In this lyrical, unsentimental, and compelling memoir, the son of a black African father and a white American mother searches for a workable meaning to his life as a black American. It begins in New York, where Barack Obama learns that his father—a figure he knows more as a myth than as a man—has been killed in a car accident. This sudden death inspires an emotional odyssey—first to a small town in Kansas, from which he retraces the migration of his mother’s family to Hawaii, and then to Kenya, where he meets the African side of his family, confronts the bitter truth of his father’s life, and at last reconciles his divided inheritance.
It's always crazy to me how the timing on some things comes together because of happenstance. I have been wanting to read this for awhile. I bought it for my Dad for Christmas many years ago, but I don't think he ever read it. Last year, I almost took it back so I could read it, but I restrained myself. Then earlier this year, I made a trade at the local used bookstore for this audiobook. I love audiobooks, and was excited to snatch this up when I saw it.
The audiobook sat on my shelf for months.
Then, about two weeks ago, I finished listening to an audiobook I unfortunately didn't like. So the question of what I should listen to next was even more loaded -- I did not want to strike out twice. I saw this on my shelf and decided to go for it.
There is so much to love about this story. What absolutely made this for me was that Obama read it. I always love listening to him speak. I've heard him tell a lot of stories about people he has met, so it was so nice to hear him tell his own story. This audiobook won a Grammy for "Best Spoken Word" and it was well deserved. He did a great job of imitating the voices of all the men and women in his life.
Dreams From My Father had the same beautiful writing and lyrical quality of his speeches. Some sentences gave me the chills because they were so lovely. He is very good at setting a scene -- describing the people and the setting. I didn't actually know his story; all I knew was that he was born in Hawaii. But I really enjoyed seeing the lives of his parents and grandparents. He was able to get into his family's heads and emotions so well.
I am not going to get political on here, but I did want to tell you why I started this post talking about timing: because the day after I started listening to this book was November 9, 2016.
A fun bonus of this CD was Obama's 2004 DNC keynote, which I also hadn't heard before. It was an add-on to the audiobook, but the speech started with summarizing everything I'd just listened to. As such, it made for a great transition out of the story of his past and into the now.
This is just a good story; no matter what your race, political affiliation, or thoughts on the Obama Presidency, I think there is something to take away from Dreams from My Father.