Behold The Dreamers

Imbolo Mbue     Pages: 382      Published: 2016

The book: This is the story of Jende and Neni, who came to America from Cameroon, with their six-year-old son, to build a better life for themselves.  In 2007, Jende and Neni manage to obtain jobs working for a banking executive and his wife.  Things are looking up.  Will they realize their dreams or will the collapse of the global economy bring destruction?

You might like it because: It’s a well-written book detailing the reality of the life faced by many immigrants who come to America, which is often very different from the picture of this country that drew them here in the first place.  More than that, it’s a story about family, perseverance, hope, and how far we will go to achieve success.

What did other people say?
“As a dissection of the American dream, Imbolo Mbue’s first novel is savage and compassionate in all the right places….Awe-inspiring” – The New York Times

“A fresh, engaging entry in the eternally evolving narrative of what it means to be an American – and how human beings, not laws or dogma, define liberty.” – Entertainment Weekly

Awards & Recognition:
Winner of  The Pen/Faulkner Award for Fiction
New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year

How quickly will you get into the book? In the first chapter, we are introduced to Jende, who is preparing for a job interview.  Mbue skillfully pulls the reader into his story so we feel vested in the outcome and want to read more.

You might not like it because: In the second half of the book, two of the main characters appear to have significant personality changes or at least behave in ways we do not expect of them, and this might feel disingenuous for some readers.
The Clark and Cindy characters, at times, feel clichéd.

What might you read next?
Read another fictional story about expatriates, this time Korean expatriates in Japan: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee.

Or, read some historical fiction about a family fleeing Nazi Germany and hoping to build a new life in Cuba: The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa.

Alternatively, move from Cameroon to Nigeria next door and read Chigozie Obioma’s The Fishermen.

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