Wednesday, November 2, 2016

BEHOLD THE DREAMERS, 2016 Goodreads Choice Awards nominee for Best Debut Author


Random House
$28.00 hardcover, available now


Rating: 5* of five

The Publisher Says: 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’ fa├žades.

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.

My Review: I voted for this book in the 2016 Goodreads Choice Awards. I read somewhere on the internet that this just might be The Great American Novel. I agree.
My advice to someone like you is to always stay close to the gray area and keep yourself and your family safe. Stay away from any place where you can run into police—that's the advice I give to you and to all young black men in this country. The police is for the protection of white people, my brother. Maybe black women and black children sometimes, but not black men. Never black men. Black men and police are palm oil and water. You understand me, eh?

Nothing is more American, in my experience of being a life-long one, than rooting for the underdog. Nothing is more American than relishing, with unabashed schadenfreude, the fall of the mighty and greedy.
Anyone can go to the shop and buy anything and give to anyone, he told Liomi when the boy asked him for the umpteenth time why he couldn’t get even a little toy truck. The true measure of whether somebody really loves you, he lectured, is what they do for you with their hands and say to you with their mouth and think of you in their heart.
Followed by:
“That’s exactly the problem! People don’t want to open their eyes and see the Truth because the illusion suits them. As long as they’re fed whatever lies they want to hear they’re happy, because the Truth means nothing to them. Look at my parents—they’re struggling under the weight of so many pointless pressures, but if they could ever free themselves from this self-inflicted oppression they would find genuine happiness. Instead, they continue to go down a path of achievements and accomplishments and material success and shit that means nothing because that’s what America’s all about, and now they’re trapped. And they don’t get it!”
These two fundamental American character traits intersect in this well-crafted debut novel. (This is the author's debut novel, but I will bet large sums of cash money that it's not her first...this is an accomplished, polished, beautiful piece of writing and plotting, and it has numerous older siblings in the "recycle" folder on her hard drive or I'm your maiden auntie.)

Don't waste time reading reviews, go get the book and read it! Now! Quick sticks, possums, don't deprive yourselves of this pleasure.

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