Behold the Dreamers

Behold the Dreamers

A Novel

Book - 2016
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At the intersection of "Americanah" and "The Help" comes a riveting debut novel about two marriages - one immigrant and working class, the other from the top 1% - both chasing their version of the American Dream. In the fall of 2007, Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Their situation only improves when Jende's son Neni is hired as household help. But in the course of their work, Jende and Neni begin to witness infidelities, skirmishes, and family secrets. Then, with the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers, a tragedy changes all four lives forever, and the Jongas must decide whether to continue fighting to stay in a recession-ravaged America or give up and return home to Cameroon.
Publisher: New York, New York : Random House, ©2016.
ISBN: 9780812998481
Characteristics: 382 pages ;,25 cm.

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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.

d
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.

s
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.

b
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.

n
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

m
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.

l
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.

m
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.

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ArapahoeMaryA Sep 27, 2017

Jalaluddin Rumi, the Sufi mystic. He’s the one who said, ‘Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.’ Which was his own way of saying, ‘Let’s not dwell too much on labeling things as right or wrong.

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