Behold the Dreamers

Behold the Dreamers

eBook - 2016
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A compulsively readable debut novel about marriage, immigration, class, race, and the trapdoors in the American Dream?the unforgettable story of a young Cameroonian couple making a new life in New York just as the Great Recession upends the economy Named one of BuzzFeed 's "Incredible New Books You Need to Read This Summer" 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 is eager to please. Clark's wife, Cindy, even offers Neni temporary work at the Edwardses' summer home in the Hamptons. With these opportunities, Jende and Neni can at last gain a foothold in America and imagine a brighter future. However, the world of great power and privilege conceals troubling secrets, and soon Jende and Neni notice cracks in their employers' fa?ades. When the financial world is rocked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Jongas are desperate to keep Jende's job?even as their marriage threatens to fall apart. As all four lives are dramatically upended, Jende and Neni are forced to make an impossible choice. Advance praise for Behold the Dreamers "Imbolo Mbue would be a formidable storyteller anywhere, in any language. It's our good luck that she and her stories are American." ?Jonathan Franzen, National Book Award-winning author of Purity and Freedom "Dazzling, fast-paced, and exquisitely written, Behold the Dreamers is one of those rare novels that will change the way you see the world. Imbolo Mbue is a breathtaking talent." ?Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train "Who is this Imbolo Mbue and where has she been hiding? Her writing is startlingly beautiful, thoughtful, and both timely and timeless. She's taking on everything from family to the Great Recession to immigration while deftly reminding us what it means to truly believe in 'the American dream.'" ?Jacqueline Woodson, National Book Award?winning author of Brown Girl Dreaming and Another Brooklyn "It's rare that a book is so fascinating, so emotionally compelling, and so beautiful that I literally can't put it down. I picked Behold the Dreamers up one evening before bed. I turned the last page at dawn. It ruined the next day for me?I wasn't much good for anything but a nap?but it was worth every lost hour." ?Ayelet Waldman, New York Times bestselling author of Love and Treasure "A beautiful book about one African couple starting a new life in a new land, Behold the Dreamers will teach you as much about the promise and pitfalls of life in the United States as about the immigrants who come here in search of the so-called American dream." ?Sonia Nazario, author of Enrique's Journey and winner of the Pulitzer Prize "Among the spate of novels forged in the crucible of the previous decade, Mbue's impressive debut deserves a singular place. . . . Realistic, tragic, and still remarkably kind to all its characters, this is a special book." ?Kirkus Reviews (starred review) From the Hardcover edition.
Publisher: [S.I.] : Random House Publishing Group, 2016
ISBN: 9780812998498
0812998499
0812998499
Branch Call Number: eBook
Characteristics: 1 online resource

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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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Riddlereads Dec 19, 2016

Behold the Dreamers takes us back to the beginning of the Great Recession--a time when so many were losing jobs and homes. The focus of the novel is on a family who emigrated from Cameroon and wanted desperately to make a life for themselves in the U.S. It's both heart-wrenching and surprising; y... Read More »


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b
becker
Sep 06, 2017

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.

b
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.

s
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.

d
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.

debwalker Jun 28, 2017

June 28 2017: Oprah Winfrey has chosen Imbolo Mbue's Behold the Dreamers as the latest Oprah's Book Club Pick. The debut novel tells the story of two fathers--a working-class immigrant from Cameroon who is hired as a chauffeur by a top Lehman Brothers executive in the fall of 2007, just before the financial crisis--and how their families become inextricably linked.

n
NWPLindabear
Mar 05, 2017

This is a highly topical book given everything that is happening with immigration and refugees in North America. And very readable, although the writing was a bit amateurish at times, which is somewhat fair given this is the author's first book. At times, the dialogue given, particularly when the rich, employer was on the phone, read like a high school play. Being a parent, I kept wondering where the heck Jende and Neni's kids were. They lived in this tiny apartment, but would have these long arguments and the kids would conveniently sleep through them? Yeah, no way. I was also put off by the attempt to make the reader feel sympathetic for the rich family. Rich people have problems too! Right, but it detracted from the more important immigrant story, which was compelling and felt genuinely chaotic. Throughout the book, my gut ached for Jende and Neni and their disparate emotional struggles with trying to stay in the United States. In spite of what I recognize as my own nitpicking with the writing, I would recommend this book and I do look forward to reading more works by this author in the future as her writing develops.

d
dwalkbels
Feb 02, 2017

This is one of my top all time favourite books to read. An eye opening novel that helps one see things that are happening within our world from a different and frank perspective. I thank the author for sharing it.

Michael Colford Dec 22, 2016

Imbolo Mbue's debut novel is a highly readable modern tale of immigration and the challenges faced with tackling the American Dream... especially during a recession. Jende comes to America from Cameroon with big dreams, and through the help of an earlier transplant, his cousin Winston, gets a job as a chaffeur for a wealthy, Wall Street executive, Mr. Clark, driving him, his wife and two kids around and making a fairly good salary doing it. Certainly a salary that is astronomically more than he would make in Cameroon. His pregnant wife, Nemi, and their son arrive soon after, and she embarks on an educational mission to become a pharmacist. It's all going wonderfully, with savings accumulating and bosses who appreciate them, but there's one problem. they're in the country illegally, and despite the fact that it takes months for any action to be taken, it is likely they will be deported sometime in the future.

Then fortunes turn as Wall Street implodes. Their lives, so optimistic and seemingly certain, take a precarious dive as their relationship with the Clarks and with each other, start to fray. Mbue captures the essence of the ups and downs of the immigrant experience beautifully, and while there is an element of char throughout, the challenges faced by those struggling to make it in America is not downplayed. This is a debut novel that demands attention, and resonates strongly with today's America.

Riddlereads Dec 19, 2016

Behold the Dreamers takes us back to the beginning of the Great Recession--a time when so many were losing jobs and homes. The focus of the novel is on a family who emigrated from Cameroon and wanted desperately to make a life for themselves in the U.S. It's both heart-wrenching and surprising; you never know what you're capable of until your dream is threatened. Although it takes place in the recent past, I would still recommend it for lovers of historical fiction.

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