361 of 467 people found the following review helpful
What about Mom?
, April 16, 2007
This review is from: Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance (Hardcover)
Barack Obama is obviously an articulate, intelligent man; but his "story of race and inheritance" may leave readers scratching their heads at times. The story of his life, the son of a Kenyan man and a white woman who divorced when he was a young child, is atypical. His father, an extremely book smart man, polygamist, big talker and eventually sometimes embarrassment to the family who was known as the Old Man to his many children, seems an unlikely source of the "dreams" of which the title speaks. The author met his father but once, when he was ten years old. Dr. Barack Obama was already married (p 422) when he met his namesake's mother while studying in the States. He returned to Africa alone, married again (and again) and had more children. His mother then married (and later divorced) an Indonesian man and they moved to Djakarta, where he spent his early years until moving in with his maternal grandparents in Hawaii. He ended up in Chicago, where he signed on to help organize African-Americans to work together to gain funding for projects to improve the quality of their lives and those of their children. Three years and much success (after a bumpy start) later, he headed off to graduate school, but not before finally attending services at a large, popular, local church. Readers may wonder if, during the several page section rounding out Part 2 (Chicago), he may have experienced some sort of spiritual awakening: the signs pointing ambiguously to "maybe," making one wonder why the event was included at all. The latter thirty percent of the book covers his first trip to Kenya (his father having already passed away) and his interactions with a convoluted web of relatives: aunts, uncles, cousins, and half and step siblings: the details of which, although unusual, will probably be of no more interest to readers than the tales of their own genealogical connections (a family tree would have been clarifying). Although Dreams From My Father is a good story about a smart, well-intentioned, accomplished man (with complicated family connections) who has lived an interesting life, its hard not to question his focus on his (absent) father in lieu of his mother.
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