STARRED REVIEW
January 2017

A portrait of Michelle Obama as FLOTUS

By Veronica Chambers
As the Obamas leave the White House, their departure saddens many, as evidenced by the essays in The Meaning of Michelle, a diverse collection united by admiration in a “praise song” anthology. Whether discussing Michelle Obama’s shapely arms, her fashion sense or her “Evolution of Mom Dancing” with Jimmy Fallon, these 16 writers would all agree with chef Marcus Samuelsson’s observation: “It’s nothing short of stunning the way she manages a 24/7 news cycle.”
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As the Obamas leave the White House, their departure saddens many, as evidenced by the essays in The Meaning of Michelle, a diverse collection united by admiration in a “praise song” anthology. Whether discussing Michelle Obama’s shapely arms, her fashion sense or her “Evolution of Mom Dancing” with Jimmy Fallon, these 16 writers would all agree with chef Marcus Samuelsson’s observation: “It’s nothing short of stunning the way she manages a 24/7 news cycle.”

Samuelsson got to know the first lady in 2009 while planning and cooking the Obamas’ first state dinner, for the prime minister of India and 400 guests. He concludes, “I think she embodies the ability to shape the conversation around her better than any person that I know.”

Here and there, we learn interesting tidbits of Michelle’s past, such as the horrifying fact that when she attended Princeton as an undergraduate in the 1980s, the family of her first roommate protested to the administration that their daughter had been assigned to room with a black person. (It would certainly be interesting to check in on this family now.) We’re also reminded of smile-worthy moments, such as the self-proclaimed mom-in-chief’s response that if she could be anyone other than herself, it would be Beyoncé.

Those who feel despondent about FLOTUS leaving the White House are likely to rally behind novelist and essayist Cathi Hanauer’s closing plea: “She has said she’ll never run for president herself. To that I say: Never say never, Michelle. Let’s just see where we all are a decade from now.”

 

This article was originally published in the January 2017 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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The Meaning of Michelle

The Meaning of Michelle

By Veronica Chambers
St. Martin's
ISBN 9781250114969

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