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Behold The Dreamers

Behold the Dreamers - Imbolo Mbue
Jende has heard and seen (from television) that America is the best place to be. So, he finds his way to America, as Jende feels America has everything his family will need to be successful. As Jende works, he saves his money and eventually, his wife and son have the means to join him, in this land of golden opportunity.
As they settle into Harlem, Neni begins her career in home health care and studies to be a pharmacist. Jende applies for a chauffeur’s position with a Mr. Edwards which would be a major step-up from driving a taxi. America is living up to Jende expectations as he lands the position with Clark Edwards and the money starts rolling in.
Jende doesn’t understand how complicated American life really is until he’s thrown into it and now, he’s getting a taste of it. It’s not like television, Jende. There’s also the issue of immigration that he has to deal with which casts a gray cloud over his head and becomes even worse since Jende is an honest man. Neni is now expecting their second child which will now be born on American soil, so they need to get their green cards to stay in the U.S.
They are living the American dream but things get better when an opportunity arises for Neni. Asked to help out Clark’s family, Neni accepts the position and enjoys many of the benefits plus many extras. She soon discovers though that the American dream is complicated as issues come to light. As Neni gets involved, the story gets entertaining as Neni becomes a part of Cindy’s life and the children from both households meet.
I thought this was a very engaging novel. I enjoyed both families and the excitement that they brought to the novel. I enjoyed Neni and how she changed throughout the novel. When she first arrived from West Africa, she was a quiet individual but as she started to have more influence and statue, she became a powerful figure in the novel. I think each family could have learned more from each other had they been more accepting of each other. I was surprised of the ending; it wasn’t how I expected things to play out.
I did wonder: since some of the notions they got about America came from watching old television shows, do you think they would have the same feeling about America if they watched our television shows today? This was just something that I thought about ……