Download Kindle ⚖ Behold the Dreamers ⚉

4.5 StarsImbolo Mbue s debut novel, Behold the Dreamers takes a look at the immigrant dream of life in the United States, with promises of bigger, better than wherever you came from Undoubtedly, there can be truth to that, but what happens to that dream when it seems elusive, out of reach or comes undone I was hooked right from the start by the story of Jende Jongo, formerly of Limbe, Cameroon, finding a dream job as a chauffeur for an executive at Lehman Brothers, in the year 2007 He s been driving a cab in NYC, but better pay and a better car to drive are not the only thing that makes this job such a break, by driving a Lehman Brothers executive Jende feels he has achieved a point of pride in his work There s humor in Mbue s writing about the everyday life in America, the thought process of the shopping experience in America, coming from an environment where negotiating prices is the norm There are also the astonishments of the new immigrants experience with the availability of so much in one place, and the availability of the finer places to shop for clothing There s also a heavy dose of the reality how many difficulties may be encountered by those who come looking for a better life in America As Dorothy comes to realize, there s no place like home when she s in Oz, but then back at Auntie Em s she dreams of life in Oz A heart divided Jende heart is at odds between the things he has come to love about this new life, the things he misses about life in Limbe, his family there Neni can t bear to think of leaving everything they ve worked for Charming, truly compelling story, Behold the Dreamers is a wonderful debut novel about where we sometimes choose to call home Publication Date 23 August 2016Many thanks to Random House Publishing Group, NetGalley, and to the author, Imbolo Mbue Different things are important to different people Behold the Dreamers captured me from the very first chapter I was actually planning on picking this up closer to its release date, but decided at the last minute to just read a line or two to see if it would work in my favor or not And wow, did it impress for the first half.This tells the tale of a family of three living in Harlem, New York Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant, has come to the United States to provide a better life for himself, his wife, Neni, and their six year old sonAs often as she could, she sat in the library to do her homework, or went to office hours to hound professors for advice on what she needed to do to get better grades so she could get into a great pharmacy school She was going to make herself proud, make Jende proud of his wife, make Liomi proud of his mother She d waited too long to become something, and now, at thirty three, she finally had, or was close enough to having, everything she s ever wanted in life It s really been a while since a book made me think, justonechapter But Imbolo Mbue weaved together such an intricate story that I was left feeling truly attached to this family.I was rooting for Nini whenever we got to read snippets of her studying I felt truly inspired to start studying myself after finishing the book And I just have so much admiration for her determination I think I highlighted one too many parts of this book because of it And fun fact we both hate the smell of coffee It also discussed the topic of immigration in a really eye opening wayListen to me, Bubakar said, somewhat impatiently As far as Immigration is concerned, there are many things that are illegal and many that are gray, and by gray I mean the things that are illegal but which the government doesn t want to spend time worrying about You understand me, abi My advice to someone like you is to always stay close to the gray area and keep yourself and your family safe Stay away from any place where you run into police that s the advice I give to you and to all the young black men in this country The police is for the protection of white people, my brother Maybe black women and black children sometimes, but not black men Never black men Black men and police are palm oil and water And not only immigration, but a lot of topics were handled so well I felt like the author took everything I didn t know how to articulate and put it on paper And those types of books the kind that open up your heart and educate you will stay with me for a long time.But circling back to the plot of this story, Jende can hardly believe his luck when he lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers.Everything is seemingly going okay for the Jongas Jende s immigration court date seems to be years from now, Neni is acing her precalculus finals thanks to the help of her instructor, and Liomi is doing well in his classes.But then the financial world is rocked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers And Jende and Neni have to stay strong in order to keep their family togetherPlease let s not think like that, Neni said You have a job for now, eh As long as we have Mr Edwards, we have a job Are we not better off today than all those people walking out of Lehman Look at them I just feel so sorry for them But then, we don t know what s on the road coming for us, too We just don t know So let s only be happy that today we were spared They continuously encourage each other to be hopeful, to believe that they would one day realize the dream of becoming Americans But everything was about to change, one way or another, for everyone in this country.So, as great as those 100 200 first pages were, the ending really, really bothered me I hated how horrendous Jende s actions were