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Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
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Behold the Dreamers (original 2016; edition 2016)

by Imbolo Mbue (Author)

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8915714,586 (3.99)66
Member:ccs3
Title:Behold the Dreamers
Authors:Imbolo Mbue (Author)
Info:Penguin Random House USA Ex (2016), Edition: 01, 400 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
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Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue (2016)

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» See also 66 mentions

English (56)  Dutch (1)  All languages (57)
Showing 1-5 of 56 (next | show all)
This is a novel (which very much reminded me of T.C. Boyle's Tortilla Curtain) of the connected and contrasting lives of two very different families. Jende comes to America from Cameroon seeking asylum, later bringing his wife Neni and son to join him. Although his emigration status is uncertain, he lands a job as the driver for the wealthy Edwards family, consisting of Clark, an executive at Lehmann Brothers, his wife Cindy, and their two sons. Shortly after the book opens, the 2008 financial meltdown begins. Events unfold which for both families threaten their version of the American dream.

I enjoyed this version of the interaction between the wealthy and the poor in NYC. The characters are realistic, and mostly sympathetically portrayed. Some of the Wall Street stuff, mostly conversations Clark has that we overhear, didn't feel authentic to me, and I enjoyed Jende's part of the story more. I thought there was a lot of insight into the immigrant experience, which (obviously) has become even more tenuous since the time period during which this book is set.

Recommended. ( )
  arubabookwoman | Nov 25, 2018 |
An interesting story of a couple's pursuit of staying in America after immigrating from Cameroon during the financial crisis. The first half of the book sucks you in, but about 3/4ths in the story gets sloppy and all the characters begin doing horrible and/or stupid things that you kind of understand why, but it just doesn't fit into the story being told or how the characters have been portrayed earlier in the book. Overall a decent read that you will want to finish to see what happens. ( )
  wellreadcatlady | Oct 4, 2018 |
The riveting story of a young couple from Cameroon who have immigrated to New York City but who find themselves thwarted in their dreams by the Great Recession. ( )
  ParadisePorch | Sep 28, 2018 |
Stilted conversations and a little contrived in parts, but timely and nuanced view from the point of Jende and Neni Jonga, Cameroonian immigrants who work for a wealthy Lehman Brothers executive leading up to and through the fall and financial crisis in 2007. The two families intertwine in unexpected ways. ( )
  quirkylibrarian | Sep 16, 2018 |
How are success and happiness measured?

Behold the Dreamers describes the lives of immigrants from Cameroon who wanted to replace their routine, stagnant lives to living the American dream. Jende and Neni Jonga are young, smart and willing to work hard to succeed. With help from their supportive friends and relatives in New York they learn some of the basics of life in a busy city. They live in a small apartment with their son in Harlem, get menial jobs, and believe they are on the road to success and happiness. Neni attends classes to prepare for pharmacy school, and gets good grades. Soon Jende is fortunate to land a job as chauffer to a financial executive and his family. Together the Jongas naively focus on their goals of saving money, improving their lives and becoming citizens.

Mbue cleverly shows the reader how interdependent people’s lives are, and the serendipity of life’s variables.

The green card issues and the worsening of the Edwards family problems coalesce simultaneously and critically impact the Jongas. Soon both families’ lives change dramatically.

Their naive belief in the American Dream, and their dependence on the Edwards family produce a shocking and harmful reaction by the Jongas.

Well written, good pacing, and dialogue, and full of so much sad wisdom.
  Bookish59 | Sep 15, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 56 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Imbolo Mbueprimary authorall editionscalculated
Onayemi, PrenticeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with streams and pools of water, with springs flowing in the valleys and hills, a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig-trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills.
Deuteronomy 8:7-9
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He'd never been asked to wear a suit to a job interview. Never been told to bring along a copy of his resume.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0812998480, Hardcover)

For fans of Americanah and The Lowland comes a debut novel about an immigrant couple striving to get ahead as the Great Recession hits home. With profound empathy, keen insight, and sly wit, Imbolo Mbue has written a compulsively readable story about marriage, class, race, and the trapdoors in the American Dream.
 
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 their 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’ facades.
 
Then the financial world is rocked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers. Desperate to keep Jende’s job, which grows more tenuous by the day, the Jongas try to protect the Edwardses from certain truths, even as their own 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
 
“A beautiful novel 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, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Enrique’s Journey

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 11 Jan 2016 01:04:30 -0500)

Imbolo Mbue's debut novel about marriage, immigration, class, race, and the trapdoors in the American Dream tells the story of a young Cameroonian couple making a new life in New York just as the Great Recession upends the economy.

(summary from another edition)

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