Review: Dreams from My Father (Barack Obama)

20100128 Obama
Difficult to add any enlightened review of a book read by so many. I enjoyed reading this pre-candidate autobiography, perhaps because of my personal hobby of genealogy. Obama provides insights to his personality, through the story of his own family history, which spans several continents and cultures.

To pick just one episode, as a school-age boy, he met his father for the first time (after some years of separation). Obama was embarrassed by bravado of the Old Man, and just wanted to get along, not stand out, among his childhood peers. Only later did his father’s demeanour and behaviour intrigue him to discover more.

Brought forward, Obama recalls a trip that he and his sister Auma made, while in Kenya, to visit their father’s youngest child, George:

“From the car, we watched George return to his friends, quickly indistinguishable from the others with round heads and knobby knees who were chasing a scuffed football through the grass. I found myself suddenly remembering then my first meeting with the Old Man, the fear and discomfort that his presence had caused me, forcing me for the first time to consider the mystery of my own life. And I took comfort in the fact that perhaps one day, when he was older, George, too, might want to know who his father had been, and who his brothers and sisters were, and that if he ever came to me I would be there for him, to tell him the story I knew.”

Obama could have as easily been talking about his own children. Thus, he comes full circle with his father-son relationship, and is ready for the next generation. Otherwise known as signs of adulthood and maturity.

And that is why I enjoyed Dreams from my Father. Coming-of-age books are good reads, all the better when written with such sincerity. Let us see more of them.

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