Today I concluded reading “Behold The Dreamers” by Imbolo Mbue. Because it was recomended by Oprah’s Book Club, I thought the experience worthwhile given my burgeoning affection for contemporary fiction works. The book was as arduous as it was ingratiating. I was engrossed and determined to remain past bedtime to complete the narrative. Mbue’s impressive 500 page journey chronicles the path of a Cameroonian couple, Neni and Jende Jonga. They arrive in America’s Empire State searching for the American dream. They face conundrums involving, gender, race, indentity, and loyalty. Mbue gets credit for writing a intimate portrait about black immigrants working for a better life.
What makes Mbue’s story discrete: It openly challenges arcane the philosophy that immigrants want to augment the American Christian faith. It makes poignant the curiosity that every human has when acclimating to new places. It even asks gracefully for Americans to analyze why only those with education are perceived to have employment opportunities.
Mbue surveys a rich American family and trumpets why acquiring money does not erase human struggle. The white American family that employs Jende Jonga are rich in things but other problems remain that money cannot fix. Inside their home is a imperfect marriage, average children, and a social circle that seems to be dwindling steadily.
Readers can take Mbue’s book and remind themselves of the marked cultural differences between native Africans, African-Americans, and American whites. While some differences are unmistakable. Mbue reminds us all to think beyond racial prejudices and peer into the humanity of everyone.
Everyone gets something in “Behold The Dreams”. Whether its the banal humor of the crackpot attorney or the ascetic severity of Jende Jonga. Mbue aims for a values-based portrait of immigrant life in America. She always weaves complex historical metaphors when discussing the American economy, Barack Obama, and identity politics.
Why should one read “Behold The Dreamers”?
Although it’s fiction, the book showcases an invaluable lesson about the depth of human character, how images are shattered when people have taken time to move beyond their assumptions.