Book Review: Behold the Dreamers

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Behold the Dreamers

Imbolo Mbue

Random House

380 pages

Buzzfeed has dubbed it one of the “Incredible New Books You Need to Read This Summer.” Big shoes to fill, right? Behold the Dreamers is the story of Jende Jonga, an immigrant from Cameroon who is in the US with his wife Neni and their son. Jende and Neni struggle to build a life for themselves in New York City while also dealing with the scary reality of being deported back to Cameroon. Jende’s visa is expiring and he must wage a legal battle in order to stay in the U.S.

The year is 2007 and Jende gets a job working as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a bigwig at Lehman Brothers who lives the American Dream with his wife Cindy and their two sons. As Jende’s employment stretches in to months, the relationship he forms with the Edwards family becomes less defined.

Behold the Dreamers was one of those books that gave me endless questions to think about (PERFECT BOOK CLUB BOOK). I finished it a month ago and I have so many unresolved feelings. I usually have pretty clear cut feelings when it comes to the characters I read about, but the way these characters were fleshed out was so flawed and so real, that I find myself desperately pondering their motives. I feel almost unable to judge any of them. They all made horrible, disgusting decisions at times (some of these decisions were much worse than others) but I could see their motivations and understand them in a way that made me more forgiving.

I absolutely loved this book, and will definitely count it among my favorites of 2016. The themes and characters are so relevant to today’s society.

 

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