one of those mysteries that will remain with me forever!). Also as ana side for some reason, she occasionally lapses into a Fresh Prince of Bel-Air/Different Strokes accent when quoting people, which doesn’t really work.

I appreciate if you’ve switched off from my review by now, and that’s fine but if you’re still here, one last point about her narrative, it was enough to make me think ‘are all audio books this poor?’ And so I have cancelled my account before I get hit for a bill.

So, yes definitely read it and support her, this is most certainly not a reflection upon her, I honestly really like her, but be prepared for a non remarkable story as you already know how it ends and if you choose to listen, be prepared for a very average narration, yes, it starts well but sadly it does become monotonous I am afraid.

I honestly want to finish it but I’m not sure it will be any time soon ...

6 of 7 people found this review helpful