In her new book, The Light We Carry, Michelle Obama shares advice on surviving hard times, and tells the media that daughters Sasha and Malia have a right to privacy and "are not social media stars".

In her new book, The Light We Carry, former First Lady Michelle Obama bares her soul, recalls moments that shaped her life in and out of the White House —including the difficult early months of the pandemic— and shares advice on how to stay balanced in an ever-changing and at times scary world.

"I wrote the book for anyone who feels a little isolated, or frustrated, or overwhelmed by all crises we are seeing in the news and on social media—from the pandemic that shut down our world to the murder of George Floyd to ongoing attacks on our democracy. There's no denying that we've all felt a little lost or untethered," Obama, 58, tells People en Español. "We've all wondered how we can regain some stability. This book is my attempt to share what's given me that stability during times of change and difficulty throughout my life."

Michelle Obama
Michelle Obama
| Credit: Miller Mobley

What was the hardest truth she shared about herself and her family in this follow-up to her best-selling memoir, Becoming, out this week?

"I don't want this to seem like a cop out, but it's never hard for me to share truth because it is what it is. So I struggle to answer that because I think I've said it all," she says. "It is hard for me to delve too deeply, for example, into the lessons I've learned as a parent because I'm trying to protect the privacy of my girls [Malia, 24; and Sasha, 21]. You have to pull back on how much you share about their lives and how much you put them back out in the public eye because they're not looking for the attention."

If she writes about them in the book —in passages both young women read prior to publication— it's because Obama wants to help others. "My only examples are in my own parenting. So I find that to be a constant struggle of give and take," she shares. "How much do I tell so that the media understands that my girls are not asking to be in the limelight?"

And she adds, emphatically: "They are not social media stars. They are not looking to be followed by the paparazzi just because their mom wrote a book, but that's a delicate balance that you have to strike. And I hope the media hears me when I am saying this: They are not seeking the light in this regard".

Michelle Obama, Barach Obama
Credit: Lawrence Jackson

In her new memoir, Obama talks candidly about her early years in Chicago, her loving partnership with Barack Obama —she shares special moments like the time they celebrated a wedding anniversary in Honolulu where he surprised her with a live band playing on a rooftop terrace— and the work that has gone into building her life as she knows it today. Also in the book: how a "kitchen table" of trusted friends and mentors have sustained; how her mother Marian Shields Robinson moved in with her, the former President and their daughters to Washington D.C. and helped her make the White House seem like a home. She also shares how she kept busy during the early months of the pandemic —knitting, watching television shows, spending time with loved ones, shopping online— all the while sharing hard-earned wisdom to empower others to work through their fears and live in the light.

Michelle Obama libro
Credit: Foto: Miller Mobley; Diseño: Christopher Brand; Estilista: Meredith Koop; Sastre: Christy Rilling; Peinado: Yene Damtew; Maquillaje: Carl Ray

And like any mom, she gushes about her daughters in the 318-page book and to People en Español: "My kids. I mean, I don't want to be too cliche, but I love those two," she says. "I love the women they've become, and I'm proud of the family that Barack and I have built together. It's not the accomplishments in the White House, but that we survived it whole and intact and in love. That's a huge achievement."

As she wrote the book over the past couple of years, Obama had a reader in mind —and it wasn't just a young person or college student looking for advice. "I think all of us have been asking a lot of questions that don't always have quick answers", she says. "As for my intent, I do think my goal remained the same in the time between writing and publishing this book. Of course, there have been a few more unsettling events since I started writing—more moments that shook us—and I think we've all continued to ask ourselves the same questions through it all. How do we find our strength? What can we lean on? Is it even possible to keep going high?"

"My hope is that this book includes ideas that will stand the test of time, so no matter what's going on in your life, or what's going on in the world," she says, "you can look at each chapter as a resource as you navigate uncertain moments."