Cover Image: Behold the Dreamers

Behold the Dreamers

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

This book was incredible! I loved the characters and I was very invested in their story. We discussed this book in my book club, and we all had so much to say and share about immigrants, life in America, the American dream, and life around the world. I've been recommending this book to others!
Was this review helpful?
This was a delightful read for me. The author is such a beguiling storyteller and vividly brings his characters to life. As the young Cameroonian couple begins to gain a foothold in America and to fulfill their dream of ensuring their son has a good life. This is a "fresh take" on the immigrant experience as the couple experiences life and figure out what is most important for their family. I will definitely look forward to future books by this author.
Was this review helpful?
To immigrate is to never arrive. A young couple immigrates to America at the cusp of 9/11 and The Great Recession. The promise of America is dashed has they see hardship upon hardship. The solution sometimes is to stop swimming upstream and find your own place in the world.
Was this review helpful?
Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. I'll be thinking about this book for a long time. I could hardly put it down.
Was this review helpful?
The stark differences between the characters' lives in this sharply-drawn novel point to rifts within today's society that are well-worth bringing to our attention in such a dramatic and pointed way..
Was this review helpful?
This was a really touching story about the difficult of being an immigrant. It was an interesting look at the complexity of the relationships in different cultures.
Was this review helpful?
This book provided a new perspective and new knowledge on the struggles of an immigrant family and the "American dream". I greatly enjoyed this book and hope to read more by the author soon.
Was this review helpful?
A superb novel. Sympathetic characters, beautiful writing, and a moving, nuanced story.
Very highly recommended.
Was this review helpful?
This book was okay for me.  It was interesting to learn about the struggles immigrants can face.  As I have never experienced that before.  The beginning of the book went really slowly for me, but about midway through I became a little more invested and wanted to find out what happened.  It was definitely a story that transported me to another place and allowed me to walk in someone else's shoes for a while.
Was this review helpful?
I am drawn to novels like this that take me inside the immigrant experience in the US. While I enjoyed the light-hearted tone, I wasn't captivated by the writing, and really found no new insights here.
Was this review helpful?
Interesting, well-written novel about an immigrant husband and wife from Western Africa living in NYC with the husband working as a chauffeur for a Lehman Brothers executive starting a year before the financial crisis. A different take on both immigrant life and the wealthy NYC lifestyle, both funny and sad. Enjoyed it and think it should make for a good book club conversation.
Was this review helpful?
What an amazing and timely book! The plot centers around Jende and Neni Jonga,  immigrants from Cameroon,who are hoping to live the American Dream.  When Jende lands a job as a chauffeur to a senior executive at Lehman Bros, it seems that his goal may be achieved.  Neni becomes a student with aspirations of becoming a pharmacist. and a helper to her husband's employer's wife. Then, the financial world hits the skids and is destroyed, and the dreams of all , employee and employer are destroyed.
The author portrayed his characters so sensitively and realistically that you feel like you know them personally.  The anguish and sense of betrayal and loss experienced by all can be applied to today's world.  A must read!
Was this review helpful?
Thank you Netgalley for the opportunity to review this ARC of Behold the Dreamers.

Wow, what an emotional ride!  Jende Jonga and his wife Neni have arrived in Harlem on an asylum visa.  With high hopes of a permanent residency, Jende gets a coveted job chauffeuring a wealthy Wall Street mogul Clark Edwards.  In the meantime, Neni attends school to become a pharmacist.  

But things start to get really sticky once the Jongas and Edwards become a bit too involved in each others lives.  Money is tight and visas might not turn into citizenship.  Will the Jongas make it in America, the country that they have fallen dearly in love with?

This book is full of complexities and major ups and downs.  I hated and loved ALL of the characters during different times in the books.  No one is a villain, but no one is a hero either.  All of them are doing what they feel is best for their family.  This would be a fascinating book club selection, lots of great discussions!
Was this review helpful?
Eye-opening, well-written, and such an important read!
Was this review helpful?
Loved this book
Didn't want it to end
Highly recommend
Was this review helpful?
This book was very interesting. Written from the perspective of an immigrant who lands a job as a chauffeur for a wealthy man. Things seem like they are looking up, but the recession threatens the new hope and stability he has found for him and his family. It was written very well. It showed how each immigrant has his own story unique story and heartache.
Was this review helpful?
I loved this book. So much to think about in regards to immigration, especially in light of what's happening now. It was also interesting to think about how that particular financial crisis impacted all economic strata.
Was this review helpful?
From feature on Bustle.com: 
"Imbolo Mbue’s Behold the Dreamers is another debut novel that takes readers into the darker side of New York City — this time during the worst days of the 2008 housing crisis. Jende and Neni Jonga are Cameroonian immigrants who moved to New York in search of better lives for themselves and their young son — and at first everything seems to be going as planned: both Jende and Neni acquire jobs that support their family, and life in America, while different than life in Cameroon, isn’t impossible. But then the economic collapse hits and the Jonga’s employers, the Edwards family, are faced with losing everything and may not be able to employ the couple for much longer. Without the façade of wealth, the crumbling personal lives of the Edwards come to light, and both Jende and Neni begin to realize that the American Dream might not be all that it seems."
Was this review helpful?
Behold the Dreamers is the story of Jende and Neni, two Cameroonian immigrants trying to make their way in New York City with their children in the months and years just before and after the 2008 financial crisis. I'm so glad I had the chance to read this. I really feel that it opened my eyes to some of the struggles immigrants face in trying to remain in the country legally and in trying to make better lives for themselves. That said, I did think it focused a little less on the immigration narrative and the financial crisis than I'd hoped, so I'm giving this book three stars (though I do recommend giving it a read). 

Jende is an interesting character. He came to America for a better life, and he's thrilled when he lands a job as a chauffeur for a Lehman Bros. executive, Clark Edwards, and his family. He's making better money and there's some level of stability, which allows him to provide for his wife, Neni, and his son, Liomi. He always seems cheerful with this job and is unfailingly loyal to his employer, but there was just something missing for me in his character. Even with his immigration struggles, I just thought he could have fought harder or found a better way to handle things than he did. Plus, by the end, I strongly disliked him and the way he treated his wife, though some of this may be a cultural issue. I don't like overbearing men generally and hated the way what Neni wanted always seemed to be ignored.

I'd also hoped that, even though this was a story about Jende and Neni, we'd get more of a glimpse into the crisis on Wall Street, and while we do get a little of that, it isn't much. There was much more of a focus on marriage and interpersonal drama than on either the immigration narrative or the financial crisis. In a way, this probably makes sense, because immigrants have the same concerns as everyone else, but for some reason, I just expected more. 

I liked Neni for most of the book, but after she takes some extreme actions to keep her family afloat, I had trouble sympathizing with her, though I was still outraged on her behalf when Jende mistreated her or told her what to do. I wish Neni had made different choices, but again, she might have been constrained by the cultural norms that were so ingrained in her. It's hard for me to understand this, as I could never stand by and let someone else make huge decisions about my life, but I think it was consistent behavior for her character, for the most part.

Overall, I did enjoy this book, though I felt there was something missing for me. It went quickly and I always wanted to see how things would work out for Jende and Neni (as well as the Edwardses, who definitely had their own share of problems). I gave it three stars because of some unmet expectations, but I do recommend this book. I think it helps give a little insight into the immigration situation for those of us who don't really have experience with it, and it's also a good reminder of how alike we all are at a basic level, despite all of our outward differences.
*ARC from Random House via NetGalley
Was this review helpful?