Review: “Behold the Dreamers”

26025588“Behold the Dreamers” by Imbolo Mbue

380 pages, Random House

Published Aug. 23, 2016

ISBN: 0812998480

“Everyone wants to come to America, sir. Everyone. To live in this country, sir. To live in this country. Ah! It is the greatest thing in the world, Mr. Edwards.”

And with that pronouncement, Cameroonian immigrant Jenge Jonga lands a job as a chaffeur for a Lehman Brothers executive on the cusp of the Great Recession. His wife Neni is hired to nanny the Edwardses’ children.

Meanwhile, Jende is fighting a battle with the immigration court to get his papers, and Neni is struggling to succeed in school so she can remain in the U.S. Through it all, the Jongas discover the Edwardses and others of their standing are living a flawed version of what they’ve come to understand is the American dream. And disillusionment sets in, for everyone.

I really enjoyed Mbue’s honest, intimate storytelling and the way the characters interacted throughout the book. The devolution of Jende’s optimism and the strengthening of Neni’s resolve, and the way they assimilate to American culture, is fascinating.

The Edwardses felt a bit caricaturized as the stereotype upper-class white American family, but it was important to create a juxtaposition between this family who seemingly has it all and the Jongas, who initially long for what appears to be a charmed life in the U.S.

Although set during the Great Recession nearly a decade ago, the themes of “Behold the Dreamers” – particularly the matter of immigration – remain timely and insightful.

4stars

4 stars

 

About the author

Imbolo Mbue is a native of Limbe, Cameroon. She holds a B.S. from Rutgers University and14196420.jpg an M.A. from Columbia University. A resident of the United States for over a decade, she lives in New York City. BEHOLD THE DREAMERS is her first novel.

Bio and photo courtesy of the author’s Goodreads profile

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Review: “Behold the Dreamers”

  1. Pingback: Winter Bookish Bingo update | That Book Lady Blog

  2. Pingback: Winter Bookish Bingo wrap-up | That Book Lady Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s