Behold the Dreamers

Behold the Dreamers

A Novel

Audiobook CD - 2016
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At the intersection of "Americanah" and "The Help" comes a riveting debut novel about two marriages - one immigrant and working class, the other from the top 1% - both chasing their version of the American Dream. In the fall of 2007, Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Their situation only improves when Jende's son Neni is hired as household help. But in the course of their work, Jende and Neni begin to witness infidelities, skirmishes, and family secrets. Then, with the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers, a tragedy changes all four lives forever, and the Jongas must decide whether to continue fighting to stay in a recession-ravaged America or give up and return home to Cameroon.
Publisher: New York : Penguin Random House, 2016
ISBN: 9780147523099
Characteristics: 10 audio discs (12 hr., 14 min.) : digital ; 4 3/4 in
Additional Contributors: Onayemi, Prentice


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May 01, 2018

I like immigrant stories and I frequently choose them. I see reading as a way to look into the lives of people who are radically unlike me, a white American man. What is special about this story is that we see how immigrants must be subservient to Americans in order to achieve any measure of success, as minimal as the success the main character achieves here. We also get to peer into some of the racism that African immigrants encounter, similar to what African-Americans deal with. However, there is not enough of that to really make the case. Racism exists in this story, but it hardly impacts the characters beyond the fact that many of them must live in decrepit housing in crime-ridden neighborhoods and take difficult, low paying jobs. What is also interesting in this story is how the pursuit of success in America changes Jende, the main character, from a good, kind husband and father to an angry, depressed and abusive man. Nevertheless, I found this to be a rather average story. I probably will not remember it for long.

Do yourself a favor and listen to the audio if you can. I found the African accents to be especially entertaining (and I realize the neo-colonialism inherent in that opinion.)

SnoIsleLib_DeniseD Nov 22, 2017

Prentice Onayemi's distinctively voiced narration brings this moving examination of the immigrant experience in "classless" America to life.


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