autobiography · books · non-fiction · review

Becoming – Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama’s autobiography was at the top of my list for books to read in 2019; and as my first book of the year, it certainly didn’t disappoint. I rarely step away from the fiction sphere, but I do enjoy the familiar timeline an autobiography follows.

Elegantly written and at times raw and honest, Becoming showcases Michelle Obama’s remarkable life. From her upbringing in Chicago’s South Side to life in the White House, Michelle’s perseverance rings throughout. She stays true to both her ideals and values, never allowing the political surroundings to overcome herself.

Her life is extraordinary, there’s no denying that. But in the extraordinary lies the ordinary. The struggles of a working mother made harder by a husband away from home. The hardship of juggling what is expected from your career as opposed to feeling fulfilled with your work.

There are moments when being the First Lady seems too far removed from private life. During the first year of Barak Obama’s presidency, they go out for an evening in New York to see a show. A simple trip that should be easy to achieve. The secret service, of course, must sweep the restaurant and theatre before they can enter. Anyone who enters after them must also be security checked. The theatre show starts an agreed 45 minutes late to accommodate the extra security checks every visitor must go through. It’s a lot of extra resources for a simple night out.

Michelle doesn’t shy away from her political opinions either. She takes us through the transition phase of the Obama and Trump presidencies and her own realisation that she does not need to be openly welcoming or approving of Trump. And she isn’t. He was the one who spread lies that Barak was born in Kenya. Trump has openly declared a lot of Obama’s laws and legislations as stupid, repelling or replacing them with his own agenda.

Becoming explores Michelle Obama’s life, her personal gains and struggles. It shows the continuous oppression of an African-American in America, even one at the very top. As a women who didn’t aim for the spotlight, Michelle Obama has something to teach everyone.

autobiography · books · manchester · review · signing · young adult

All I Know Now

Alongside many peers of my own age, I’m constantly looking for role models; people who inspire and influence me. Those who appear to have a slightly better grasp on life then I currently do, who can offer advice, recommendations and aid us along our path.

All I Know Now - manchesterCarrie Hope Fletcher’s debut half-autobiographical half-advice book does just that, it’s a friendly guide, a chat with someone a little older then yourself. Her message is clear, we’re not facing our problems alone, they’ve been experienced before and they’ll be experienced once again. Whereas if we talk, discuss and open up ourselves things will get a lot simpler. Fletcher’s friendly tone follows through her writing, from friendship to bullying, optimism to reality and everything in between. Her guidance is perfect, approachable and easy to navigate through; certainly something I would have found very relatable through my early teenage years.

SignedWith my teens nearly behind me, there are of course aspect of the book that I found slightly irrelevant, but five years ago would have hung on to each little word. It’s a book that fills a much needed gap in the market, someones advice full of care and considerations with a clear audience in mind. Her incorporation of anecdotes fully reinstates that we all experience the same things, maybe not being chased by a bear, but we hit the same milestones at the end.

Her talk and Q&A session followed perfectly from her book; friendly and approachable, overly positive and eager to please her audience. We got to sing a long, giggle at the mishaps with the microphone and see her warmth and passion for what she’d written down. Fletcher reinforced her message, her positive approach to life and from that, it’s a book all ages can relate to; but if you’re in your early teens its an essential part to growing up.

All I know now          Book signing

All I Know Now is published by Little Brown, I visited her book tour event in Manchester. Find Carrie on youtube at http://www.youtube.com/carrie

Let me know your opinions on All I Know Now!

graphic novel · literature · review

Maus

AuschwitzAfter a rather emotionally draining screening of Schindler’s List today as a part of my Literature and History module, I wanted to step backwards to my reading of Maus last week. Although I felt I understood its story, its recollections of such a horrific way of life, I feel it took me until today to view a visual example to understand the many emotions and themes it covers.

Maus, or rather The Complete Maus is the very first piece of the Graphic Novel genre I have read. It’s visual aids and comic strip beginnings allow its plot to move at an entirely different rate to all other literature. It’s incorporation and equal spread of image to text, places the story on its own unique path; allowing it to speed up or slow down visually alongside the movement of the narrative.

One of the major arguments surrounding the text is brought up with its charactiscation of animals, some feel this removes its readers from its horror, others can view it as a fixed interpretation of our identity and culture. Are we Jews and subsequently a mouse, or German and then a cat or a polish pig? It removes our ability to be both and in turn fixates the Nazi’s own way of thinking to this narrative. MarsIt’s certainly a very clever interpretation of a surviver’s story; allowing its readers to relate, yet also distant ourselves. One that allows the thoughts and feelings of the victims and the powerful to coincide.

Furthermore, by using such a distinct format, this autobiographical account is as structured as The Final Solution; depicting many parallels as its narration continues. Yet Spiegelman intertwines this past within the present, firstly allowing some lighter relief to the barbaric tale being told, yet also reminding us how as readers we are a step behind. Art, himself has not lived through these events, his version is an interpretation, a very close one but nevertheless still a retelling. That even Vladek version is still just one of thousands, stories upon stories that even added together could never truly recreate the holocaust.

Overall Maus captures the holocaust and the subsequent life of a survivor unlike any other literature I have read, its mixture of images and text graphically produced the events as realistic yet removed in the depictions of animals. It truly made me think about our cultural identity, or our believes and my amaze to those who survived and died alike in these terrible condition. It is a piece of literature I feel everyone should read, if not how will we learn from our mistakes? Through such presentations of the holocaust, the victims are alive once more; and we must never forget them.

Maus                    IMG_4288_2