Trena's Reviews > Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama
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Jan 21, 2009

it was amazing
Read in January, 2009

I resisted reading this book for a long time based solely on the title. I hated to think that our President(!!!!-happy day today) would have fantasies about his absent father and imagine him to be all that is good and just in the world while ignoring or perhaps even resenting his mother, the one who actually raised him and was there through all the dirty diapers, report cards, and snotty noses. However, I did intend to read it eventually so when one of my book clubs chose it I checked it out.

In the preface, Obama says that his mother died a few months before the book was published, and had she been gone while he was writing the book would have been very different. Unfortunately for the literary world, he won't have time to write about his mother anytime soon; I would really like to read that book someday. But this statement helped explain the title and softened me a bit.

When I finally got into the book I totally got into it. It's incredibly well-written, readable, and interesting. It gives a window into the state of American race relations from the perspective of someone who both belongs and doesn't belong to several different worlds. The journey of self-discovery is poignant but not self-indulgent. I would have enjoyed the book as much (though probably not felt as emotional about it) had he just been a random writer, and not the President-Elect.

I was so happy while reading the book that we are getting a President who *understands* sh!t. He lived in an Islamic 3rd world country as a boy; we have NEVER had a President who has that real-life experience, and plus the intelligence and insight to integrate that experience into his policy views.

I was eating this book up while reading but too embarrassed to be seen reading it in public because I felt like I was late to the party, LOL. I'm so glad I finally did. I pushed through to finish it before the Inauguration and it made the moment that much more special to feel like I "knew" the man standing up there being sworn in by word-fumbling John Roberts. If you haven't read it, read it. In addition to just being a good book, it's a really unique opportunity to get a view of the real person behind the Presidential image.
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04/18 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Beth (new) - added it

Beth Thank you for this review. I have resisted reading it because it just seemed too "LOOK AT ME, I'M THE BLACK PRESIDENT-ELECT, READ ABOUT ME" and I didn't want to fall into the trap. I failed to realize that it really is a personal story, of a real man. And I wondered how much was really written my Obama and how much was just political pandering by a ghost author. I have now added this to my "to read" shelf. He's a very personable and engaging speaker, I don't know why I expected his writing to be less so.


message 2: by Carrie (new)

Carrie I just started reading it yesterday - and was totally impressed by the first few pages. You don't expect a political figure to be such a good writer (and I hear that it wasn't ghost written at all). So far I am really into it - I might get The Audacity of Hope next!


Trena Beth, I think you'll really like it. He wrote it many years ago, about 13 at this point I think, shortly after graduating from law school. Now, I don't think anybody accidentally ends up in politics so I'm sure at that time he had some inkling he might run for some office in the future and might have been circumspect in his writing so as not to jeopardize a political future, but it's *definitely* not political pandering. Much more a meditation on race and identity.



Trena Carrie, glad you're enjoying it! I have to see, I didn't enjoy The Audacity of Hope nearly as much. It's a political/policy treatise, not a personal story. As far as policy treatises go it's very good, but that kind of thing doesn't really float my boat.




message 5: by Grace (new)

Grace Compare and contrast with the son who NEVER visited China while his dad was ambassador to China. Never showed an iota of curiousity.


message 6: by Judy (last edited Jan 23, 2009 06:52PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy Cox Trena, I'm so glad to have your take on this book. You are exactly right. It is very much a meditation on race and identity. That Obama was able to emerge from his unusual and I would say, difficult background, so centered and deep, is pretty amazing. The book really gives a good sense of who Barack Obama is and one can't help but be impressed with the man.
Having read Dreams From My Father, I didn't rush to read The Audacity of Hope because I felt I already knew his story and I also felt it would be heavy on policy and politics, which sometimes bore me. But I recently added it to my "to read" shelf because he is such a fascinating person that I do not think I would easily tire of anything he has to say on any subject. Plus you gave the book four stars and that's good enough for me!


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