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Behold the Dreamers

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  72,608 ratings  ·  7,188 reviews
Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, has come to the United States to provide a better life for himself, his wife, Neni, and their six-year-old son. In the fall of 2007, Jende can hardly believe his luck when he lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Clark demands punctuality, discretion, and loyalty—and Jende ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published June 26th 2017 by Random House Trade (first published March 15th 2016)
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Ardelle Kasdan I agree. I read this book for my book group and we all loved it. I find it topical in light of the current situation in our country, especially for th…moreI agree. I read this book for my book group and we all loved it. I find it topical in light of the current situation in our country, especially for those who are working toward their "green card" and not only here for asylum. So few of us know the details behind our legal system for all immigrants.

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Average rating 3.95  · 
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Emily May
Sep 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-lit, botm, 2016
America was passing her by. New York City was passing her by. Bridges and billboards bearing smiling people were passing her by. Skyscrapers and brownstones were rushing by. Fast. Too fast. Forever.

3 1/2 stars. Ah, this book was a pleasant surprise. I picked Behold the Dreamers for my September Book of the Month read, mostly because none of the others appealed to me. I hadn't any previous plans to read it but, as it happens, it turned out to be an enjoyable read. Full of sadness, hope and -
Felice Laverne
“You think I don’t want to remain in America, too? You think I came to America so that I can leave? I work as a servant to people, driving them all over, the whole day, sometimes the whole week, answering yes sir, yes madam, bowing down even to a little child. For what, Neni? What pride are you talking about? I lower myself more than many men would ever lower themselves. What do you think I do it for? For you, for me. Because I want us to say in America! But if America says they don’t want us in ...more
This novel resonates with contemporary social and political issues dominating in the US, Europe and Australia, where there is a growing and visceral tide of hatred and rage against immigrants. Imbolo Mbue has written an illuminating book on the immigrant experience amidst the hollowness of the American dream set in New York. The story is told from the perspectives of Jende Jongo, and his wife, Nemi, who are from Cameroon dreaming of a better future in their new home. They have a son, Liomi, for ...more
Angela M
Although the novel takes place in 2008 , even now eight years since then , this is an extremely relevant story given this current political discourse on the immigration issue. Jende Jonga in efforts to get his green card explains to Clark Edwards, in his interview for a job as chauffeur why he wants to be in America:

"Everyone wants to come to America, sir. Everyone. To be in this country, sir. To live in this country. Ah! It's the greatest thing in the world, Mr.Edwards...Because ...because in
Ron Charles
Sometimes, a novel arrives at just the right moment.

Here we are in a crater of xenophobia. One of our presidential candidates is foaming at the mouth about “extreme vetting” for immigrants. But then along comes “Behold the Dreamers,” a debut novel by a young woman from Cameroon that illuminates the immigrant experience in America with the tenderhearted wisdom so lacking in our political discourse. While another author might have played that imperative title sarcastically, for Imbolo Mbue, “Behol
Jul 12, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: diverse-reads, arc
"Different things are important to different people."

Behold the Dreamers captured me from the very first chapter. I was actually planning on picking this up closer to its release date, but decided at the last minute to just read a line or two to see if it would work in my favor or not. And wow, did it impress for the first half.

This tells the tale of a family of three living in Harlem, New York: Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant, has come to the United States to provide a better life for hims
Diane S ☔
Jan 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 I went back and forth, trying to decide whether or not I liked any of these characters, except form the young children of course who were victims of circumstances they could not control. Was pretty sure I liked Jende for most of the book until he did something I abhorred. Nein too does something, out of desperation, but I did not much like her for it. The Edwards, Cindy and Clark were pretty much representative of the privileged culture, or at least how they are usually portrayed. I did even ...more
Jessica Jeffers
It genuinely surprises me that so many of my friends here on Goodreads seem to have been rather lukewarm on this book, because Behold the Dreamers was a thoroughly engrossing, powerful, emotional experience for me.

This is the story of a family who has emigrated from Cameroon. Jende and Neni Jonga, along with their young son, come to New York in 2007 in search of the American Dream. She enrolls in college, with the expectation that she can eventually become a pharmacist; he secures a job as the c
Elyse  Walters
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to my friend Lisi who gave me a dozen books - that she herself hadn’t read - but were on my TBR list on Goodreads. The books came with ‘red dots’ on the binding.
She only wants the red-dots book back if I’m ‘sure’ she will love it.
YES, LISI.... “you’ll love this book.

