Monday, June 6, 2011

A Singular Woman

While I was on vacation last week, I finished A Singular Woman by Janny Scott. It is the biography of S. Ann Dunham, who is President Obama's mother. Scott's purpose of this book was to show that Dunham was more than "a white woman from Kansas".

Born in 1942, Stanely Ann Dunham moved around during her childhood because of her father's work. After living in Washington state for a few years (which may have influenced some of her views), Ann moved to Hawaii and enrolled in college. She met Barack Obama, Sr. during her first few days on campus in 1960. Less than a year later, their son was born.

After Ann's divorce from the President's father, she remarried an Indonesian man and moved to his home country with Barack. She fell in love with Indonesia, spending most of her life doing anthropology work in the country. She was also able to obtain a PhD while raising two multiracial children by herself (and help from her parents).

You can tell by this book that Ann was not the type who stayed home and bake cookies. She dated and married men of other races in a time where it was illegal in some states to do so. Despite motherhood and marriage, she pressed on and finished her college education. Through her work she got to interact with people from other cultures and became lifelong friends with some of them (more than 200 people were interviewed for the book). She taught her children the values from her Kansas upbringing, which shaped them in the people they have become today (especially the President).

The only thing I didn't like about the book is that there is a lot of discussion of her work. At times it weighed down the story. But it did show some insight into what she was as a person.

As I got towards the end of the book, I got sad. I got sad because she got taken away at the young age of 52. I got sad because she never knew what her son became and that her dream of him becoming President became true. She never saw her daughter get married. She will never know her four granddaughters and will never be called Grandma.

I think this book is idea for Obama fans and those who like biographies in general.

(Picture of cover from Chicago Reader)

1 comment:

  1. It is sad that she didn't live to see her son become the POTUS. She died way too young.