“Dreams From My Father,” is a moving story about President Obama’s early years. It focuses on race and its inheritance. It’s the journey of a young man searching to discover himself in his roots. Along the way there are friends and challenges to stimulate him. “Dreams From My Father” is an elegant and compelling read.
Composed in 1996, Barak Obama reveals his roots, their discoveries, and the impressions left on him. The book starts with Obama as a young boy living in Hawaii with his mother and her parents. He has no memories of his father, only stories that his mother and grandparents tell. Obama comes from a mixed heritage – a white mother and a black father who lives in Kenya. His mother is open minded, idealistic, naïve in one sense, world-wise in another. His grandparents love him unconditionally. As a young boy, his mother marries a man from Indonesia and they go to live there. Obama speaks fondly of his step-father, and learns several life lessons from him, but unfortunately his mother’s relationship with his step-father doesn’t last. His mother send s him back to Hawaii to live with his grandparents so he can attend a prestigious Hawaiian school. Soon, his mother and sister go back to Hawaii, but he stays with his grandparents which give him a sense of consistency. He learns his grandfather’s strengths and weaknesses, but never really comes to see him as the father figure he’s seeking.
Obama has one encounter with his father when he’s ten in Hawaii. Obama is a little in awe, a little overwhelmed. His father’s visit isn’t long and leaves Obama with more questions than answers.
The book then moves on to cover Obama’s life in Chicago as a community organizer. It’s challenging work that is rarely rewarding, but Obama gives it his all. Then a relative from Kenya calls to tell him his father has died, but Obama’s not quite sure how to feel about that or how to react. Several weeks later, his Kenyan half-sister, Auma, makes contact with him. Auma gives him a peek into his father’s life in Kenya. Obama is intrigued by the life Auma leads and wants to learn more about their father. Before he leaves community organizing to go to Harvard Law School, he makes arrangements to visit Auma in Kenya.
In Kenya, Obama discovers a family he didn’t even know. His father had at least four wives, and Obama has a slew of brothers and sisters who are living in their father’s shadow. Obama and Auma visit with one their grandfather’s wives, “Granny.” She tells Obama’s father and grandfather stories to him. It’s a riveting tale of two people and it helps to define those aspect of Obama’s self and his heritage he was seeking.
“Dreams From My Father,” is an engrossing read. Verbose at times, Obama’s personal stories are heartwarming and easily connect with readers. The book defines the “mettle” behind a man – and a president.
Book Review for “Dreams From My Father”
Written by: Barack Obama
3 Rivers Press