Mini-Summary from Litlovers: Dreams from My Father tells the story of Obama’s struggle to understand the forces that shaped him as the son of a black African father and white American mother—a struggle that takes him from the American heartland to the ancestral home of his great-aunt in the tiny African village of Alego.
NY Times Review: A Promise of Redemption:
Interview from 1995 regarding the book:
Discussion Questions from LitLovers:
1. Describe the difficulties Obama had as a child—not fitting in with white children and fearing social "out-casts."
2. Is it possible for any individual born of two ethnic origins to find a society in which he or she truly belongs? Think of recent authors who have struggled with similar issues: Amy Tan (Chinese), Jhumpa Lahiri (Indian), Louise Erdrich (Native American). Also consider the classics of African-American writers like Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man and Richard Wright's Native Son, Toni Morrison's Beloved.
3. Discuss Obama's family. What about his mother—would you have liked more attention paid to her in this work? Also consider his grandparents and they role they played in his life.
4. When he makes his trip to Kenya, what does he come to understand about his father—and his own heritage.
5. Do you feel Obama's attitude toward the all-white culture is one of blame, acceptance, resignation? Or something else?
6. Ultimately, Obama's memoir is a coming-of-age story in which a young man who straddles two cultures seeks his identity in the adult world. How—or how well—does he succeed? What conclusions does he reach?
7. Talk about his work as a community social worker on Chicago's south side. What does he learn or come to realize about his role in the African-American community?
8. Knowing now, as we do, of Obama's election as President of the United States, how do you view the primary events in his memoirs? In what ways have they shaped his political success and his political views?