Perrot Book Discussion - BEHOLD THE DREAMERS
Our book discussion series in conjunction with the Perrot Memorial Library kicks off on Monday, January 28th at 7pm in the Rand Room. Diane Morello will facilitate an examination of BEHOLD THE DREAMERS by Imbolo Mbue.
Jende and Neni Jonga arrive in America from Cameroon to make a home with their son
Liomi. After a series of low-skilled jobs, Jende gets a job in late 2007 as a chauffeur for a
Lehman Brothers executive. Jende and Neni use the improved income to make a home in
Harlem, enroll Neni in pharmacy school, and hire an immigration lawyer to help Jende
qualify for political asylum and thus remain in the United States.
The American dream is sweet for them—until a cascade of events weakens their
foundation. Jende and Neni get pummeled by immigration bureaucracy, financial losses,
unemployment, and growing resentment from the executive and his wealthy family.
Jende, ever more disillusioned and angry, views America as a land of no opportunity. Neni
sees America as her future and fears what will become of her if she follows Jende’s path.
Behold the Dreamers is a masterful take on the American dream, so alluring from afar and
so mystifying up close. Fortunately, Imbolo Mbue never lets readers forget that human
hearts beat at the center of the story, and we feel both joy and heartache as the Jongas
navigate the highs and lows of America. Behold the Dreamers will remain with readers
long after the last page, compelling them to ask whether the American dream is possible
for all or only for those born into it.