I’ve read other books about The Lehman Brothers- and the global financial crisis- ( and lived through it) -
I’ve read many fiction stories about immigration....
but this was the first book where I’ve read a novel of the tw
Feb 05, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
3+ stars. There were many things I liked about Behold the Dreamer, but in significant ways it ended up feeling like a missed opportunity. Imbolo Mbue tells the story of married couple Jende and Nemi, who have moved from Cameroon to New York City to pursue their dream of a better life in America. The story is told from their alternating points of view. Jende works as a chauffeur for a high finance guy who works on Wall Street in 2008 at the time of the financial collapse, and Nemi works odd jobs ...more
4.5 Stars

Imbolo Mbue’s debut novel, “Behold the Dreamers” takes a look at the immigrant dream of life in the United States, with promises of bigger, better than wherever you came from. Undoubtedly, there can be truth to that, but what happens to that dream when it seems elusive, out of reach or comes undone?

I was hooked right from the start by the story of Jende Jongo, formerly of Limbe, Cameroon, finding a dream job as a chauffeur for an executive at Lehman Brothers, in the year 2007. He’s been
4.5★ - A debut? You’re kidding!

Cameroon, where some families are so poor, we’re told, they give their children away. It’s supposedly a win-win. The kids have a better life with a wealthier family, and the poor family has one less mouth to feed. Sound appealing? No? I didn’t think so, and neither did Jende Jonga.

To escape poverty, Jende went to America as a visitor, overstayed his visa, brought his wife and young son over, and now keeps trying to get ‘papers’ so he won’t be deported. They live i
Behold the Dreamers by Imbole Mbue is a 2016 Random House publication.

This is one of those books that created a fair amount of buzz during 2016. For me, it’s one of those books I wouldn’t ordinarily pick out, but I was curious to know why the book was nominated for so many awards.

I enjoyed the book, initially, and found myself feeling sympathetic towards Jende and his fierce determination to stay in America and create a better life for his family.

I watched with dread as he got sucked into the
Aug 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, black-authors
It seems like 2016 is the year of some really, really great debuts—and Behold the Dreamers is no exception. Imbolo Mbue has created a story that's at once heartwarming and heartbreaking. You can't help but feel for the characters, empathize with their struggles, rejoice in their victories, and mourn with them in their sufferings. She touches on issues of love & marriage, immigration, wealth & poverty, identity and the American Dream. It's an ambitious novels but pulls it off excellently. I woul ...more
Richard Derus
Nov 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rating: 5* of five

Y'all, I've been warbling my fool head off about this one for going on five years. I five-starred it...said this just might be The Great American Novel...I can't afford to buy everyone a Kindle copy, even at $2.99 (which it is today), but I would if I could. Go get you one.


I voted for this book in the 2016 Goodreads Choice Awards. I read somewhere on the internet that thi
Jennifer Blankfein
Follow me on https://booknationbyjen.wordpress.com for all my recommendations and reviews.

Loved this debut novel by Imbolo Mbue! Jende and Neni, from Cameroon, are striving to achieve the American Dream…apartment in NYC, working hard and studying long, struggling to raise a family in the United States. They have high hopes and aspirations, and with a positive outlook, they aim to achieve their goals. Clark and Cindy are American, rich and live a lavish lifestyle. Their lives are filled with pain
Brown Girl Reading
Jan 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of immigrant stories
The immigrant story has been the central theme to quite a lot of contemporary novels these past few years. The release of Imbolo Mbue's Behold the Dreamers may have first been perceived as another typical immigrant story to join all the others, but actually it's much more.... For more click the link https://browngirlreading.com/2017/01/... ...more
Book Riot Community
The book itself is excellent: a beautifully written story about family, dreams, what home means, the different interpretations of the American dream… The audiobook is an Oscar-worthy production. I know the Oscars don’t give awards for audiobook narrators but they should–they should give all the awards to Prentice Onayemi for his impeccable, brilliant, and lovely narration. I finished this book feeling as if I had just walked out of an amazing Broadway show. I will read anything Imbolo Mbue write ...more
This novel was a breath of fresh air-- when you read something like this, you wonder how it's possible that there aren't more voices like Ms. Mbue's getting published.

