Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
Published in 2016
As stated in Goodreads:
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.
Loved this debut novel by Imbolo Mbue! Jende and Neni, from Cameroon, are striving to achieve the American Dream…apartment in NYC, working hard and studying long, struggling to raise a family in the United States. They have high hopes and aspirations, and with a positive outlook, they aim to achieve their goals. Clark and Cindy are American, rich and live a lavish lifestyle. Their lives are filled with pain and despair, as they desperately try to maintain their wealth and prosperity during the collapse of Lehman Brothers, a financially devastating crisis in 2008. The two couples organically provide each other with help and support as they are faced with challenges in their personal journeys.
Mbue provides valuable insight into the immigrant struggle, the perseverance and strength it takes to settle in another country, and the breaking point when home may be calling, wherever the may be. I loved the characters, their depth and their relationships with each other. A thoughtful, timely, and fast paced read.
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Imbolo Mbue is a native of Limbe, Cameroon. She holds a B.S. from Rutgers University and an M.A. from Columbia University. A resident of the United States for over a decade, she lives in New York City. BEHOLD THE DREAMERS is her first novel.