Behold the Dreamers

Behold the Dreamers

A Novel

Downloadable Audiobook - 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

New York Times Bestseller * Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award * Longlisted for the PEN/Open Book Award * An ALA Notable Book

NPR * The New York Times Book Review * San Francisco Chronicle * The Guardian * St. Louis Post-Dispatch * Chicago Public Library * BookPage * Refinery29 * Kirkus Reviews

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' façades.

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.

Praise for Behold the Dreamers

"A debut novel by a young woman from Cameroon that illuminates the immigrant experience in America with the tenderhearted wisdom so lacking in our political discourse . . . Mbue is a bright and captivating storyteller." -- The Washington Post

"A capacious, big-hearted novel." -- The New York Times Book Review

"Behold the Dreamers' heart . . . belongs to the struggles and small triumphs of the Jongas, which Mbue traces in clean, quick-moving paragraphs." -- Entertainment Weekly

"Mbue's writing is warm and captivating." -- People (book of the week)

"[Mbue's] book isn't the first work of fiction to grapple with the global financial crisis of 2007-2008, but it's surely one of the best. . . . It's a novel that depicts a country both blessed and doomed, on top of the world, but always at risk of losing its balance. It is, in other words, quintessentially American." --NPR

"This story is one that needs to be told." -- Bust

" Behold the Dreamers challenges us all to consider what it takes to make us genuinely content, and how long is too long to live with our dreams deferred." -- O: The Oprah Magazine

"[A] beautiful, empathetic novel." -- The Boston Globe

"A witty, compassionate, swiftly paced novel that takes on race, immigration, family and the dangers of capitalist excess." -- St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"Mbue [is] a deft, often lyrical observer. . . . [Her] meticulous storytelling announces a writer in command of her gifts." --Minneapolis Star Tribune
Publisher: New York : Random House, [2016]
ISBN: 9780147523129
Characteristics: 1 sound file : digital
audio file
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc. - Distributor

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OPL_MelanieS May 01, 2018

This empathic novel follows two dissimilar families brought together during the 2008 recession. Mbue, a debut author, explores the way lives intertwine and the kinds of choices people make in times of struggle. Both heartwarming and heartbreaking, this story captures the hope and despair of the immigrant experience and those searching for the American Dream in New York City. The flawed but realistic characters of the two families make this a compelling and emotional read. The audiobook version is especially captivating.

May 01, 2018

I like immigrant stories and I frequently choose them. I see reading as a way to look into the lives of people who are radically unlike me, a white American man. What is special about this story is that we see how immigrants must be subservient to Americans in order to achieve any measure of success, as minimal as the success the main character achieves here. We also get to peer into some of the racism that African immigrants encounter, similar to what African-Americans deal with. However, there is not enough of that to really make the case. Racism exists in this story, but it hardly impacts the characters beyond the fact that many of them must live in decrepit housing in crime-ridden neighborhoods and take difficult, low paying jobs. What is also interesting in this story is how the pursuit of success in America changes Jende, the main character, from a good, kind husband and father to an angry, depressed and abusive man. Nevertheless, I found this to be a rather average story. I probably will not remember it for long.

Do yourself a favor and listen to the audio if you can. I found the African accents to be especially entertaining (and I realize the neo-colonialism inherent in that opinion.)

SnoIsleLib_DeniseD Nov 22, 2017

Prentice Onayemi's distinctively voiced narration brings this moving examination of the immigrant experience in "classless" America to life.


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