Amy Reads Books

Dreams from My Father

Dreams from My Father - Barack Obama Barack Obama's election is what inspired me to read International Relations & Politics at university, and he remains an incredibly inspiring person to me and I have everything crossed that he'll get to stay in the White House for four more years. These feelings have only increased since I read Dreams from My Father, his memoir of his youth and search for identity.It is pretty unavoidable to know that Obama is a pretty good public speaker, and that his speeches tend to be very strong from a technical point. This charisma and writing skill are both present throughout Dreams from My Father, which is really brilliantly written. The book moves forward with some pace, despite pauses to consider some hefty issues of race and poverty-especially when Obama begins working in Chicago.One of the best thing about this book is Obama's honesty throughout. He does not shy away from presenting his younger self with flaws, as he struggled to work out what to do with his life, and nor does he insist on portraying his childhood through rose-tinted glasses. Those around him are also portrayed with flaws, rather than being portrayed as being totally positive or totally negative influences in his life. I know I finished the book with massive respect for his mother, who seemed like she was a really incredible person. It is true that Obama's youth is less than usual; being born in Hawaii, then moving to Indonesia, back to Hawaii and then to New York, followed by Chicago. This eventful youth makes the book more compelling than the 'average' treatise on race and identity. That being said, Obama's musings on those are incredibly interesting and manage to discuss sensitive topics really deeply. I found the entire section of the novel set in Kenya, when Obama travels out there to meet his father's family really moving-and I really liked Auma, his half sister. Another thing that Obama deals with really well is the search for religion, which seemed to take something of a back seat during his youth, and whilst he has now had to distance himself from Reverend Wright for political reasons, the story of him finding his faith was also really interesting, and managed to escape the 'I think this and so should you' aspects of some books where this is discussed (here's looking at you Eat Pray Love). I feel like I should probably stop gushing about how much I love this book, but it gave a really human face to one of the world's most powerful figures and is really beautifully written. You don't have to be a fan of politics or Obama's politics to get something out of this book, as it is really a book that explores issues of identity, belonging and family. It's really, really good.