Behold the Dreamers

Behold the Dreamers

A Novel

Book - 2016
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s
sjanke2
Sep 15, 2020

This is one of the best audiobooks I've ever listened to (thanks for the rec, Cale!). Prentice Onayemi is an extraordinarily talented narrator, and I will seek out his other audiobook projects. This book, its characters, and their plights reminded me of the movie Parasite. I'm so very looking forward to Imbolo Mbue's upcoming release, How Beautiful We Were.

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dekelpodolsky
Aug 23, 2020

What a great book! Easy to read, captivating and very real. Would particularly speak to anyone who is an immigrant. Thought provoking about the parallelism between the economic crisis of 2008 and the current Covid-19 one.

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susan_findlay
Apr 15, 2020

This book shouldn't have taken as long to read as it did, but Covid-19 happened, leaving me with no time for anything outside of work and family.

With that out of the way, I thought this book was a fantastic look into a lifestyle I've had very little exposure to. The characters were complex, interesting and well-developed. They felt real. As did the story. I appreciated all the cultural references and the wide variety of secondary characters as well as the core family. I suspect that I would have enjoyed it even more had I been able to focus on it over a shorter period of time.

Strongly recommend.

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becker
Jul 18, 2019

This book is about a couple from Cameroon who are living in New York City and are actively trying to secure their papers so they can stay. It is also about an American couple who hire the African husband to be their chauffeur. The two families become involved somewhat in each other's lives and we see both the joys as well as the struggles that both couples face. What I loved about this book was how you get to see things from every side. The good and bad of both the rich American family as well as the immigrant family. I didn't think there were any obvious villains in this story. Each character had strong and weak qualities and they were all just doing the best they could in their own lives which were messy at times. I liked all of them, despite their flaws. This was a very readable and engaging story.

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nalahblueberry5
Jun 22, 2019

I really enjoyed this easy to read, full of believeable characters and foreign culture novel. Good job. Would read her again, for sure

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maureenxcho
Jun 13, 2019

26 copies. 12 available. American dream immigrant story. Cameroon culture.

c
cycloPhil
Feb 13, 2019

Good reflection on how quickly the American dream falls apart when immigrant see the real US. Nice dive into a bit of Cameroonian culture too.

j
joianng
Feb 12, 2019

i cried though this entire book and the ending just made me want to jump off a cliff. It was so captivating and emotion pulling and the ending just upset me. But that's how you know its a good book. I finished it in about 4 days. Real page turner.

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Linyarai
Jan 19, 2019

I read this for the "A Character That Is An Immigrant" part of my 2019 reading challenge. I found it pretty slow, I enjoyed the first half of the story more than the second half. I was pretty disappointed in his decision in the end.

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mayog
Oct 29, 2018

Imbolo Mbue holds up a mirror to the American Dream and raises all sorts of questions about its worth, questions worth pondering through the eyes of these two families.

Set at the advent of the Obama era, Mbue's story of Cameroonian immigrants and their interaction with a rich white American family explores all of the seams behind the facade of life in America, particularly life in New York City.

At the end, the novel hopeful, but not for any of the reasons that one typically imagines. Instead, Mbue's novel invites the reader to shift focus and gaze from what contemporary culture considers "success," and to examine with a critical eye the fractured existences upon which that success can be built.

LPL_KateG Jun 22, 2018

My book club enjoyed this and had a great discussion about immigration, the American Dream, class differences in various places, and what it means to live a satisfying life. This novel was compelling and had characters who were complex and interesting. I would highly recommend this for a book club!

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MyTake
May 23, 2018

I loved the pace, the plot twists, the references to another culture. It's impressive that this book is her first. I look forward to reading other books that she may write.

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orange_lobster_23
Apr 07, 2018

The lives of Cameroonian immigrants aspiring U.S. citizens and Jende Jonga and his wife Nendi become intertwined with that of his Lehman executive employer and family in
this tense and heart-breaking story set in 2007 N.Y.C. A sad and compassionate look at the lives of struggling immigrants and a formerly comfortable family after the 2007 Lehman brothers collapse. A compelling read and winner of the 2016 PEN/Faulkner Award.

u
uncommonreader
Mar 29, 2018

This is not a badly written book, but it tells an ordinary story through a rose-tinted lens. A family of immigrants from Cameroon, believing in the American dream, are desperate to stay in the United States for its material benefits. The story is redeemed in the last few chapters.

