THE AMAZON EDITORS’ Best books of August
Jende Jonga is a Cammeronian immigrant seeking a better life in America. Through a friend he secures a job as a chauffeur for a wealthy man, Clark Edwards, who has made his fortune at Lehman Brothers.
The Edwards seem to have it all: a beautiful family, large homes, and few worries. Except that it is 2007 and the financial crisis is about to happen.
Jende’s wife, Neni, also begins working for Mrs. Edwards, and the Jongas are making progress in America, finally able to plan for their future.
But as they hope to raise their family in America, Jende’s citizenship is causing them problems, and he continues to receive mail sending him to court, and the threat of being sent back to Cameroon hangs over his head.
These two families struggle in different ways, but Behold the Dreamers certainly proves that money cannot buy happiness and that despite wealth everyone has their own challenges. It is also a realistic portrayal of the immigrant experience and the way in which our system does not work for everyone.
Mbue’s novel is beautiful and sad and hopeful all at the same time. It is a must read.
In order to write this book, Eowyn had to do a massive amount of research. She began by learning to speak in a way that was compatible with the expressions of those who lived a hundred and thirty years ago. Next, she established the setting of this book to reflect the situation of humanity at that time in history. For example, the camera was just coming into common usage, and Indian wars were going on. Having placed herself in 1885, she then had to be exquisitely careful not to commit any anachronisms. For example, she had to learn about the workings of primitive cameras and the terminology that was used to describe them. We are treated with a run down on the mechanisms of the 1885 camera, including the chemicals used for development of photographs and the conditions under which these had to be taken. Another example is that she had to be careful not to place any soldier into a scheme of army organization that did not exist. After that, she had to write convincing letters written in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, again in the proper language and without anachronisms. One slip, and the entire edifice of this spectacular book would have become suspect.