and was even appalled when he acted as if nothing out of the ordinary happened Justhis sudden change of character towards the end didn t sit well with me.And Neni s hate towards other girls threw me out of the story as wellCindy s things she planned to reserve for special occasions She would wear them to weddings and anniversaries to show those girls that even though she had returned home and was living among them, she was not one of them she was now a woman of class, with real designer items, and none of them could compete with her Overall, a great introduction to a compelling family, but with a number of problematic behaviours and flaws while unraveling their story ARC kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.3.5 starsNote I m an Affiliate If you re interested in buying Behold the Dreamers, just click on the image below to go through my link I ll make a small commissionSupport creators you love Buy a Coffee for nat bookspoils with Ko bookspoils This review and can be found on my blog. Download Kindle ♺ Behold the Dreamers ⚖ 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 , 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 FutureHowever, The World Of Great Power And Privilege Conceals Troubling Secrets, And Soon Jende And Neni Notice Cracks In Their Employers Fa AdesWhen 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 Although the novel takes place in 2008 , even now eight years since then , this is an extremely relevant story given this current political discourse on the immigration issue Jende Jonga in efforts to get his green card explains to Clark Edwards, in his interview for a job as chauffeur why he wants to be in America Everyone wants to come to America, sir Everyone To be in this country, sir To live in this country Ah It s the greatest thing in the world, Mr.EdwardsBecause because in my country, sir, Jende said for you to become somebody, you have to be born somebody first You do not come from a family with a name, forget it That is just how it is, sir Someone like me, what can I ever become in a country like Cameroon I came from nothing No name No money, my father is a poor man Cameroon has nothing This dream to stay in America for Jende and his wife Neni , a dream to become somebody and have a good life for their children is the center of this story but yet it becomes about a lot as Jende and Neni s future become so tied to Clark Edwards and his wife Cindy They get pulled into the personal affairs of Clark and Cindy , become their confessors of sorts , telling their inner most feelings and pasts Yet Jende and Neni have their own burdens, trying to keep from getting deported and having to use some of their savings to help their family in Cameroon But then the burdens become greater as they are asked by Clark and Cindy to keep their secrets which they must in order to keep their jobs.So much of making their dream come true is dependent on money and so much of their dream is to have money The timing of the story taking place as Clark s employer , Lehman goes bankrupt reflects on a larger scale what people will do for money There are a number of acts of desperation that happen here, making the characters less than likable even though I felt sorry for their helplessness at times.I learned a good bit about the difficulties of immigrant families and the process of trying to stay in this country I would like to have seen Jende and Neni s story play out without the link to the Lehman bankruptcy I was surprised at the ending but not sure that it could have gone any other way.Thanks to Random House Publishing Group Random House. 3.5 I went back and forth, trying to decide whether or not I liked any of these characters, except form the young children of course who were victims of circumstances they could not control Was pretty sure I liked Jende for most of the book until he did something I abhorred Nein too does something, out of desperation, but I did not much like her for it The Edwards, Cindy and Clark were pretty much representative of the privileged culture, or at least how they are usually portrayed I did eventually sympathize with them all for various reasons and in the end that didn t matter to me so much as the story If it shows nothing else it definitely showed the disconnect between immigrants, the privileged and even those who were born here So a worthy and timely read, especially here in the USA where one of our presidential nominees is running on a platform of fear, hatred and bigotry This book shows how tenuous the hold on their lives are for some Lawyer fees, trying to get papers to stay in this country, work toward a better for themselves and their families The author set this just before the collapse of our economy in 2008 and in fact Clark Edward works for Lehman Brothers as an executive, as he loses his job, his marriage disintegrates as does the future of Jende s family Jobs are now scarce, college educated people willing to take the jobs the immigrants once occupied So many lost their houses and their livelihoods I enjoyed reading about the difference in their lives between New York, living in Harlem and Cameroon, where they are from The ending surprised me somewhat, well I didn t expect the direction it took But, for this family it made sense This novel is not perfect and like most probably doesn t reflect all but it does give the reader an inside view of one such immigrant family A well told and thought out story, this the author s first ARC from publisher. Sometimes, a novel arrives at just the right moment.Here we are in a crater of xenophobia One of our presidential candidates is foaming at the mouth about extreme vetting for immigrants But then along comes 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 While another author might have played that imperative title sarcastically, for Imbolo Mbue, Behold the Dreamers is a kind of angelic annunciation of hope, which ultimately makes her story even poignant.After a childhood of extreme poverty, Mbue came to this country in 1998 recent enough to retain the optimism of an immigrant but long enough to understand our national schizophrenia about foreigners Her novel is about a family from Cameroon living in Harlem on the eve of striking disruption The United States is about to elect its first black president and descend into the Great Recession But Jende Jonga, the hero of this tale, has his mind set on only one thing becoming a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a hotshot Lehman Brothers executive Jende and his wife, Neni, have been preparing for the interview for days They ve spent hours googling the one question they ask at every job interview With the help of a volunteer at the library, they ve written up a r sum that describes Jende as a man of grand accomplishments farmer, street cleaner To read the rest of this review, go to The Washington Post https entert To watch my interview with Imbolo Mbue at The Washington Post, click here https poststyle vi 3 stars There were many things I liked about Behold the Dreamer, but in significant ways it ended up feeling like a missed opportunity Imbolo Mbue tells the story of married couple Jende and Nemi, who have moved from Cameroon to New York City to pursue their dream of a better life in America The story is told from their alternating points of view Jende works as a chauffeur for a high finance guy who works on Wall Street in 2008 at the time of the financial collapse, and Nemi works odd jobs and goes to college hoping ultimately to become a pharmacist The set up is really good, and Jende and Nemi are strong multi dimmensional characters Mbue conveys a strong sense of the Cameroon they left, what led them to leave their home, their continuous financial struggle to live in New York and the precariousness of their attempt to gain legal status in the US But there were many ways in which the story lacks the depth its set up promised Most notably, much of the story is taken up with the relationship Jende and Nemi develop with Jende s employer and his family, and that aspect of the story felt overly dramatic, cartoonish and ultimately a bit too sentimental While Jende and Nemi are rich characters when they deal with each other and other members of the Cameroon community in New York, they seemed to lose dimension when dealing with this wealthy Manhattan family and the family itself felt like it was composed of types rather than real people I felt that Mbue could have done so much with the dynamics in the relationships between these characters Having said that, the strengths of Mbue s first novel are sufficient to make me want to read her next novel Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy. Thank you to my friend Lisi who gave me a dozen books that she herself hadn t read but were on my TBR list on Goodreads The books came with red dots on the binding She only wants the red dots book back if I m sure she will love it YES, LISI you ll love this book.I ve read other books about The Lehman Brothers and the global financial crisis and lived through it I ve read many fiction stories about immigration.but this was the first book where I ve read a novel of the two topics combined The brilliant combo opened my awareness into corners of our country and deeper insights into the immigrant experience than most all other books I ve read on immigration Imbolo Mbue wrote an outstanding novel a strong 5 stars for me Oprah pick or not but I can sure understand the choice The book reveals the realities of the American Dream and re think our beliefs Jende Jonga and his wife Neni the African couple who worked for Clark and Cindy Clark Clark being executive for Lehman Brothers shines the light on many drawbacks in the United States It was very easy to have empathy for Jende and Neni Their future looked scary after the Collapse of Lehman Brothers I also deeply cared for their happiness together and for their child It was a little harder to feel that same empathy for the wealthy American couple but actually in the end I felt empathy for them too Humanity is humanity Painful disappointments and challenges affect people of every race class and color Wonderful storytelling with great characters with many trials tribulations and triumphs.Page turning Relevant complex issues I thoroughly enjoyed it. You think I don t want to remain in America, too You think I came to America so that I can leave I work as a servant to people, driving them all over, the whole day, sometimes the whole week, answering yes sir, yes madam, bowing down even to a little child For what, Neni What pride are you talking about I lower myself than many men would ever lower themselves What do you think I do it for For you, for me Because I want us to say in America But if America says they don t want us in their country, you think I m going to keep on begging them for the rest of my life Never Not for one dayImbolo Mbue s Behold the Dreamers had its highs and lows I d like to first say that I love that Mbue is a native of Limbe, Cameroon Rather than telling a story from hearsay and secondhand experiences, she was able to paint a realistic portrait of a modern day Cameroonian family The inflection in their tone and dialogue, their traditions, they all came through brilliantly here Yet