How and why do I read so much? Simply, there is nothing on TV, and my Apple TV doesn’t arrive until tomorrow and I have seen all the movies of interest at this time. I gravitate to books about strong women succeeding against the odds. For the most part these women are African American, pretty warped by neglect from family and society at large.
Little wonder I gravitated towards Becoming by Michelle Obama and The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict. Mrs. Obama book just dropped this year and is getting rave reviews and she is selling out stadiums for readings. The Other Einstein dropped in 2016, and I hadn’t heard of it before because I was on my way to out of B and N to pay for Becoming.
Summary of Each Book
12 Tribes of Hattie describes Hattie as a child and part of the great migration of African Americans out of Jim Crow South to the hopeful Philadelphia. She watches helplessly as her twin babies die in her arms and she is hooked into a 50 year cycle of grief and depravity that affects her life and that of her surviving 9 children. Perfect Peace describes a family that stays and survives in the Deep South and describes a mother’s desperate decision to make her newborn son a girl. The Other Einstein introduces us to the forgotten but brilliant wife of Albert Einstein, Mitza Maric, who thought she would be a partner in his climb to the top of the world of Physics, but was trampled upon by the man she loved as he climbed to stratospheric superstar status on her work. Lastly, Becoming describes the humble beginnings of life of Michelle Obama as she grows up in the Southside of Chicago to obtaining her degrees from both Princeton and eventual law degree from Harvard to becoming the First Lady of the United States to the first African American President, Barack Obama, without losing herself and becoming a superstar in her own right.
Themes Present In All 4 Books
Yes, the past few weeks have been a TV black hole of Christmas specials on Hallmark and reruns of PBS. I read and reread each of these books and devised this write up because of entertainment oblivion I have been in and to keep my mind engaged. Each book represent different genres and time periods but they all have similar prevailing themes. The sense of losing oneself or being dwarfed by a superstar husband was thwarted by Michelle Obama by journaling and making a conscious effort to be whole in spite of the overwhelming tidal wave of being married to such a brilliant man. Mitza Einstein’s light was smothered before she was able to shine and she stayed she was different but never learned to effectively navigate the “bohemian” part of her. Hattie and Emma Jean, Perfect’s mother, are the 2 most tragic and most warped by their environments. Hattie’s by the grief and frustration as a result of racism and her own bad choices. And Emma Jean was warped by the neglect and physical abuse of her own mother and how racism caused her mother to that abuse.
Who Did They Idolize?
In a way each of these women idolized other woman of their generation for a variety of reasons. Michelle Obama idolized the independence of Mary Tyler Moore. This character had a job and didn’t let her boss, Lou Grant’s character, boss her around. Mitza idolized Marie Curie and her husband Philippe, who allowed Marie Curie to succeed and her husband forced the male dominated scientific community to recognize Marie’s genius. Mitza was hopeful for this treatment that never came to fruition. Emma Jean idolized her lighter complected, “good hair” half siblings to her unwillingness to love her son’s and husband appropriately and her lack of self esteem couldn’t believe that she could be loved by her own father. I am not sure Hattie trusted herself enough to idolize anyone.
Who Were Their Advocates?
For Michelle Obama, her mother was her biggest advocate from getting her out of the second grade class with the no-account teacher to both parents working tirelessly to pay for her ivy league education. Mitza Einstein’s biggest advocate was her father but he never prepared her to deal with the emotional toll of being in a relationship. Emma Jean and Hattie did not accept help and pushed most people away out of mistrust. Both used anger to protect their feelings and heart from pain.
Did They Live Their Truth?
Michelle Obama was wholly self possessed and a successful health care professional prior to President Obama’s senate run and she continued this in her role as First Lady, and then once they left the White House. She set the bar high for accomplishment, service with grace. Mitza Einstein, who most think was the originator of the theory of special relativity that her husband received credit but it was only as a tutor for other young women later in life that she caught a glimpse of what she could have done if she managed herself with Einstein better. Hattie didn’t mellow out until she was in her 70s and whatever humanness in Emma Jean was burned out of her.
How Did Each Reconcile The Males In Their Lives…
Michelle Obama again worked double time to not be dwarfed by the giant of a husband. She used the strength of her father’s struggle with MS and her grandfather to create her own persona of strength on her own terms. The other 3 women are a cautionary tale on losing oneself for the sake of the love of a man that was Mitza Einstein intellectual equal in some respects and inferior in others. Hattie couldn’t see past her grief and in an effort to protect herself she neglected her children. But she stayed out of penance because she selected a man that truly was inferior to her. Emma Jean simply did not feel she could be loved and did not know how to love equally and effectively.
All of these women were shaped by their environments excelling beyond everyone’s wildest dream, in the case of Michelle Obama, including her own. But the other 3 women are so tragic but inspirational in their own respect. Their lives reflect what it means of being complete on your own terms and not fading to black for love.