This November we’ve picked a family saga that’s been on our #tbr (to-be-read list) for quite awhile. Well, for about three years which is like a decade in book nerd years. Cameroon native Imbolo Mbue’s best-selling debut novel Behold the Dreamers was released in 2016. It won the coveted spot as Oprah’s Book Club selection for 2017. It won the 2017 Pen/Faulkner Award for Fiction, was named a New York Times Book Review notable book of the year, and was on numerous lists as one of the best books of 2017.
The high praise seems endless. And the story is still just as relevant and topical as it was three years ago. Set during the 2008 financial crisis, Mbue’s novel follows two disparate families; the Edwards family and the Jonga family. Clark Edwards is a senior executive at Lehman Brothers, he and his family live a life of wealth and privilege in New York City (with a home in the Hamptons on the side). Jende Jonga, his wife Neni, and their six-year-old son have come to the United States from Cameroon looking for a better life. Jende counts himself lucky when he gets a job as Clark Edward’s chauffeur. Jende’s wife Neni is even offered seasonal work at the Edward’s home in the Hamptons. But shortly thereafter Lehman brothers, and the global economy, collapses.
“Bright and captivating… illuminates the immigrant experience in America with the tenderhearted wisdom so lacking in our political discourse.”
—The Washington Post
The Jonga family struggles to find home, freedom and stability in a new world. The Edwards family struggles behind the facade of privilege and financial crisis. Each of the four lives course through their own unique conflict, but ultimately the Jonga family finds themselves having to make a nearly impossible decision.
A story of immigration, family, and privilege could not be more timely. We’re looking forward to reading more about the paths these two families take. The book’s numerous accolades don’t hurt either. But we hope you’ll read with us! Want to know how?
- pick up a copy and read along with us anytime before the end of November
- keep us posted on any thoughts or progress you wanna share social using #booklymark and tagging @thebooklyclub
- stay tuned for our discussion post on Instagram and our reviews here on the blog so we can chat all about it!
Happy reading, x