I don't know what I expected from this book. I've never enjoyed reading books by famous people about their lives. Or maybe I never liked the idea of famous people who are not writers just writing books because they are famous.
Well, I did not get whatever it was I was expecting. In this memoir, Obama was so obviously careful about the craft of his work, so vulnerable in his honesty, and so sincere (almost to a fault; the book took itself very seriously). It grappled very heavily with the complex reality of being a young black man in today's world. And this was something I know very little of, and did not know I would be getting into. But the book was also not what I expected because in the end, I realized, I knew so very little about my president - the president I had voted for. I did not know the story of his parents. I did not know that he had been raised for several years in Indonesia. I did not know that he'd smoked cigarettes and pot and had ever identified as a drifter.
After reading this book, I thought, 'ah, so this is why people read memoirs of famous people.' After closing the pages, I felt so close to Obama, the public figure in the suit and tie and with the booming, resonant speeches. I felt closer to greatness: to understanding it, to knowing it, and in that strange way, possessing it.