Book Review: ‘Checking In’ by Michelle Williams

Vincent Anthony
5 Min Read

Checking In by Michelle Williams

Michelle Williams has been publicly advocating for mental health awareness for many years. With her debut book, Checking In: How Getting Real about Depression Saved My Life — and Can Save Yours, she takes it to the next level. Throughout the book’s 211 pages, Michelle bares her soul with endearing vulnerability. It’s a quality that anyone familiar with her knows well, and one that anyone who has struggled with depression and/or anxiety will surely appreciate. Reading Checking In, you will feel comforted and understood, never attacked or judged. Michelle is honest, but compassionate – with us, and with herself.

To promote the book, Michelle launched her own podcast, Checking In with Michelle Williamswhere she checks in with guests about mental health and other topics. In the book, however, it feels like a check in between Michelle and you, the reader. Her tone is conversational, allowing for a closeness that feels necessary considering the intimate details of her life she shares.

Checking In: Childhood to Adulthood

While Checking In may be a quick read, Michelle holds little back. While two particular life-changing check-ins inspired Michelle to take pen to paper and share her journey, her battle with depression is one she’s been fighting since middle school, she says. To give context for what transpired in July and December of 2018, Michelle works through necessary elements from her past in order to make sense of her actions. She assesses the effects of her relationships with her parents, and evaluates the impact of teenage bullies. Then, of course, she addresses being thrust into the spotlight as a member of Destiny’s Child at just 20 years old. How do fame and undiagnosed depression mix? Michelle certainly sheds light on that.

Yes, she talks Destiny’s Child, but it’s no scandalous tell-all. The stories are relevant to her personal journey with mental health. She address the group disbandment with surprising frankness, a moment when her candid vulnerability is unabashedly on display. However, as deep as Michelle gets, her humor is there. She’ll tell you how she really feels about the infamous fall on 106 & Park, she’ll tell you her thoughts about “#PoorMichelle,” and her signature clap-backs will make you “oop!”. Her quip about the success of her 2008 dance-pop album Unexpected will make you chuckle, and then go “aww.” You’ll really feel the soul and heart hiding behind her sometimes self-depreciating humor.

Checking In: Michelle Gets Real

Of course, then there’s the broken engagement. You know, the one she filmed a whole reality show about with ex-fiancee Chad Johnson. Since that was intricately connected to those two, life-changing check-ins in 2018, she naturally divulges a lot of insights into what happened there. The way in which she is able to write with such clarity about what happened is a testament to the effectiveness of the “check-in” philosophy she recommends. It’s a marvel reading 2021 Michelle share the lows that 2018 Michelle faced; the growth is so apparent.

She didn’t do it on her own though, and she gives credit where it’s due. Therapy, solid friendships and unwavering faith are all pillars holding up Michelle’s Checking In manifesto. It’s no surprise, considering she’s released three successful gospel albums, that Michelle’s book has many references to Bible scripture. With how familiar she is with them, they almost feel like anecdotes pulled her inner circle. That’s how close she keeps God. Regardless of your own religious affiliation, you’ll appreciate the wisdom imparted by the quotes Michelle selected.

Checking In: It’s Your Turn

In short, Checking In by Michelle Williams is definitely worth the read, or even a listen. If audiobooks are your thing, definitely check that out. Hearing Michelle narrating it personally adds another dimension to the book, and her hilarious little asides will brighten your day. Checking In is a self-help book: for the author, and the reader. If you’ve ever felt unsure of yourself, down and out but you couldn’t explain why, Michelle’s words in this book will inspire you to check in with yourself. But first, you’ve gotta check in with Michelle. So, get this book and begin your own journey.


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Vincent is the founder of the magazine and has had a strong passion for popular music since, well, 1997! If it's not obvious, his favorite artists include Destiny's Child, Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, P!nk, and many more. Vincent lives in New York, where he is a high school English teacher, and currently he is pursuing a Master's in Journalism at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY.