Behold the Dreamers (Oprah's Book Club): A Novel

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Book Rating (105)

Narrator Rating (29)

Written By: Imbolo Mbue

Narrated By: Prentice Onayemi

Date: August 2016

Duration: 12 hours 13 minutes


A compulsively readable debut novel about marriage, immigration, class, race, and the trapdoors in the American Dream—the unforgettable story of a young Cameroonian couple making a new life in New York just as the Great Recession upends the economy

New York Times Bestseller • Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award • Longlisted for the PEN/Open Book Award • An ALA Notable Book

NPR • The New York Times Book Review • San Francisco Chronicle • The Guardian • St. Louis Post-Dispatch • Chicago Public Library • BookPage • Refinery29 • Kirkus Reviews 

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.

Praise for Behold the Dreamers

“A debut novel by a young woman from Cameroon that illuminates the immigrant experience in America with the tenderhearted wisdom so lacking in our political discourse . . . Mbue is a bright and captivating storyteller.”—The Washington Post

“A capacious, big-hearted novel.”—The New York Times Book Review

“Behold the Dreamers’ heart . . . belongs to the struggles and small triumphs of the Jongas, which Mbue traces in clean, quick-moving paragraphs.”—Entertainment Weekly

“Mbue’s writing is warm and captivating.”—People (book of the week)

“[Mbue’s] book isn’t the first work of fiction to grapple with the global financial crisis of 2007–2008, but it’s surely one of the best. . . . It’s a novel that depicts a country both blessed and doomed, on top of the world, but always at risk of losing its balance. It is, in other words, quintessentially American.”—NPR

“This story is one that needs to be told.”—Bust 

“Behold the Dreamers challenges us all to consider what it takes to make us genuinely content, and how long is too long to live with our dreams deferred.”—O: The Oprah Magazine

“[A] beautiful, empathetic novel.”—The Boston Globe

“A witty, compassionate, swiftly paced novel that takes on race, immigration, family and the dangers of capitalist excess.”—St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Mbue [is] a deft, often lyrical observer. . . . [Her] meticulous storytelling announces a writer in command of her gifts.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune


  • Miriam F

    I loved the book. But if a woman had written it, it would have had a different ending

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

  • Irene M.

    An acquaintance suggested this book and I immediately jumped on it just by reading the title. A story so real, captivating and that gives insight in the complexity of what most people know as the american dream.

  • Claudia B.

    Excellent book and absolutely excellent narrator.

  • Celia W

    Loved this book. I read the novel and listened but found the narration to be SO powerful that I enjoyed listening even more.

  • Donna M

    A great listen. Narrator is exceptional. Music adds a feeling of authenticity. So glad this was a book suggested to me by a friend as it is truly a gem.

  • Bert H

    Surprising and strong story, good buildup of characters, made me think about complexity of dreamers, combination of sadness, laughter and geopolitical insights

  • Nancy K

    This was a wonderful story. It put me in the shoes of others whose lives I know little about

  • Ayako H

    This story captured my attention right away. Having gone through the green card process myself, I could relate to some of the feelings the main character is going through. It was entertaining and real at the same time.

  • Maureen L

    The characters of this novel make it an interesting story. The situation they are in as immigrants was thought-provoking. I enjoyed it and thought the narrator did a good job.

  • Dominique White

    Well done!! Animated narrator and great story.

Behold the Dreamers (Oprah's Book Club): A Novel

by Imbolo Mbue

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Behold the Dreamers (Oprah's Book Club): A Novel, Imbolo Mbue
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