Behold the Dreamers

Random. Aug. 2016. 400p. ISBN 9780812998481. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780812998498. F
This heartfelt and intimate portrayal of African immigrants trying to make it in New York City around 2007 focuses on the family of Jende Jonga from Cameroon. He lands a job as a chauffeur for a wealthy finance industry boss and is then able to bring his wife, Neni, and their young son over from Africa. Neni enrolls in college and is hired as a cleaner and nanny for the family for whom Jende works, and they become more involved with these superrich people who have problems of their own. As the Wall Street financial crisis deepens, Jende loses his job, and their application for asylum is rejected. The incredible pressures of poverty, limited opportunities, and the grind of New York City and an uncertain future stress the family to the breaking point as a new baby is born and they struggle not to lose sight of their dream. Mbue's debut portrays these individuals realistically and sympathetically as the stresses of surviving in New York City lead to marital difficulties and physical confrontations.
VERDICT A fast-paced, engaging read with an interesting cross-cultural background. [See Prepub Alert, 2/8/16.]
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