Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama was my train reading, to relax with, this weekend. It was originally published in 1995, way before he could realistically thought he might become president. As such it gives an interesting insight into how possibly the most powerful man in the world saw himself before the Washington experience.
Yes, it paints a picture of his life which was carefully crafted to show what he wanted people to see, but it also has a raw honesty many politicians never let us see.
It tells the story of one mans search for identity. A search about what it means to not fit into the “average” boxes. Ethnicity and class issues feature strongly, as does religion and the search for faith.
What I found most interesting were his pictures of diverse forms of family and single parenthood. Single parents, particularly single mothers become normalised in this book. They were a part of the story and for once part of the story not portrayed as heroic or broken. The narrative showed how / why the situation is not ideal but it also showed how it cannot be used as an excuse. Single mothers in this book, supported by those around them, not only help raise the president they are also community activists and career women.
It also shows a respect for older members of the community which is strong but not unquestioning.
Beyond all this it also quite simply a well written, good read. If you haven’t read it yet I would highly recommend.