Review of The Light We Carry, by Michelle Obama

The Light We Carry

Overcoming in Uncertain Times

by Michelle Obama

Crown, 2022. 318 pages.
Review written January 16, 2023, from a library book
Starred Review

Michelle Obama is a treasure. This book doesn’t contain profound new insights, but it does contain words and stories to inspire you to be your best, and to see the best in other people. She doesn’t pretend any of this is easy, but she tells stories about persevering when things are difficult.

I like the title, because Michelle Obama is exceptionally good at seeing the light in everyone. Everyone carries light inside them, and she is good at finding it in others. This is reflected in this paragraph talking about her book tour for Becoming:

When I looked out into those audiences, I saw something that confirmed what I knew to be true about my country and about the world more generally. I saw a colorful crowd, full of differences, and better for it. These were spaces where diversity was recognized and celebrated as a strength. I saw different ages, races, genders, ethnicities, identities, outfits, you name it — people laughing, clapping, crying, sharing. I sincerely believe that many of those people had turned up for reasons that stretched well past me or my book. My feeling was they’d shown up at least in part to feel less alone in the world, to locate some lost sense of belonging. Their presence — the energy, warmth, and diversity of those spaces — helped tell a certain story. People were there, I believe, because it felt good — it felt great, actually — to mix our differentness with togetherness.

She talks about living life in relationship with others — friends and family you let into your life. And there may not be anything earth-shaking there, but it is inspirational.

Here’s another paragraph I liked:

All I can do is try to draw closer to your uniqueness, to feel linked by the small overlaps between us. This is how empathy works. It’s how differentness starts to weave itself into togetherness. Empathy fills the gaps between us, but never closes them entirely. We get pulled into the lives of others by virtue of what they feel safe and able to show us, and the generosity with which we are able to meet them. Piece by piece, person by person, we begin to apprehend the world in more fullness.

It’s worth the wait on the Holds list.

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Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but the views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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