Summary: There are three parts to Obama's narrative. He begins with his childhood in Hawaii/Indonesia, moves to Chicago to work on public service projects, and more or less ends his memoir in Kenya where he visits relatives on his father's side of the family. Young Obama struggles with identity, race, and family.
Whatever you think of Obama's politics, this book was impeccably written. (And if you'd rather not read about politics, it is just about absent from this book. He touches upon some work he does Chicago, but it doesn't overwhelm the narrative.) The amount of detail is wonderful. Obama's characters (mostly relatives) are complex, human, and often funny. Obama's struggle to find a place in the world and scheme of things was extremely refreshing and easy to relate to.
Vile Bodies, Evelyn Waugh
Summary: A choir of not-so-wholesome angels and troupe of random characters struggle to make do in a jaded, financially unstable society. It's difficult to say more than that without giving away specific plot points.
This is a pretty hilarious satire. I grew rather fond of some of its characters, which is why it was disappointing when they struggle and continue to struggle at the end of the novel. The characters never get the resolution I wanted, and it was frustrating at times. I couldn't decide whether the lack of resolution was realistic or cynical (or perhaps both). I mostly enjoyed it, but I wouldn't read it again.
Howl's Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones
Summary: A witch curses a young girl - Sophie - who is then forced to contend with her new circumstances. Circumstances lead her to reside in a moving castle with the notoriously feared wizard Howl, his apprentice Michael, and a fire demon named Calcifer. The novel follows Sophie's struggle to break the curse.
This was a re-read, and it is one of my favorite books. The characters are wonderful. Jones creates touching, entertaining characters, and I was very eager to find out what happens to them. The story is poignant and funny. It's a great read, and I highly recommend it!