You'd be forgiven for thinking you know every last detail about former president Barack Obama's life.
Between the memoirs (his pre-presidency books Dreams from My Father and The Audacity of Hope and Michelle Obama's 2018 read, Becoming), the high-profile interviews and eight years living under the brightest spotlight that exists in the Western hemisphere, one would think we'd eagerly consumed every last anecdote out there about the onetime commander-in-chief, his even more popular bride and their daughters Malia Obama, 22, and Sasha Obama, 19. (Especially now that the world's most famous elementary schoolers are somehow full-on adults with access to TikTok and friends with bands to promote.)
And yet Barack—smack dab in the middle of his second act as a Netflix employee and hype man for his second-in-command, President-elect Joe Biden—left a little juice for A Promised Land, his third memoir in 25 years.
To say we were shocked by his confession that his enviable marriage was rocked by his 2009-2017 stint in the White House is a severe understatement. But here was the Harvard grad admitting that all that scrutiny was a lot for even the most rock-solid of unions to withstand.
"Despite Michelle's success and popularity, I continued to sense an undercurrent of tension in her, subtle but constant, like the faint thrum of a hidden machine," he wrote of how holding the most high-profile of gigs affected their marriage. "It was as if, confined as we were within the walls of the White House, all her previous sources of frustration became more concentrated, more vivid, whether it was my round the clock absorption with work, or the way politics exposed our family to scrutiny and attacks, or the tendency of even friends and family members to treat her role as secondary in importance."
There were more than a few nights, he continued, in which "lying next to Michelle in the dark, I'd think about those days when everything between us felt lighter, when her smile was more constant and our love less encumbered, and my heart would suddenly tighten at the thought that those days might not return."
Though, as evidenced by their recent anniversary tweets, Barack crediting his First Lady with making him "a better husband, a better father, and a better human," and Michelle responding that she was "so grateful to have him as a partner through everything life throws at us," they've returned back to their loved-up former selves.
While every page of Barack's Nov. 17 release is worthy of scrutiny—the politician digging deep into an adolescence spent grappling with his racial identity, his meteoric rise through politics and the divisiveness that has seeped into Washington, D.C.—we here at E! News are most interested in dissecting the bits about his accomplished, tight-knit, impossibly photogenic fam. Really what else did you expect?
So starting with that first meeting that saw the bold law student hit on his boss to the habit that drove her mad, here are the reveals that kept us hooked through all 768 pages.
—Reporting by Beth Sobol