When I first saw Dreams from My Father in the local library, I was hiding out in the young adult section—quiet and empty in the early morning hours. I was on a timeline and didn’t want to be interrupted, but each time I looked up from the computer, the photos on the book’s cover seemed to be staring at me from the shelf. When I finally relented and got up to flip through the pages, I was hooked. Yet that evening as I began reading it, I soon realized that I wanted more—the adult version, more complete, detailed, and descriptive. I ordered the Kindle edition and began reading right away.
Below is my review on Amazon.
“Already an admirer, my respect for Barack Obama grew immensely while reading this book. Not only is he a skilled and gifted writer, he’s also a storyteller with a mind for details and flair for engaging the reader. His descriptions of an African dawn: “To the east, the sky lightens above a black grove of trees, deep blue, then orange, then creamy yellow. The clouds lose their purple tint slowly, then dissipate, leaving behind a single star. As we pull out of camp, we see a caravan of giraffe, their long necks at a common slant, seemingly black before the rising red sun, strange marking against an ancient sky.”
“It’s a book about race, yes, but it’s also about family, inheritance, culture, background and how those factors (and more) combine to make us who we are. While most people know Obama’s father was Kenyan and his mother an American from Kansas, most don’t know that much about how they met and later parted ways, his Indonesian stepfather, his white grandparents, Toot and Gramps, with whom he lived in Hawaii during his youth….I’m no biographer, but I do know that Obama’s life was much more complicated than mine.
“How?” ran like a thread through each chapter I read. How does a person develop the strength, capacity, confidence, and character to serve as the President of the United States? It’s an office available to only one person at a time and one that had never been open to a person of color. Learning about his experiences with his family of orientation, especially his grandparents, his time in Indonesia, his college years, the devoted years as a community organizer, and his time spent in Kenya becoming acquainted with brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and a grandparent added additional pieces to the puzzle.
“What the book did was remind me once again of how many ways there are to live, love, and serve as we navigate our ways through life. There are no shortcuts to excellence.”