Michelle Obama, in new book, dishes about daughters Sasha and Malia and their life as roommates in L.A.
The biggest reveal in “The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times” is that Malia, 24, and Sasha, 21, are living together in Los Angeles.
WASHINGTON — Ex-First Lady Michelle Obama kicked off the tour to promote her new book — “The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times” (Crown/Penguin Random House) in which she dishes about daughters Malia and Sasha and their new lives in Los Angeles — with sold-out crowds earlier last week at the Warner Theatre here. The D.C. shows were moderated by Ellen DeGeneres.
Obama brings her book tour to Chicago on Dec. 5 and 6 at the Chicago Theatre. David Letterman helms the Dec. 5 show, and Heather McGhee hosts the next evening. The Dec. 5 show is sold out, but tickets remain for the Dec. 6 show, ranging from $174.75 to $249.50 at tickemaster.com.
In November 2018, Obama launched the book tour for her blockbuster memoir, “Becoming,” at the United Center in Chicago, where she was interviewed by her friend Oprah Winfrey.
As in “Becoming,” Obama’s touchstone remains Chicago’s South Side, where she and her brother, Craig, were raised by Fraser and Marian Robinson in a cramped apartment at 7436 S. Euclid, and where her relatives — centerpieces of her young world — all lived within a short drive.
The reference in the title to “Uncertain Times” sweeps in the uncertainty the COVID pandemic delivered to the world and the aftershocks of Donald Trump being elected president after the U.S. was led for two terms by Barack Obama, the nation’s first Black president.
“Whether or not the 2016 election was a direct rebuke” of the first “Black people in the White House,” Trump’s election “did hurt. It still hurts,” she writes, using italics to emphasize how the sting remains. “Running behind all this was a demoralizing string of thoughts: It had not been enough. The problems were too big, The holes were too giant, impossible to fill.”
Taking us with her, Obama works through her gloom in this book, which, like “Becoming,” is heavy on self-help and suggested life rules of the road.
Consider the calming effects of doing small things — such as, for Obama — knitting.
In early 2020, stuck in her house with COVID and Trump as president, Obama found her mind “slipping toward a dull place. I’d never contended with anything like depression before, but this felt like a low-grade form of it.”
She “was in a low place” when she ordered knitting needles online and turned to YouTube tutorials when the how-to books didn’t work for her. “Alone on my couch at home, my brain still stuffed with anxiety, I watched other people knit.”
It worked. The physical act of knitting, “the gentle rhythm of those clicking needles moved my mind in a new direction.”
The biggest reveal in the book is Obama’s willingness to share information about the private lives of daughters Malia, 24 and Sasha, 21, who we learn are living together as roommates in Los Angeles.
Obama staffers — from the days when Obama was a senator from Illinois to the White House years and beyond — asked the press to not cover the young girls, and journalists mostly obliged. Things now have changed, courtesy of their mom.
Obama writes in generalities — Sasha is in Los Angeles “going to college” and Malia is “working in an entry-level writing job.”
Since Obama opened the door to their lives and invited us in — here are some details for you. A source told me Sasha transferred from the University of Michigan to the University of Southern California, where she goes by a different name — and the school, used to dealing with the children of celebs, does not include her in the student directory.
Actor, musician, writer and producer Donald Glover — who just wrapped up his FX series, “Atlanta” — told Vanity Fair in March Malia was part of his writing team for a new series he was developing.
In the book, Obama said the girls moved in together in 2021, finding “a grown-up place for themselves.” She was “charmed” the girls wanted to live together.
She reports about how on a video call with the girls she observed — you can almost hear the former first lady chuckle — “they got themselves a vacuum cleaner.” Once, on FaceTime with Sasha, she was distracted by Malia “running a Swiffer duster over a shelf. ... “She hadn’t yet learned to pick up or move the objects on the shelf so they could be dusted on all sides,” Obama shares.
Finally, the day came when the Obamas visited their daughters in their apartment, stopping by before going out to eat. “But first, they insisted on serving us a drink. ... Malia produced a charcuterie board she’d put together ... announcing that she’s never before understood how outrageously expensive cheese can be.”
Then, “Sasha attempted to fix us a couple of weak martinis.” Obama reveals she was a bit surprised her daughter knew how to do it. What astonished her was when the martinis arrived — in water glasses — they were placed atop newly purchased coasters so their new coffee table wouldn’t be stained.
“As Sasha set down our drinks that night, I thought about all the coasters she and her sister hadn’t bothered to use when they were under our care, all the times I’d tried to get water marks out of various tables, including at the White House.”
Obama’s most famous line is from her July 2016 Democratic convention speech, with Trump looming as Hillary Clinton’s challenger. “How we explain that when someone is cruel or acts like a bully, you don’t stoop to their level. No, our motto is, when they go low, we go high.”
And that’s how Obama ends her book, wondering, “So what about going high? Can we still? Should we still?” especially in the wake of all the grim news around us.
Obama dips into her toolbox to give us the answer. She advises, “Going high is a commitment, and not a particularly glamorous one, to keep moving forward. It only works when we do the work.”