I'm only halfway through the book, and I like some of it, but I am bothered of the portrayal of Michelle's childhood. The author tries to make it sound like Michelle's parents were poor. He says her father's first city job paid "only $6,000 a year." Well, $6,000 in 1964 was the equivalent of $46,000 today...not bad. And her father's salary doubled in five years. Well, $12,000 in 1969 is the equivalent of $77,700 today. That is quite well off, in my book.
The author says Michelle's family didn't have a living room, and yet they invited friends over to watch sports on TV, and Michelle had her own piano. If their place was so cramped, how would they have room for a piano, and to have friends over to watch the game on TV?
As a younger child, Michelle had an easy-bake oven, and a whole bunch of expensive Barbie dolls and accessories. At age 16, Michelle bought a Coach purse for $300 ($865 in today's dollars) from her babysitting money, and had a car to get to and from high school. This was not the lifestyle of someone whose family was poor.
How do I know? Because I grew up in humble beginnings. We always had food and a roof over our head, but there was no money for expensive toys like Barbie dolls. My parents were divorced, and when I applied to college in 1967, the household income was $3,000 a year. I saved my summer earnings and my babysitting money for college. I didn't have a car. I didn't buy designer handbags or any other such thing.
Don't get me wrong. I don't begrudge Michelle Obama all the nice things she had. I think it's great that her parents were able to do so much for her. But at the same time, I would appreciate a more honest look at her childhood. She had upwardly mobile parents who were able to make good money and provide her with a better life financially than the average family. That is the truth.
"I don't want anybody to think that it's easy...We have a strong marriage, but it's not perfect," Michelle Obama once said of her marriage to Barack. Veteran biographer Christopher Andersen has written an interesting book about the Obamas, ostensibly about their marriage but more a biography of their individual lives up to the time they entered the White House in 2009. Andersen, who is famous for his research, liberally quotes from friends and relatives about the first couple--some good, some bad, some exactly what you would expect. As with his other books, it's a cross between a serious study of their lives and an article in PEOPLE magazine.
There are no real surprises in the book, as the story of Barack and Michelle is so well known. Barack was a druggie when he was in high school; Michelle was a goodie-goodie who first felt racial discrimination as an undergraduate at Princeton. (Although it may surprise you to learn that when Michelle was a high-powered attorney with the equally high-powered Chicago law firm Sidney Austin, she was in charge of the accounts for Barney, the purple dinosaur children's TV show character, and Coors Beer. For some reason, this amused me!)
Even more than the biographical information, Andersen really shows through the portrayal of the Obamas' lives the personal toll running for and serving in public office takes on a family--even when everyone in the family supports the effort. We should salute all who choose this form of public service.
Found it very interesting , particularly after reading two of Barack Obama's autobiographies. Michelle comes over as being a brilliant woman and one who knows what is important in life and how to be supportive of an ambitious husband - although it is often tough going. What an amazing couple!