24 June 2009 ~ 0 Comments

(Book) Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama

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I will admit that I hadn’t heard of the author until his big speech and have obviously followed his career thus far. He is a wonderful speaker and make people want to listen to him. Gorgeous and amazing. I wasn’t sure what to expect from his writing, but I was hoping it would be good.

This far surpassed my hopes. His writing is gorgeous, it has a certain flow to it that makes you want to slow down and really follow what he is saying and why. And his story is one worthy of being told. Not only do we learn about his early life and his start into the political arena, we also get to watch him go on this pilgrimage of self-discovery.

Throughout the book I did ask myself “what about his mom and grandparents?” He seemed to gloss over some of that. It seems that they worked hard to give him what they did. I lived in Hawaii myself for several years and I know how hard it is to live there. His family seemed decidedly middle class. I was disappointed to not hear more about those people in his life. He did talk about it a good bit, but I wanted to hear a little more.

Because of this, the title can be a puzzler, but for me, I think he was chasing those dreams. As someone who had only met his father for a brief period of time, he had his own ideas of who his father was, perhaps dreamed about what it would be like to be with him. I felt his going to see his family was more about trying to learn how much of that was his own dreams and how much was built in reality.

The trip itself was interesting. I was intrigued that he didn’t seem to hold back about his family and was honest about the good and the bad.

Read this, no matter what your political leanings are, (this was written over a decade ago) you will probably enjoy this if you are into memoirs or tales of self-discovery – or if you want to be mesmerized by the beautiful prose.

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Synopsis

Years before becoming the 44th President-elect of the United States, Barack Obama published this lyrical, unsentimental, and powerfully affecting memoir, which became a #1 New York Times bestseller when it was reissued in 2004. Dreams from My Father tells the story of Obama’s struggle to understand the forces that shaped him as the son of a black African father and white American mother—a struggle that takes him from the American heartland to the ancestral home of his great-aunt in the tiny African village of Alego.

Obama opens his story in New York, where he hears that his father—a figure he knows more as a myth than as a man—has died in a car accident. The news triggers a chain of memories as Barack retraces his family’s unusual history: the migration of his mother’s family from small-town Kansas to the Hawaiian islands; the love that develops between his mother and a promising young Kenyan student, a love nurtured by youthful innocence and the integrationist spirit of the early sixties; his father’s departure from Hawaii when Barack was two, as the realities of race and power reassert themselves; and Barack’s own awakening to the fears and doubts that exist not just between the larger black and white worlds but within himself.

Propelled by a desire to understand both the forces that shaped him and his father’s legacy, Barack moves to Chicago to work as a community organizer. There, against the backdrop of tumultuous political and racial conflict, he works to turn back the mounting despair of the inner city. His story becomes one with those of thepeople he works with as he learns about the value of community, the necessity of healing old wounds, and the possibility of faith in the midst of adversity.

Barack’s journey comes full circle in Kenya, where he finally meets the African side of his family and confronts the bitter truth of his father’s life. Traveling through a country racked by brutal poverty and tribal conflict, but whose people are sustained by a spirit of endurance and hope, Barack discovers that he is inescapably bound to brothers and sisters living an ocean away—and that by embracing their common struggles he can finally reconcile his divided inheritance.

A searching meditation on the meaning of identity in America, Dreams from My Father might be the most revealing portrait we have of a major American leader—a man who is playing the most prominent role in healing a fractious and fragmented nation.

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