We follow a married couple from Cameroon, Africa working to get citizenship in New York. Jende & Neni Jonga struggle to understand the immigration process in America. Jende finds a job as a driver for Clark Edwards- an executive for Lehman Brothers- oh did I forget to mention that this book takes place in 2008, before the S#*t hit
Behold the Dreamers was good, but not great. The beginning of the book was strong - I was intrigued and wanted to keep reading the story. The struggle of the main characters in their pursuit of the American dream was well-portrayed, however I felt like the book's ending fell very flat. ...more
Larry H
Jul 08, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Jende Jonga believes in the American Dream. A Cameroonian immigrant, he came to the U.S. to make a better life for himself, and he dreamed of providing opportunity for his wife, Neni, and their young son, Liomi, who eventually are able to join him in an apartment in Harlem. Neni pursues education to become a pharmacist, while Jende drives a cab and hopes for a better opportunity.

Good fortune presents itself in the fall of 2007, when Jende lands a job as the chauffeur of a senior executive with L
Jul 08, 2017 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
i still plan to read this one (slow down, time!!!), but once again proving you don't have to have read every book in order to do good readers' advisory work, i have made a readalike list here: https://www.rifflebooks.com/list/236305 ...more
Jan 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
America's relationship with immigrants is complicated, dangling the American dream while at the same time withholding it. This book was an illuminating look at a family from Limbe, Cameroon who try to establish a life for themselves in New York City. Sometimes this works out, and sometimes it doesn't. This was an excellent book, especially from a first time author.

Jende Jonga, his wife Neni and their six year old son are living in Harlem. Jende has a job as chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a Lehman
Jun 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, book-clubs

An interesting story about an African couple that come to NYC searching for the American Dream and instead get caught in the worst recession the country has seen short of the Great Depression. Jende finds work as a chauffeur for a Lehman Brothers executive. The contrast between their two lives is surreal.

You feel so sorry for Jende and Neni. They are such sweet people, trying so hard. And it's not that their employers are evil. The Edwards seem caring; Mrs. Edwards strokes a check for $500 so t
This was a stressful read for me and it may make your stomach ulcer bleed a little. I became anxious contemplating the poor choices the characters faced, and picked out things I would have done differently, given the constraints. A man from Cameroon overstays his visa in the United States, invites his girlfriend and their baby to come from Africa, then seeks an immigration lawyer to plead a case of asylum for him.

This is a story of immigration, illegal trying to be legal. It is a story that puts
Stephanie Anze
Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Jende and Neni Jonga leave Limbe, Cameroon for a shot at the "American Dream". Having overstayed his visa Jende has a legal ongoing matter to gain asylum and thus the opportunity to stay permanently in America. But his day to day is anything but easy. Driving a cab in New York and earning a meager living is far from the life he dreams of. Through a recommendation, Jende lands the job of driving Clark Edwards, an executive for Lehman Brothers. With a pay raise comes along the expectations of the ...more
Will be vacillating between 4 and 5 on this one. Letting it marinate for a minute...

Roughly 4.5 Stars

Listened to the audiobook. Prentice Onayemi is excellent!!
America, the land of promise, the land where dreams can come true. You just have to work hard, and you can make it! If only it was so easy.....
In this book, we learn how difficult it is to achieve the American dream. So much depends on getting a green card: so much depends on getting a good job; so much depends on who you know.

We follow Jende and Neni as they both pursue their dreams: Jendi to provide for his family and Neni to go to school and become a pharmacist.

Jende becomes a chauffeur for C
Joce (squibblesreads)
Behold the Dreamers is an #ownvoices book speaking about the powerlessness behind the immigration process and the adjustment process which is different for every individual and family that tries to immigrate to the USA. It discussed some microaggressions towards Cameroonian people specifically in this book, but also towards other African countries such as "I've seen your country once in National Geographic", or "my sister went to Kenya last year" - and provided the analogy of telling someone fro ...more
Apr 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have so much love for these characters! The story of a Cameroon family coming to America to chase their American dream. This book really takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions, first hope and then despair. You feel everything this family endure trying to secure their immigration papers, the lengths they will go to to fight to stay in New York City, the city of a million dreams. Set in 2008 during the financial crisis, the widespread job shortage causing a real fear for their future possibili ...more
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Imbolo Mbue is a native of Limbe, Cameroon. She holds a B.S. from Rutgers University and an M.A. from Columbia University. A resident of the United States for over a decade, she lives in New York City. BEHOLD THE DREAMERS is her first novel.

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