Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Stories Of My Father

I just finished reading Senator Obama's book Dreams From My Father. He wrote it about 15 years ago, and the edition I checked out from the library came out after he'd been elected to the Senate for the first time. I must say that this is the only book I've read by someone running for president, ever.

The book is not about his ambition to be politician. I think that's why I feel like Obama's not power-hungry, though that can't possibly be true since he is, after all, running for "the most powerful position on the planet." It's about his journey of self-identity, figuring out who he is, not just as an interracial person but as a person of color in a family of white people, and a boy and man without a relationship with his father (turns out that he wasn't raised by his "white mother from Kansas and a black man from Kenya" but primarily by his mother and her parents).

Obama goes to Kenya to visit his many half-siblings, aunts, and grandmothers, only one of whom he has met before he gets there. His older sister tells him of the father she and her brother knew, a story of how their father had disappointed them. Toward the end of the book is the long story about who his father actually was, told by Obama's father's stepmother whom he (Obama senior) counted as his mother. She describes her husband, Obama's grandfather, and Obama's father. She describes Obama senior as a boy, a young man, and an adult, both the good and the bad.

This part of the book interested me the most, but not because of Senator Obama. Reading the story of Obama's father, a man he met just once when he was ten years old, made me wish that there was someone I could go to to get that story about my own father.

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