ArapahoeStaff8 Feb 22, 2018

A novel about two young immigrants from Africa who come to New York City. Through hard work they thrive and begin to raise their family. But overwhelming challenges with the immigration system send them back home to Africa.

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swheeler89
Jan 31, 2018

Not sure if I would have found this without Oprah, so yeah, Oprah for President?... Seriously this was great. The story and characters were so real, you didn't know who to root for. You learn that family is more than money, and at time more than dreams. Do yourself a favor, read this, and then engage an immigrant to listen to their story as well.

k
KMJ_
Jan 22, 2018

Jende and Neni are immigrants from Cameroon who live in Harlem. The book begins with Jende getting a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, an executive at Lehman Brothers. Neni attends community college with the goal of becoming a pharmacist. The book is set during the 2008 Presidential Election, and right before the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy that contributed to the Great Recession. As Jende’s immigration status becomes more and more tenuous, Neni decides she will do just about anything in order to raise her children in America. Neni is the strongest character, and her actions are the most interesting parts of the book. The Edwards family is less developed, and comes across as a caricature of rich people. Perhaps that was the point though, that this generic rich couple has no idea of how much their actions affect individuals like Jende and Neni, thousands of Lehman Brothers employees, and their own children.

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suekrachko
Dec 04, 2017

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue is an astonishing debut novel about immigration to America. The author's writes with clarity and suspense, keeping the reader riveted to the story. One of the three best books I've read in 2017.

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mnack_0
Dec 02, 2017

Another great "first novel" with a surprise ending. Her story gives one much to think about and to discuss about the immigrant story (myth?) in America.

ehbooklover Oct 17, 2017

A compulsively readable book about the experiences of two very different families in New York City during the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the recession that followed it. I loved the complicated and flawed characters as well as the unpredictable ending.

o
ownedbydoxies
Oct 11, 2017

A very timely novel about hard-working 'dreamers' hoping to make a new and better life for themselves and their children in the US. The author details two very different marriages, with very different ways of approaching life's struggles, and as she happens to also be a 'dreamer', although in her case a successful one in that she has achieved green card status, I'm thinking her portrayal is particularly honest and to the point. I'm not American, I live in Canada, but we see headlines from south of us all the time, and in my estimation the current attitudes towards immigrants are very well depicted in this book.

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brangwinn
Sep 03, 2017

This is the kind of book that remains with me. When I look at an immigrant, I realize I don’t understand the issues they are dealing with at all in a foreign culture. Yes, America is great, but if you are among the many families struggling for legitimate visas, worrying about deportation trying to raise a family while being subservient to employers who hold the key to everything in your life, life is much different that for those of us born here. The image of a duck calm on top of the water, yet paddling as hard as they can came to mind while I was reading this book. I loved the juxtaposition of the Cameroonian family working for a wealthy Wall Street banking family. Each had their own problems. One involved the use of drugs and alcohol and denial of how they got to be in such an envied position and the other the determined effort of a family for education and a salary that would allow them to meet the monthly necessities.

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spiderfelt_0
Sep 03, 2017

The book captured my attention right away, but as the story progressed, the characters began acting in surprising ways. While several people have said this is a book about immigration, I think it is also a commentary on marriage and the impact of stress on well-being. Even though I didn't love the book, i would still recommend it, simply because we need to read more stories centered around the struggles of the working poor.

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dontbugmeimreading
Jul 19, 2017

A good story of a couple with a son trying to make it as illegal immigrants in New York City. Not a book I would have picked up on my own, so, thank-you Oprah for recommending it. Wish it had recipes for some of the Cameroonian dishes mentioned throughout the book, or at least a glossary explaining what they were. (I googled Puff-Puff and they resemble Timbits.)

archreads Jul 18, 2017

A compelling look at the current immigrant experience through the eyes of a young family from Cameroon immigrating to NYC and trying to obtain citizenship.


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