“You know, with social justice, as much as I get criticism about my book, I think that if you make a mistake, or if it’s a failure, or if there are truths that you speak that are unpopular, you can learn from that.” These were the words of Michelle Obama, a strong and compassionate leader, when asked in March 2016 about the end of her eight-year tenure as first lady. “I wanted so badly to show young girls from Chicago that you don’t have to go to elite schools to have a seat at the table, you don’t have to wait on your life to have a piece of the American Dream, that you could build it and get a job and you can do anything you put your mind to.” This was part of what Michelle Obama called her “rope of hope” speech — the notion that racial and economic injustice existed at all scales of society and that, by assiduously working at their collective back, people of different backgrounds could achieve the goals of racial equality and economic equality in America.

Of course, former first lady Michelle Obama never lived a life that was based on the “ladders of poverty,” as Maya Angelou once famously noted. What the memoir strikes me as embodying is a kind of love of her children, her husband and her neighbor, herself and what she represents in terms of service, dignity and purpose. This and this is part of what draws people to her — a warmth that melds together reality, outwardly defined by the glossy features of an immensely attractive and talented black woman, and heart of a woman who struggles in real life, but also recognizes the beauty of the difficult struggles around us, and knows how to radiate that, as well.