Sheila Miyoshii Jager, his love interest, refused his advances at the time because her mother said she was too young. She was 23 and Obama was 25.
The two continued to see each other, but Jager told Garrow that shortly after the proposal, Obama became more ambitious.
“I remember very specifically that by 1987, about a year into our relationship, he already had his sights on becoming president,” she said, according to the book. She told Garrow that Obama’s “resolution of his black identity was directly linked to his decision to pursue a political career,” according to the review.
Jager is of Dutch and Japanese ancestry. The review pointed out that Obama — who was a community organizer at the time — was eyeing a political run for mayor of Chicago or the US Senate. The review pointed out another book that said at the time, it could be seen as a political liability for a black politician in the area to have a wife who was not African-American.
The review pointed out that Jager, now a professor at Oberlin College, was all but written out of Obama’s famous book “Dreams From My Father.”
Obama went off to Harvard Law School and met Michelle Robinson at the Chicago law firm where she was employed, wrote Garrow, who received the Pulitzer Prize for his biography of Martin Luther King Jr.
“Barack and Sheila had continued to see each other irregularly throughout the 1990-91 academic year, notwithstanding the deepening of Barack’s relationship with Michelle Robinson,” Garrow wrote, according to the review. “I always felt bad about it,” Jager reportedly said