One Book, One Highland Park


Our 2017 Selection: Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue


With support from the Alvin H. Baum Family Fund




What is One Book, One Highland Park?

One Book, One Highland Park is a community-wide program designed to create a shared appreciation of reading through thoughtful and compelling dialog. The One Book title is selected based on critical reception and its ability to further understanding and promote conversation about social or cultural issues and the human condition.

Why Behold the Dreamers?

The story engages readers in a discussion about immigration and economic stability, humanizing the struggle and fears of those caught in untenable situations. Imbolo Mbue, a Cameroonian immigrant herself, and a new citizen of the U.S., approaches complex social issues from a unique and powerful perspective.  Immigration, class and race are all issues that are evolving and redefining what it means to seek and achieve the “American Dream”. Behold the Dreamers is a worthy lens to discuss these themes and the current discourse of this country.

About the Book

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.
 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. 

(from the publisher's website)

Named one of the best books of the year by The New York Times, The Washington Post, Kirkus, NPR, Amazon, San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian and the St. Louis Dispatch. Read reviews here.


About Imbolo Mbue

Imbolo Mbue is a native of the seaside city of Limbe, Cameroon. She holds a BA from Rutgers University and an MA from Columbia University. A resident of the United States for more than a decade, she lives in New York City.​ (from the publisher's website)


Where to find a copy

At the library



April 1st  2:00-4:30 p.m. In America film discussion with Bob Coscarelli

April 3rd 1:00-2:30 p.m. Behold the Dreamers book discussion with Judy Levin

April 19th  7:00-8:30 p.m. "Becoming a Citizen": a presentation by Maria del Carmen Rodriguez, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services community relations officer

April 20th 7:00-8:30 p.m. Behold the Dreamers book discussion with Davis Schneiderman

April 22nd  2:00-4:00 p.m. Author Imbolo Mbue will discuss Behold the Dreamers – moderated by Davis Schneiderman. Copies will be available for purchase through The Book Stall and the author will sign copies of her book after the event

April 1st - April 30th Share Your Story Exhibit - Residents are invited to share their immigration stories on forms available at the Library or here. Completed forms can be turned into the Library and will be displayed.


Discover More 


The author discusses the immigrant experience in America at the New York State Writers Institute
Imbolo Mbue interview: Everybody Has a Story
Between the Lines: Imbolo Mbue and Lola Ogunnaike at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

Immigration Resources
Here is Everyone Who Has Emigrated (sic) to the United States Since 1820 Website on Immigration and Citizenship  
Citizenship Resource Center from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services 
Civics Practice Tests from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services 
Consideration for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
Migration Policy Institute 


Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengestu
What is the What by Dave Eggers
All Our Names by Dinaw Mengestu
Happiness Like Water by Chinelo Okparanta
​Family Life by Akhil Sharma
Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat
​Typical American by Gish Jen
Native Speaker by Chang-Rae Lee
Brown Girl, Brownstones by Paule Marshall
Jasmine by Bharati Mukherjee
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid


Feature Films
A Better Life 
“Emigrants Landing at Ellis Island” (1903); “An American in the Making” (1913). Treasures III: Social Issues in American Film 1900-1934 – Program 4: Americans in the Making. 
Foreign Letters 
Gangs of New York 
Heaven's Gate 
Hester Street 
House of Sand and Fog 
The Immigrant 
In America 
Learning to Drive 
Man Push Cart 
Prince of Broadway 
Sweet Land 
The Visitor 

Foreign Language Films
The Emigrants ; The New Land (Swedish) 
Golden Door (Italian) 
El Norte = The North (Spanish) 
Under the Same Moon = La misma luna (Spanish) 

Destination America 
Don’t Tell Anyone = No le digas a nadie 
Forgotten Ellis Island: The Extraordinary Story of America's Immigrant Hospital 
Immigration Battle: Inside Washington’s Fight over Immigration 
Well Founded Fear 
Which Way Home