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

Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama
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Read 2 times. Last read August 22, 2016.

The book would have been so much better had it been written today. There are rumors online about the book being ghostwritten. The voice of the writer changes throughout the book leaving the reader wonder what the emphasis of the book is about – Struggle with bi-racial identity? Illusion of the father-figure who barely knew?

The book begins with a detailed descriptive of Barack Obama's childhood and “white” side of family. The incredible open-mindedness and kindness of his maternal grandparents, his mother’s emphasis on education, and the relationship between all of them – a half African American boy in a Caucasian family is written well and the suspense is held till the end of the first part where it is revealed what makes his grandfather "Gramps" the liberal man that he is.

What follows in the first part and the second part of the book are the hardest to read. Though I understand the dilemma and struggle with identity, reading through his journey of mental conflicts and how it affects his relationships with his African American friends is hard to relate to. It later progresses to his early work experience which is a worthy read. Obviously this book will be a disappointment for anyone seeking to read about struggles of people from mixed cultures or for political inspiration. Both these areas seem “unfinished” in the book. The only complete story is his unresolved relationship with his father and his African family. Little is spoken about his mother’s other marriages and mother’s other children.

The last part – where he travels to Kenya and discovers further about his father and extended family is the most riveting part of the book. The extended family gives him a warm welcome, a few of them are eager to meet him more out of curiosity than affection and others are seeking to draw him to favor them and extend his support to them. While there are a large number of half-siblings from his father’s other wives and their remarriages, his “other” mothers- none of whom expect him to extend support or question his claim in the petty inheritance, an alien to the equation – his father’s sister tries to convince him that he should help her.

This was the most rewarding part of the book for me, personally. He immediately gives her money and leaves. The way in which this minor incident in the book was written suggests how petty this outrageous claim and person is to him. It immediately reminded me of my father’s words to me, “Forgive, be magnanimous, don’t take their mistakes seriously.” Forgiveness has been a journey of self-discovery for me. Especially when it relates to your father and his death, it doesn’t come easily. While Obama was eventually able to understand the old man’s actions, forgives and find closure when he goes this father’s and grandfather’s grave, I could relate to Auma and Roy, his half siblings. They didn’t have the comfort of long distance that “Barry” Obama had. Though both Auma and Roy have difficulty in easing their pains by forgiving everyone, Obama makes a remark- which is the second most rewarding take away for me in this book. He says Auma has a progressive way of dealing with the pain. She seeks to go away from it, is thankful for her education and buries herself in her work in Europe while Roy suffers by carrying the clouds of pain, blame and anger and fails in career and life.

The book ends with Obama’s marriage where he notes happily that Roy has changed for the better - yet another indication of his natural leadership trait long before he became President- to not only forgive but also derive happiness in seeing his people succeed.
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Quotes bladenomics Liked

Barack Obama
“Still, I strongly resisted the idea of offering up my past in a book, a past that left me feeling exposed, even slightly ashamed.”
Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

Barack Obama
“Chicago, a town that’s accustomed to its racial wounds and prides itself on a certain lack of sentiment.”
Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

Barack Obama
“Finally, there are the dangers inherent in any autobiographical work: the temptation to color events in ways favorable to the writer, the tendency to overestimate the interest one’s experiences hold for others,”
Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

Barack Obama
“I was impatient in those days, busy with work and unrealized plans, and prone to see other people as unnecessary distractions.”
Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

Barack Obama
“But it’s just that he is basically a very honest person. That makes him uncompromising sometimes.”
Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

Barack Obama
“Later, when I became more familiar with the narrower path to happiness to be found in television and the movies, I’d become troubled by questions.”
Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

Barack Obama
“He would always be like that, my grandfather, always searching for that new start, always running away from the familiar. By the time the family arrived in Hawaii, his character would have been fully formed, I think—the generosity and eagerness to please, the awkward mix of sophistication and provincialism, the rawness of emotion that could make him at once tactless and easily bruised.”
Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

Barack Obama
“the world was shrinking, sympathies changing;”
Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

Barack Obama
“How could America send men into space and still keep its black citizens in bondage?”
Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

