Behold the Dreamers (Oprah's Book Club)

Behold the Dreamers (Oprah's Book Club)

by Imbolo Mbue
4.3 22


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Behold the Dreamers (Oprah's Book Club) by Imbolo Mbue

A compulsively readable debut novel about marriage, immigration, class, race, and the trapdoors in the American Dream—the unforgettable story of a young Cameroonian couple making a new life in New York just as the Great Recession upends the economy

New York Times Bestseller • Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award • Longlisted for the PEN/Open Book Award • An ALA Notable Book

NPR • The New York Times Book Review • San Francisco Chronicle • The Guardian • St. Louis Post-Dispatch • Chicago Public Library • BookPage • Refinery29 • Kirkus Reviews 

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.

Praise for Behold the Dreamers

“A debut novel by a young woman from Cameroon that illuminates the immigrant experience in America with the tenderhearted wisdom so lacking in our political discourse . . . Mbue is a bright and captivating storyteller.”The Washington Post

“A capacious, big-hearted novel.”The New York Times Book Review

“Behold the Dreamers’ heart . . . belongs to the struggles and small triumphs of the Jongas, which Mbue traces in clean, quick-moving paragraphs.”Entertainment Weekly

“Mbue’s writing is warm and captivating.”People (book of the week)

“[Mbue’s] book isn’t the first work of fiction to grapple with the global financial crisis of 2007–2008, but it’s surely one of the best. . . . It’s a novel that depicts a country both blessed and doomed, on top of the world, but always at risk of losing its balance. It is, in other words, quintessentially American.”—NPR

“This story is one that needs to be told.”Bust 

Behold the Dreamers challenges us all to consider what it takes to make us genuinely content, and how long is too long to live with our dreams deferred.”O: The Oprah Magazine

“[A] beautiful, empathetic novel.”The Boston Globe

“A witty, compassionate, swiftly paced novel that takes on race, immigration, family and the dangers of capitalist excess.”St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Mbue [is] a deft, often lyrical observer. . . . [Her] meticulous storytelling announces a writer in command of her gifts.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780525509714
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/26/2017
Series: Oprah's Book Club Series
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 1,482
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Imbolo Mbue is a native of the seaside town of Limbe, Cameroon. She holds a BS from Rutgers University and an MA from Columbia University. A resident of the United States for more than a decade, she lives in New York City.

Behold the Dreamers, her critically acclaimed debut novel, won the 2017 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and was named by The New York Times and The Washington Post as one of the notable books of 2016. It was also named as a best book of 2016 by NPR, Kirkus Reviews, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The novel also won the 2017 Blue Metropolis Words to Change Prize.

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Behold the Dreamers: A Novel 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beautifully written. Characters fully realized. A Camaroonian couple who want to make a better life in America and a wealthy Wall Street couple who employ them. Their children and friends and relatives. Themes of love and family and aspirations and identity -- and struggles (to thrive or just survive, to provide for themselves & their children, to work through their marriages & their dreams). You become immersed in their ups and downs. Humor and joy mixed with sadness. Takes place just before & during the financial great recession. A must read novel.
Anonymous 10 months ago
The only word that I can use to describe this book is unflinching. It puts the American dream into another perspective. This is the best book that I have read since another book called When God Stopped Keeping Score, which I highly recommend by far. Thank you Oprah for introducing this book to the world.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a reader I was taken to places they went in their daily lives and the highs and lows the dealt with. Excellent story. I did not want it to end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful story so full of love and tragedy , beautifully written , hopefully more stories from this talented woman
Anonymous 8 months ago
Enjoyable reminder of opportunities our country offers. Also great observations on our country's weaknesses.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous 4 months ago
I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed this book and have since passed it along to friends who loved it as well. It's well written, has a few twists and turns and has a beautiful message. Highly recommended.
Anonymous 4 months ago
Behold the Dreamers was different from any other book I've read. It was an excellent story of two families from different worlds but facing similar marital issues. I look forward to her next book!
Anonymous 5 months ago
Couldn't put it down
Anonymous 7 months ago
The name of the book is Behold the Dreamers but there is little hopeful about this book. While it is thought provoking at many times, it ultimately left me feeling like I had wasted my time. The author did a good job of portraying the plight of a poor African immigrant and showing the parallels between the the families in the story- the White wealthy family led by a Wall Street stockbroker named Clark and the Cameroonian immigrant family lead by the stockbroker's chauffeur, Jende They have many of the same issues despite socioeconomic, racial and cultural differences. But at the end of the day, many of these characters have few redeeming qualities. I guess that is her point? People are flawed. But I didn't need this book to remind me of that. There is little inspirational about this book. The characters react and do what you expect them to do under the circumstances. There is little character growth at the end of the book. There wives of both men maintain their traditional roles . I had such great hope for them and expected a younger woman writer to write a less conventional path for them. I was supremely disappointed at the end of the book that things turned out the way they did. I realize part of that disappointment may be my American bias on what I think the American dream is. I don't doubt that many immigrants end up like these characters but I didn't need a novel to point that out, I can easily read these type of accounts in the media. The author offered nothing new in her portrayal of the characters which made me wonder why she wrote the book in the first place. What message was she seeking to convey- life is hard? Okay, and then what? I was completely done with the book when near the end, Jende commits a horrible act that is glossed over, accepted as the status quo and not addressed further. He neither suffers any consequences for the actions nor does anything to redeem himself. I continued to read the book to the the end, but by that time I was no longer cheering for him. The act seemed uncharacteristic of his nature, based on how the author had portrayed him in the book. I don't think she needed to go there, especially if she was not going thoroughly examine the behavior. Despite winning a literary award for this novel and Oprah's stamp of approval, I will not be recommending this to others. If you want good novels about the immigrant experience in America, read Edwidge Danticat. This does not measure up to her works.
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Banz 10 months ago
Good Love this book, and Take a $5 coupons for Barnes from:
Anonymous 10 months ago
Can't wait for the next one
rdgit More than 1 year ago
Behold the Dreamers An immigrant couple from Cameroon, Jende and Neni, establish a relationship with a wealthy man working for Lehman Brothers and his family. The plot drew my interest and I found it hard to put the book down because I genuinely liked the immigrant couple and I needed to know what the future held for them. Both of them seemed to be good family oriented, ambitious, hard working people wanting to make it in New York city. As the couple’s lives became more tied to the rich couple, I became more engrossed. But then, what happened midway through the book entirely changed my opinion. Without giving too much away, there was an incident that changed my thoughts of Jendi and Neni. They were no longer the couple I was pulling for earlier in the book and their values and morals were no longer desirable. I believe this change in character is a major flaw in the book. I don’t believe the author meant to tell the story of two questionable people and their escapades in New York city. I think she somehow didn’t see a conflict with this couple, as if what they did was perfectly fine. But it wasn’t. There doesn’t seem to be a good moral of the story, at least not one that I would be proud of.
Anonymous 8 months ago
Well written. Great opportunity to write a sequel detailing their life as a wealthy family back in Cameroon.
Anonymous 9 months ago
At least they had someplace to go home to where they were welcomed and had made, by hook and crook, enough to start new. Many poor, undereducated, unskilled American born have nowhere to go. Interesting book and thought provoking but I would have liked more about Winston. The Edward's story felt contrived.
Anonymous 10 months ago
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