Behold the Dreamers tells the story of two different families who were brought together by the Lehman Brothers collapse. Jende and Neni Jonga emigrate from Cameroon, Africa to New York City with their young son, Liomi. Jende is a loyal chauffeur who does not talk about what he hears his boss say in the car. Jende is proud of the car he drives and his ability to support his family. Coming to America is everything Neni dreams of and more. The Edwards family give Neni a job helping out during the summer at their home in the Hamptons. Cindy Edwards is a socialite, nutritionist, and mother who says family is everything. Clark Edwards is a workaholic at Lehman Brothers. The two Edwards’ brothers enjoy spending time with the Jongas and eating Cameroonian food, not caring how the other half live.
Mbue is kind to her characters, showing their fears, stress and worry in different ways. The storytelling is crisp. The dialogue is sharp and authentic. The character studies make this novel come alive. These are real stories about people struggling to make the right choice every day. The intersection of these two families is a great portrait of contemporary America.