It's a great feeling to read a good book that is well-written, heartfelt, and educational. But it's an even more wonderful feeling when the smart, articulate, honest, and inspiring writer happens to be your President.
I've been meaning to read this book for a while, but it took picking it for our book club to actually get me to pick it up. I have to admit, there was something that felt oddly voyeuristic about reading such a personal memoir by Barack Obama. But it was also incredibly satisfying -- I loved learning about his childhood and his pathway to community organizing and law school. It was also nice to finally have the sequence of his moves to various states and countries explained, not to mention his family history.
I could tell that he wrote it at a time when he wasn't considering a political career, because he was honest about emotions, family relationships, struggles and weaknesses in a way that someone aspiring to become President of the United States would edit much more substantially. For that reason, it was a refreshing read. I loved that he shared his struggles and confusion with respect to his identity as a black boy growing up with a white mother and grandparents. It is not easy to write about race, but Obama wrote eloquently and honestly, and I learned a lot. My only criticism of the book is that, at times, I felt like some of the chapters dragged on a bit. Whereas the chapters from his childhood raced by, the sections on his time in Chicago and Kenya were not as riveting to me.
I could go into more detail discussing the complexity of Obama's father, his relationship with his other family members, and his time in Chicago, but I feel that you need to read the book instead, because it's worth it.
I will end the review by saying that reading this book reminded me again of what a fucking idiot George Bush is, and I question how we all actually managed to survive 8 years of his presidency. Thank God he's gone, and Hail to the Chief.
MY RATING: 8/10