Oprah Book Club Pick: Reviewing Imbolo Mbue’s ‘Behold the Dreamers’

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Behold the Dreamers, this debut novel by Imbolo Mbue, is a must-read for all! Jende and Neni, from Cameroon, are striving to achieve the American Dream. They have an apartment in Harlem, Jende is working hard as a cab driver, Neni is studying Behold the Dreamers Imbolo Mbuelong hours, and they struggle to prosper while raising their 6 year old son.  They have high hopes and aspirations, and with good energy and a positive outlook, they work together toward their goals.

Clark and Cindy Edwards are American, rich and live a lavish lifestyle. Clark, a Lehman Brother’s executive, hires Jende to be his personal chauffeur. The men become close and Clark expects Jende’s loyalty. Cindy hires Neni to help around the house and she confides in her some personal secrets.

Despite the Edwards’ monetary success, 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 Cameroon couple find themselves with competing loyalties toward their respective employers as all their lives take a downward turn; the Edwards have financial and marital issues while Jende and Neni face immigration challenges. The two couples organically provide each other with help and support as Imbolo Mbue skillfully presents the situations and challenges of the poor immigrants vs. the wealthy Americans for us to compare and contrast.

Behold the Dreamers give us 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 that may be.  I loved the characters, their depth and their relationships with each other.  A thoughtful, timely, and fast paced read, this is Oprah’s latest book club pick!

For more reviews by great authors, click here.

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Imbolo Mbue, writer of acclaimed debut novel Behold the Dreamers, currently resides in New York City and holds a BS from Rutgers University and an MA from Columbia University. Behold the Dreamers won the 2017 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and was named as one of the most Notable Books of 2016 by The New York Times and The Washington Post. Amazon, Kirkus Reviews, as well as the San Francisco Chronicle and many other magazines and news websites named is the Best Book of 2016. In June 2017, Oprah Winfrey announced that it was chosen as the 2017 Oprah’s Book Club selection.

Jennifer Gans Blankfein is a freelance marketing consultant and book reviewer. She graduated from Lehigh University with a Psychology degree and has a background in advertising. Her experience includes event coordination and fundraising along with editing a weekly, local, small business newsletter. Jennifer loves to talk about books, is an avid reader, and currently writes a book blog, Book Nation by Jen. She lives in Connecticut with her husband, two sons and black lab.

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