Reviews for The Light We Carry

by Michelle Obama

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Michelle Obama follows her best-selling Becoming (2018) with a self-help memoir full of inspiring stories and insightful reflections on her public and personal lives and how she has overcome challenges as a spouse, mother, and friend. Obama encourages readers facing tough times to recognize that self-worth comes wrapped in vulnerability, and if you know the light you carry, you know yourself. She discusses her difficult times and how she handled depression, anxiety, and uncertainty during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic and the current rise in bigotry in America with special "tools" to keep her grounded. She provides excellent examples of how she and other leaders use these tools and asks readers to ask themselves, "During times of chaos, what tools do I use to keep myself grounded?" Obama encourages readers to "work through fear, find strength within and live with boldness." She also explore issues about race, gender, diversity, and relationships with family, sharing touching stories about her mother, the family's matriarch, and beloved father, who courageously battled multiple sclerosis. Wayfinding through adulthood is challenging. The Light We Carry is highly recommended for all, but especially women and young adults who are starting new journeys and experiences in life.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A heartening pep talk from the former first lady. Obama's previous book, Becoming, was the bestselling book of 2018, translated into 24 languages and embraced around the world—not only because the author was already beloved and admired, but because the memoir shared the details of a unique, impressive life story. This follow-up is the kind of book that gets published because everyone wants more, whether or not there actually is any more to say. Inspired by roundtable discussions with young women and college students—and by questions asked on her arena book tour—Obama recapitulates and expands her guiding beliefs, giving us "a glimpse inside my personal toolbox…what I use professionally and personally to help me stay balanced and confident, what keeps me moving forward even during times of high anxiety and stress." We've heard before about the author's experiences as a Black woman at Princeton; the inspiring example of her father; the importance of friendship in her life; the early days of her relationship with her husband; and the decision to move her down-to-earth mother to the White House. She returns to those topics here, this time focusing less on storytelling than on crystallizing advice for those dealing with experiences of otherness, prejudice, "not-mattering" and loneliness (12% of Americans say they have no friends at all!). The author strongly believes our weaknesses can fuel our strengths, offering the example of inaugural poet Amanda Gorman’s overcoming her speech impediment. Toward the end of the book, Obama addresses the idea she's become most famous for "going high," first articulated at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. "But have you seen the world lately?" people ask her, after all the miseries and outrages of the last several years. "Are we stillsupposed to be going high?" Read the book to find out. No surprises or reveals but plenty of warmth and encouragement, particularly for young people. A good holiday gift. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Library Journal
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Obama's follow up to the best-selling Becoming makes it clear that she doesn't have all the answers, but she certainly has some suggestions. She posits that the light inside each person is unique and is to be used to navigate through good times and bad. How does one live life to its fullest and make peace when things are imperfect? How can relationships be more rewarding? Though she moves from world issues to personal ones, Obama doesn't try to categorize anything as large or small. The stories she shares about her mother make it clear where her down-to-earth attitude originates. As with Becoming, the author's narration is vital to the message that everyone sometimes feels like they are in over their head—doubting oneself is a natural part of being human. Obama's methods of dealing with fears and worry will help some more than others, but knowing she shares the journey is the best takeaway. VERDICT Obama's candid narration adds a level of intimacy between the book and the listener. This engaging performance should be available to all public library patrons.—Christa Van Herreweghe