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Behold the Dreamers
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March 2019: Debut > Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue - 4 stars

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Joy D | 3044 comments Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue - 4 stars

This book tells the story of two families living in the New York City during the lead-up to the financial crisis of 2008. Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant, becomes a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a Lehman Brothers executive. Jende brings his wife, Neni, and son, Liomi, to New York from Cameroon, hoping to take advantage of the “American Dream.” The story follows the lives of these two families, contrasting their triumphs and challenges. One family is pursuing the dream, working hard, saving and sacrificing, to create a life of opportunity for themselves and their children. The other has achieved the dream, but at a substantial cost to their well-being. As the story unfolds, these two families become more interdependent, and face difficult ethical decisions, both personally and professionally. Themes include dreams, family, social class, marriage, and immigration.

This book brought home to me the reality of the many difficulties faced by immigrants – navigating the complicated government bureaucracy over visas and residency, court appearances and costs, language and cultural barriers, working multiple jobs to make ends meet, and sending money to relatives back home. The dream often comes face to face with the reality that there is only so much one can control through hard work and perseverance. The book is well crafted and conveys a sense of time and place. The writing is straightforward, and the characters are vivid. I think the primary strength lies in the interactions among the characters. They come across as flawed individuals but empathetic in unexpected ways. It is not a “happy” book, but it struck me as authentic, and gave me much food for thought. I think it would make an excellent choice for a book club discussion. This book is a strong debut by Mbue, and I look forward to reading more from her in the future.

Link to My Review


message 2: by Anita (new)

Anita Pomerantz | 6249 comments I feel like this book was on my radar and then fell off it. Your review is compelling. Especially sounds like one to bring to my f2f book club as a possibility.


Joy D | 3044 comments Yes, Anita, I think it would be a very good selection for a f2f book club discussion


Susie | 4488 comments I really enjoyed listening to the audio of this novel. The characters are still very clear to me despite having listened to it at least a year ago.


Booknblues | 5305 comments I have this on my tbr and need to find some way to move it up.


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