Michelle Obama Reviews                                                        Back to homepage

Getting down with the real Michelle Obama,  April 7, 2012


This review is from: Michelle Obama: A Biography (Greenwood Biographies) (Hardcover)

I have always enjoyed reading Dr. Alma Bond's novelistic treatments of celebrated women, including Maria Callas, Camille Claudel, and most recently Jacqueline Beauvoir Kennedy, because of their deep psychological insights. Although Michelle Obama, her latest book is a more traditional biography it is no less insightful for being non-fiction.

Organized into 13 fact filled chapters, with an introduction, helpful time line, selected bibliography, and index, and augmented by a series of black and white photographs, Michelle Obama takes its rightful place in a spate of recent biographies on the first African American First Lady. It is a book that gives us more than a skin deep portrait. This comes as no surprise since Bond is a psychoanalyst with a string of credentials to her credit as well as years of private practice. Add to this that she is an accomplished writer and you have a winning combination.

Michelle like former first lady, Hilary Clinton is one of the most admired women in America. One of the reasons as Bond notes in chapter ten is because of her parenting skills. In fact, both Obamas are excellent role models of good enough parenting despite incredibly pressured and responsible jobs. For example, when the children wanted a dog, for example, Malia who is allergic presented them with the challenge of finding one that would be comfortable for both children. The nation's eyes and hearts were riveted on this family drama. In the end the family ended up with Bo, a purebred Portuguese Water Dog. It was the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy and his wife, Victoria who saved the day and Bo who had been returned by his first owner because he did not fit well into that household. Unbeknown to Michelle and Barack as well as the girls, The Kennedys sent Bo to their own obedience trainer and then made a gift of him to the Obama family.

Malia and Sasha face their own challenges growing up in the White House. Bond addresses these issues with compassion and awareness of just how difficult it can be. As a mother and a working woman, Alma Bond knows how painful it can be to see your children going through an unprecedented transition from a normal family life to life in the White House. Here Bond talks about the children's differing personalities, Malia as calm and peaceful and Sasha as sweet and vivacious.

Michelle Obama has, like Jacqueline Kennedy gained a reputation as "first lady of fashion", albeit in a more down to earth formulation. She shops at J.Crew and tends to favor a more realistic style of dressing. No extremes for Michelle. Her taste is not classic and understated when it comes to color. She sports her own look favoring striking shades of tomato red, lemony yellow, shimmering violet and sparkling white. Also she likes striking accessories. She wears feathered brooches, gumball sized necklaces, and various slender studded belts encircle her trim waist. As a first lady she proves you can look stylish dressing in pieces from ready-wear manufacturers. It's refreshing and sends a strong message, "I'm just like you", to American women.

In the final chapter, Bond describes the impact of Michelle's influence as a first lady. She compares and contrasts Michelle with other women who have served in the White House, including Eleanor Roosevelt, Jacqueline Kennedy, Pat Nixon, Betty Ford, Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan, and Hillary Clinton. She then explores the shared interests of first couples such as acting, law, community service and so on. An added bonus is her consideration of the significant roles that first ladies play in assisting and supporting their husbands in every way while in the White House. She points out the considerable psychological stress that being first wives have placed on marriage and family life. The pressure of being a public advocate too takes its toll on the women who serve this country. In Michelle Obama's case the daunting job of dealing with the problems of military families and the overwhelming mental health issues that emerge in the aftermath of war have meant that she has far less time to devote to her daughters and their needs.

First ladies must put on a face. They develop a tough skin, unflappable manner, brilliant repartee and a style all their own. It is not a matter, as Bond is at pains to tell us, of if they like the job or not. They have no choice once their man is in the White House and sitting in the president's chair. Eleanor Roosevelt, surely one of our most admired first ladies braved the currents of the day taking unpopular positions and showing charm, warmth, and grace under fire from the administration's enemies. She even managed to convert some of them to her positions. Bond concludes her biography of Michelle Obama suggesting that Michelle may be one of the best first ladies we have ever had.

Despite being geared for younger readers, Alma Bond's Michelle Obama is a book to be enjoyed by all ages. It is packed full of interesting and relevant information and gives us a psychological window into our current first lady that does not rely upon a lot of hype and star shine. For that reason along it is worth a read.

WOW! Loved this book,  March 17, 2012

This review is from: Michelle Obama: A Biography (Greenwood Biographies) (Hardcover)

Dr. Bond has done it again. A well-written and heavily researched look into the life of the fabulous Michelle Obama; we are treated to Dr. Bond's unique psychological viewpoint. A must read for anyone interested in the extraordinary life of our lovely first lady. Highly recommended!