BEHOLD THE DREAMERS BY IMBOLO MBUE
PUBLISHED BY RANDOM HOUSE
REVIEW BY HAYLEY ROHEAD
As life starts to pick up for a Cameroonian man seeking asylum in New York City, the GFC hits and events spiral down from the Wall Street elite, towards him.
Jende Jonga is in New York. He arrived on a tourist visa, and then as he had always planned, did not return home. He struggles through the American immigration system, and finds it difficult to get a job will support his wife and son, who he has brought over from Cameroon. Life is hard for the Jonga family, but they see that their children will have better opportunities in America than they would have if they stayed in Cameroon.
Their lives are made lighter when Jende gets a job as a driver for an elite Wall Street family. A position he is very grateful for. It becomes more than just driving as Jende is able to be somewhat of a confidant to his high-powered boss, a shoulder to cry on, and advise giver to the family’s children.
Though life was of course tough on every New Yorker during the GFC, the Jonga family could not escape the inevitable downfall. As the harsh realities of a life in unemployment as an immigrant with no stable status in the world’s most expensive city take hold of Jende, he begins to change as a person. He becomes an angry man, a man plagued by stress, and at times take his anger out on his wife. Jende then makes a decision, without consulting his family. A decision that will alter their lives forever, one which might rip his family apart.
I enjoyed this story. Mbue can tell a brilliant story. She has worked in the hope and despair that every character feels with each event in such a believable way. How Jende goes from a happy man to an angry man was completely believable, unpleasant in some parts to read, but believable. I you want to read something that is both uplifting and sad, this is the book for you.
Find this novel in store at Planet Books. Ask the friendly staff for guidance too, and they’ll be more than happy to order you in a copy if it’s already sold out.