Saturday, February 4, 2017

Book Review: Behold The Dreamers

Behold the Dreamers

Behold The Dreamers
Imbolo Mbue
Random House (Published August 23, 2016)
400 Pages
3.5 Stars


For fans of Americanah and The Lowland comes a debut novel about an immigrant couple striving to get ahead as the Great Recession hits home. With profound empathy, keen insight, and sly wit, Imbolo Mbue has written a compulsively readable story about marriage, class, race, and the trapdoors in the American Dream.  
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 their 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’ facades.

Then the financial world is rocked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers. Desperate to keep Jende’s job, which grows more tenuous by the day, the Jongas try to protect the Edwardses from certain truths, even as their own marriage threatens to fall apart. As all four lives are dramatically upended, Jende and Neni are forced to make an impossible choice.

My view of the book:

The basic story was good, but I feel this book was overhyped for the most part. I was not super impressed. I think had the book been 50 or so pages shorter, the story would have been just as good or better. Each of the two main characters, who were Cameroonian immigrants seemed inconsistent at times and did or said things later into the story that totally did not seem like something they would do or say based on how they acted earlier in the story. I did enjoy the interaction between Jende and Neni and the Edwards. I did enjoy the story but not as much as I hoped I would. But in defense , I was at about the half way point when I saw a spoiler in someone's review that gave away the ending, but I was still interested in the story enough to continue reading. on another aside, this is the author's debut novel and I feel she has a lot going for her and her writing will only get better with future novels. Goodreads only allows me to give full star ratings, otherwise I would rate this a 3.5 or possibly a 3.25. I do recommend this novel. The Goodreads review that I saw the spoiler on has since hidden the spoiler.

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