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

Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama
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bookshelves: biographical, nonfiction, philosophy, politics

3.5 stars. It’s difficult for me to rate this memoir because I deeply respect Barack Obama as a person. This comes at a time of deep division in the country and he remains widely appreciated by many yet politically ostracized by some. His legacy has greatly improved the lives of millions of people, but his politics leaves much to be desired. He has undeniably shaped my world views and I have come to regard him as one of the most intelligent men to ever hold that office. Dreams From My Father feels too personal, almost like I have invaded a distant corner of his heart that he has kept hidden away for too long. But he writes in descriptive, eloquent prose that is both reflective and serene.

“The pain I felt was my father’s pain. My questions were my brothers’ questions. Their struggle, my birthright.”

Dreams From My Father describes Obama’s early experiences that influence his path into the political arena. Growing up as a mixed black man raised by a white mother and grandparents and essentially abandoned by his Kenyan father, he struggles to find his identity. This “black man with a funny name” can’t seem to find his niche amidst a world engulfed in superficiality. He is not white enough for white America but he isn’t quite black enough for black America. This desire to find himself in a confusing society dominated by race relations affects his decision to become a community organizer in an underprivileged Chicago neighborhood and eventually travel to Kenya to understand his African heritage.

Although he never really gets the opportunity to understand his father in the way that I think most young men want to, he realizes his father’s greatest mistake--the loss in faith. With great power comes great responsibility and the most dangerous consequence of all is losing faith in people.

“And for lack of faith you clung to both too much and too little of your past. Too much of its rigidness, its suspicions, its male cruelties. Too little of the laughter in Granny’s voice, the pleasures of company while herding the goats, the murmur of the market, the stories around the fire.”

By the end you see this man for what seems to have defined the core part of his life--compassion for people. He is the reflective intellectual who organizes at the grassroots level. He is the dreamer who believes in the power of people to bring about unprecedented change. His idealism and goodness are antithetical to the seemingly prevalent corruption we see through his eyes, but they are the ideals that eventually guide him to pursue a law degree and embark on his journey into politics.
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Reading Progress

November 16, 2016 – Shelved
November 16, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
November 24, 2016 – Started Reading
December 23, 2016 –
December 23, 2016 – Shelved as: biographical
December 23, 2016 – Shelved as: nonfiction
December 23, 2016 – Shelved as: philosophy
December 23, 2016 – Shelved as: politics
December 23, 2016 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)

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PattyMacDotComma Nice review, Tanima, and you don't need to apologise for perhaps admiring the man more than this particular memoir. I know it's hard for me to give a low rating to a book by an author I really like, but at least Obama is known for more than being an author, and you gave him credit for that.

He is certainly a remarkable fellow.

Tanima Thank you, Patty. I completely agree. I hope he will write more in the future after his presidency.

message 3: by Gertrud (new)

Gertrud Martin Thanks, in particular for the 2nd quote and your comment on it.

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