Our 2017 Selection: Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
With support from the Alvin H. Baum Family Fund
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.
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.
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.
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)
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 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.
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
Here is Everyone Who Has Emigrated (sic) to the United States Since 1820
USA.gov 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
City of Dreams: the 400-year epic history of immigrant New York by Tyler Anbinder
Detained and Deported: stories of immigrant families under fire by Margaret Regan
Ellis Island Interviews: in their own words by Peter Coan
Forgotten Citizens: deportation, children, and the making of American exiles and orphans by Luis H. Zayas
Integration Nation: immigrants, refugees, and America at its best by Susan E. Eaton
A Nation of Immigrants by John F. Kennedy
The New Odyssey: the story of the twenty-first-century refugee crisis by Patrick Kingsley
Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder
Undocumented: how immigration became illegal by Aviva Chomsky
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.
Gangs of New York
House of Sand and Fog
Learning to Drive
Man Push Cart
Prince of Broadway
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