this, unfortunately, wasn t enough for me to give this one high praise Behold the Dreamers was a wonderful title for a work that told a story of exactly that a family with dreams in their eyes and a determination to fight for a good life in America the Great The writing was simple particularly for the first large chunk, 40% or so It was as simple as a burlap sack, and it was a bit too rudimentary to really pull me in It definitely DID NOT strike me as literary fiction, which some have labeled it as On the other hand, I will say that it was culturally enlightening to read about the traditions of the Cameroonians, to recognize the cadence in their voices as different from those of their American counterparts That dialogue between the immigrants read jauntily, authentically, than any of the other dialogue in this novel, the only thing that seemed dazzlingly organic, and that was a let down for me There were assuming plot leaps that lurched the timeline forward in a way that made me feel I d missed something, where I, as a reader, missed the growth of the characters and how their bonds with one another grew or were sullied, and that made the read less enthralling It made me invest less in it This wasn t like plot twists that kept you guessing this isn t some mystery or thriller but major life decisions that the reader had no warning were even possible, even a thought process in the characters minds, that just tumbled into the plot That, to me, was a sure sign of the author s inability to weave a plot with finesse It felt like I was on a bumpy car trip, feeling every pothole and speed bump Definitely not a luxury car ride And then there was the fact that it took way too long for any meaningful action to transpire This novel was set on the backdrop of the collapse of the housing bubble the protagonist s employer worked in a high up position and Lehman Bros but I literally didn t even notice that this was part of the plot until after I finished reading it It was stated, yes, but it wasn t made an integral enough part of the plot to make me feel the tension By the time I looked at my counter to see that I was over 40% of the way through this novel, I was shocked at how little I was invested in the characters, at how much valuable space had gone to waste in telling the story thus far There was a high point where the action picked up and it looked like character evolution would take place like Neni would fight the traditions of her upbringing and stand on her own, like she would go to bat and battle her hardest for her dreams, which is what she came to America to do But then I landed with a heavy flop at that ending and literally said to myself, Oh, I d better not turn this page for this to be it Literally, imagine me sitting at my computer, finger poised over the right arrow saying, Oh, this had better not be it only to find that when I did turn the page, that was it view spoiler Without totally spoiling the plot for anyone, I ll say that this one ended with the characters not having fully transformed A cliche bow tie ending it was not, but it was still a deeply unsatisfying way to go out, my goodness hide spoiler This novel resonates with contemporary social and political issues dominating in the US, Europe and Australia, where there is a growing and visceral tide of hatred and rage against immigrants Imbolo Mbue has written an illuminating book on the immigrant experience amidst the hollowness of the American dream set in New York The story is told from the perspectives of Jende Jongo, and his wife, Nemi, who are from Cameroon dreaming of a better future in their new home They have a son, Liomi, for whom they have high hopes The stage is set for an exploration of their precarious lives buffeted by economic and social forces beyond their control as the 2008 financial collapse is described in terms of its human cost.Jende is working as a cabbie when he lands the dream job of chauffeur to Lehman s executive, Clark Edward, who demands Jende keeps his secrets and give him his absolute loyalty The two men become close and Clark s wife, Cindy, gives his wife, Nemi, a job as a housekeeper Cindy confides her thoughts and secrets to Nemi who is hard working and hoping to become a pharmacist We are given an in depth insight into the laborious and costly process of trying to acquire a green card The spectacular collapse of Lehman has enormous repercussions on the Edward family Clark loses his job and the strain on his marriage results in its collapse Jende and Nemi find themselves with divided loyalties and caught up in the slipstream of these events, and there is a simultaneous similarity as their future comes under threat We observe the contrasts between a family of privilege and a family with little and the power dynamic in the relationship between the two We see the yearnings for home, Cameroon, whilst trying to fit into a new home, the eternal immigrant heart caught between two worlds.The novel perhaps underscores the naivete of the dreams of the immigrant given the harsh reality of the world Mbue touches on the issues of race, culture, violence, pain, and the impact of male decisionmaking on women The writing is beautiful at times although the characters and plot feel a little uneven on occasion However, this takes nothing away from a novel that is a timely and pertinent story that carries an authentic picture of an immigrant experience The characters of Jende and Nemi are complex and captured my interest easily I loved the portrayal of their home country and their connections with it A wonderful and insightful book that I recommend highly Thanks to HarperCollins 4th Estate for an ARC.