"Behold the Dreamers" by Imbolo Mbue


TITLE: Behold the Dreamers

AUTHOR: Imbolo Mbue

PUBLISHER: Random House

PUBLISHED DATE: August 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-0812998481

PAGES: 400

Very intriguing book.

Behold the Dreamers is about a couple with a 6 year old son who move from Cameroon to New York City to live the American dream. Jende, the husband, finds work chauffeuring Clark Edwards, an executive at Lehman Brothers. Jende's wife, Nneni, finds work as a domestic at the Edward's Hampton's home with Clark's wife, Cindy. Jende and Nneni are immediately taken with their new home, and find their visas expiring just at the economic downturn of 2008.

There were parts of this book that made me cringe. Jende gushing about feeling like a somebody because Clark, a white man, speaks to him. References to African Americans embarrassing themselves in front of white people, and how poorly African Americans speak... I rolled my eyes a few times while reading this book, however the writing is strong, witty, and it does portray the urgency of being undocumented in America. Mbue writes with depth, sincerity and she sprinkles in a little humor. A very inciteful look at the African immigrant experience.

***7/6/2017 - I had the opportunity to read this book for a second time, and I was blown away. I read this book pre-Trump era, and then again post, and it spoke to me so much more. There are definitely some problematic representations of African Americans - but this is a story told from an African immigrant point of view - and more often than not - this is the lens through which we are seen. However painful, it is honest. This book was recently selected for Oprah's Book Club and I feel it's well deserved.

Recommendation: It's a new voice and everyone else on the internet is raving about it, so maybe you'll like it more than I did.

Audience: Millennials and Beyond

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