Barack Obama
“And you won’t have to wake up at four in the morning,” she said, a point that I found most compelling.”
Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

Barack Obama
“When Sadik lost his own lease, we moved in together. And after a few months of closer scrutiny, he began to realize that the city had indeed had an effect on me, although not the one he’d expected. I stopped getting high. I ran three miles a day and fasted on Sundays. For the first time in years, I applied myself to my studies and started keeping a journal of daily reflections and very bad poetry.”
Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

Barack Obama
“Well, amigo … you can talk all you want about saving the world, but this city tends to eat away at such noble sentiments.”
Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

Barack Obama
“What had Frank called college? An advanced degree in compromise.”
Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

Barack Obama
“A healthy, dose of guilt never hurt anybody. It’s what civilization was built on, guilt. A highly underrated emotion.”
Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

Barack Obama
“I had given her a reassuring smile and patted her hand and told her not to worry, I wouldn’t do anything stupid. It was usually an effective tactic, another one of those tricks I had learned: People were satisfied so long as you were courteous and smiled and made no sudden moves.”
Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

Barack Obama
“And if the high didn’t solve whatever it was that was getting you down, it could at least help you laugh at the world’s ongoing folly and see through all the hypocrisy and bullshit and cheap moralism.”
Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

Barack Obama
“I was intrigued by old Frank, with his books and whiskey breath and the hint of hard-earned knowledge behind the hooded eyes.”
Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

Barack Obama
“Don’t be thick, all right? I’m not just talking about one time. Look, I ask Monica out, she says no. I say okay … your shit’s not so hot anyway.”
Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

Barack Obama
“In return, I gave him a sounding board for his frustrations.”
Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

Barack Obama
“The emotions between the races could never be pure; even love was tarnished by the desire to find in the other some element that was missing in ourselves.”
Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

Barack Obama
“It’s sad to say, but as much as I cared for the Old Man, and worried about him, I was glad not to have to live with him. I just left him to himself and never looked back.”
Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

Barack Obama
“We have our own ways, our own memories, and what has happened between all of us is hard to undo.”
Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

Barack Obama
“I don’t think I really like myself. And I blame the Old Man for this.”
Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

Barack Obama
“the resilience they had both displayed, the same stubborn strength that had lifted them out of bad circumstances. Except in Auma I had also sensed a willingness to put the past behind her, a capacity to somehow forgive, if not necessarily forget.”
Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

Barack Obama
“I couldn’t rid myself of the sense that Roy was in danger somehow, that old demons were driving him toward an abyss, and that if only I was a better brother, my intervention would prevent his fall.”
Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

Barack Obama
“Everything is organized. If something is broken, I fix it. If something goes wrong, it’s my own fault. If I have it, I send money to the family, and they can do with it what they want, and I won’t depend on them, and they won’t depend on me.”
Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

Barack Obama
“The people back home, they didn’t even know anyone else who had ridden in an airplane before. So they expected everything from him. ‘Ah, Barack, you are a big shot now. You should give me something. You should help me.’ Always these pressures from family. And he couldn’t say no, he was so generous. You”
Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

Barack Obama
“These others, they have treated you badly. They are just too lazy to work for themselves.’ And you know what he would say to me? He would say, ‘How do you know that man does not need this small thing more than me?”
Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

Barack Obama
“If you have something, then everyone will want a piece of it. So you have to draw the line somewhere. If everyone is family, no one is family. Your father, he never understood this, I think.”
Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

Barack Obama
“What’s certain is that I don’t need the stress.”
Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance


Reading Progress

August 13, 2016 – Started Reading (Kindle Edition)
August 13, 2016 –
5.0% (Kindle Edition)
August 13, 2016 – Shelved (Kindle Edition)
August 15, 2016 –
9.0% (Kindle Edition)
August 15, 2016 –
18.0% (Kindle Edition)
August 16, 2016 –
26.0% (Kindle Edition)
August 16, 2016 –
29.0% (Kindle Edition)
August 21, 2016 – Finished Reading (Kindle Edition)
Started Reading
August 22, 2016 – Finished Reading
August 24, 2016 – Shelved

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