Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, has come to the United States to provide a better life for himself, his wife, Neni, and their six-year-old son. In the fall of 2007, Jende can hardly believe his luck when he lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Clark demands punctuality, discretion, and loyalty—and Jende is eager to please. Clark’s wife, Cindy, even offers Neni temporary work at the Edwardses’ summer home in the Hamptons. With these opportunities, Jende and Neni can at last gain a foothold in America and imagine a brighter future.
However, the world of great power and privilege conceals troubling secrets, and soon Jende and Neni notice cracks in their employers’ façades. When the financial world is rocked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Jongas are desperate to keep Jende’s job—even as their marriage threatens to fall apart. As all four lives are dramatically upended, Jende and Neni are forced to make an impossible choice.
Thoughts: "I don't like how people say to a woman, oh you want so many things, why do you want so many things? When I was young my father said to me, one day you're going to learn that you're a woman and you should not want too many things; like I should just be happy with my life even if it's not the kind of life I want..... I am not ashamed of wanting many things in my life. Tomorrow when my daughter grows up I will tell her to want whatever she wants, the same thing I tell my son".
Yes Neni, a thousand times YES!!! Behold the Dreamers is a powerful look at the plight of women across cultures and the incredible struggle of immigrants who desperately want to obtain citizenship here in America. Given our current political climate regarding immigration, this book is timely and necessary. The character development in this book was excellent and I desperately wanted things to work out for Jende and Neni. My heart broke the most for Neni -- she sacrificed so much and her treatment at the end was incredibly frustrating and hard to accept, especially knowing that Jende’s attitude towards Neni is the norm for so many women. 4 thought provoking stars.