The cover of Michelle Obama‘s new memoir, Becoming, features a photo of the former first lady sporting a warm smile and a laid-back, off-the-shoulder blouse — and the book’s contents are just as candid.
In Becoming, Mrs. Obama, 54, opens up like never before about her childhood on the South Side of Chicago, her romance with her husband, former President Barack Obama, 57, and their life before and after the White House.
“My husband is making his own adjustments to life after the White House, catching his own breath,” she writes. “And here I am, in this new place, with a lot I want to say.”
And speak she does. From marital rough patches and fertility struggles, to her feelings about her husband’s successor, President Donald Trump, here are the biggest revelations from the former first lady’s memoir, book tour and exclusive at-home interview with PEOPLE.
She’s still not allowed to drive herself.
“No driving for me,” Mrs. Obama told PEOPLE in an exclusive, at-home interview. “We still live in a bubble.” Instead, she is driven around by Secret Service.
“If we had a farm somewhere, maybe I could drive around it,” she explained, but acknowledged that the package bomb discovered on Oct. 24 in her husband’s mail drove home the need for continued security. “As we’ve seen, the risks are still there.”
The former first lady is cool with an empty nest.
Mrs. Obama told PEOPLE that she is not weepy over her daughters (Malia, 20, and Sasha, 17) leaving home for college “because I also have the resources that if I really get sad, I’ll go see them.”
She continued, “Unlike my parents, who dropped me off at college and just had a phone call, I text with my kids. I can text [Malia] right this second and know exactly what she’s thinking. I don’t feel like she’s away, I feel like she’s off on her next adventure, so I’m excited about her.
“I don’t need my children to make me happy. I had them so that they’d happy,” she adds.
Why she ‘sobbed for 30 minutes’ after leaving the White House.
In a conversation with Oprah Winfrey about Becoming, Mrs. Obama shared that she broke down crying on the Air Force jet right after she and her husband departed the inauguration of President Donald Trump — an anecdote she didn’t share in her book.
“When I got on the plane I think I sobbed for 30 minutes,” she said at the event kicking off her book tour, according to USA Today. “And I think it was just the release of eight years of trying to do everything perfectly. I said to Barack, ‘That was so hard. What we just did that was so hard and I’ve wanted to say that for eight years.’ “
For the full Michelle Obama interview, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on stands now.
The Obamas are rediscovering romance after leaving the White House.
“We are finding each other again,” Mrs. Obama told PEOPLE about her post-White House life. “We have dinners alone and chunks of time where it’s just us — what we were when we started this thing: no kids, no publicity, no nothing. Just us and our dreams.”
The former first lady went on to reminisce about the couple’s recent getaway to Palm Springs — without their daughters — which marked “the first time in a long time it was just the two of us.”
She and the former president have gone to a marriage counselor.
“I know too many young couples who struggle and think that somehow there’s something wrong with them,” Mrs. Obama said during a GMA interview about her decision to share that she and her husband have visited a marriage counselor. “And I want them to know that Michelle and Barack Obama, who have a phenomenal marriage and who love each other, we work on our marriage. And we get help with our marriage when we need it.”
Mrs. Obama suffered a miscarriage 20 years ago.
In a recent primetime ABC News special, the former first lady got candid with Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts, recalling the pain and isolation she endured after suffering a miscarriage nearly 20 years ago.
“I felt lost and alone and I felt like I failed,” she said in a clip from Becoming Michelle: A First Lady’s Journey with Robin Roberts, in which Mrs. Obama expands on topics explored in her book.
At the time, Mrs. Obama and her husband were trying to start a family and she was feeling the pressure of her ticking “biological clock,” she told Roberts. Eventually, Mrs. Obama turned to in vitro fertilization (IVF) in order to conceive the couple’s two daughters.
Michelle Obama Tells Oprah Why She ‘Sobbed for 30 Minutes’ After Leaving the White House
She fumes that Donald Trump’s birther lies endangered Sasha and Malia.
In her memoir, she writes that she’ll “never forgive” Trump for stirring up the false birther movement in 2011, thereby endangering her daughters, Sasha and Malia.
“What if someone with an unstable mind loaded a gun and drove to Washington? What if that person went looking for our girls?” she writes. “Donald Trump, with his loud and reckless innuendos, was putting my family’s safety at risk. And for this, I’d never forgive him.”