“Behold the dreamers” is the debut novel of Imbolo Mbue, a Cameroonian writer. It was my first time of reading a Cameroonian writer and I honestly fell in love. I could barely stop till I finished!
She tells the story of the American dream from different perspectives: the Jenga family and the Edwards family.
Jenga and his family move to New York, America for a better life but in the aftermath of the global financial crisis and with immigration challenges, they move back to Cameroon.
Mr. Edwards is an American executive working with Lehman brothers in New York. He employs Jenga as a chauffeur. When we first meet them, he and his family seem to living the American dream at the beginning of the novel but also go through various changes and decide to move closer to their extended family in another state at the end of the novel. It is unfortunate that it takes the death of his wife for that to happen.
I loved the various themes the author brought up: teenage pregnancy, parenting, marriage, family, the American dream, drugs, homosexuality, faith/religion, immigration laws, remittances, parental expectations, home, infidelity, domestic violence/abuse, employment, the global financial crisis, blackmail, social class, the global financial crisis etc. I loved how relatable the novel was.
I loved the writing style! I loved the French words she interspersed to show their Cameroonian heritage. The back histories helped to put a lot of things in perspective. Her descriptions were very vivid to the extent that I could almost taste the foods they were eating. Her dialogues were also very down to earth and very realistic. I also loved the suspense although it was painful while reading…lol
I loved her characters and their development. It was very great how most of the characters had their good and bad sides. Neni was my favourite character. She had balls!!!! It was interesting how she chose her marriage over the USA. I felt really sorry for Mrs. Edwards and wished she had asked for help.
I loved the book and learnt a lot from it. Some take aways for me were that things are not always what they seem and you make your own happiness.
I wish the author had saved Mrs. Edwards but I guess her death was the sacrifice she made to bring her family back together.
I totally recommend the book!
Angela Azumah Alu