An Alaskan Escape and an American Dream

 alaska-1Alaska photo courtesy of Alejandro Gonzalez

It’s been a while since I talked about books here on the blog. But I always have a book on the go — it’s my way to wind down after a busy day.

My current read is Heroes of the Frontier by Dave Eggers. I was introduced to his writing last year by a colleague who loaned me The Circle, Eggers’ dystopian fiction book about a futuristic tech company which starts to infiltrate the lives of its employees to a disturbing degree. For a full review, check out my post: Books I Read in September.

Heroes of the Frontier is going in a completely different direction from The Circle — following a woman with two young children who, after a failed marriage, decides to road-trip around Alaska. The trip is an attempt to escape her past, in which she believes she was implicit in the death of a young man who enlisted in the marines. So far, I’ve only read a few chapters but I get the sense that more from her past will be revealed later on in the book.

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue was a recent book I read which really stood out for me. Mbue’s debut novel is an astute and insightful look into the lives of an African couple, Jende Jonga and his wife Neni, who immigrate to Harlem, New York City from the city of Limbe in Cameroon. Their goal is to try and build a better life for themselves and their son, Liomi, in America.

behold-the-dreamers-1

Jende finds a job as a chauffeur to a wealthy Wall Street businessman, Clark Edwards, and Neni studies hard towards her dream of becoming a pharmacist one day, finding temporary employment as a housekeeper for the Edwards’ family in their second home. She loves NYC — the buzz of the city, the hustle and bustle of all the people with their dreams and their ambitions.

But it’s 2007 and America is on the brink of a financial crisis. Lehman Brothers is about to collapse and the reverberations will be felt all around Wall Street. Jende and Neni become caught up in the Edwards’ privileged lives, at the same time as they are confronted by a tidal wave of obstacles in their pursuit of the American dream.

new-york-wall-street-photo-1

New York photo courtesy of Rick Tap at unsplash

Behold the Dreamers is a realistic novel which doesn’t promise a sugary-sweet happy ending. In showing us the lives of Jende and Neni, Mbue has achieved a masterful debut with great warmth and sympathy for her characters.

I’ve read a lot of fiction in the past few months, and Behold the Dreamers is definitely high up among the fiction books I’ve most enjoyed recently. I’ll be looking out for more from Imbolo Mbue.

What are you reading right now? What books have you read recently which you enjoyed? Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction?

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6 thoughts on “An Alaskan Escape and an American Dream

  1. Behold the Dreamers sounds fantastic and how wonderful that you are reading something that falls under diverse fiction! I’m trying to do more of that myself and so if there’s a selection that fits under that category in my Kindle First selections (which is a benefit of being an Amazon Prime member), I usually go for it. This month, I chose one called The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds, which is about a Malaysian woman and the difficulties of reconciling her Eastern heritage with the fact that her children become immersed in the Western culture that came as a result of colonization. I’m only about a third of the way in and plot-wise, it’s not the most exciting but the writing is excellent and the descriptions vivid so it’s been an easy read on my commutes to and from work. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I really enjoy reading books by authors from different cultural backgrounds. Behold the Dreamers was excellent.

      The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds sounds intriguing. I’m between books at the moment — I have a couple of non-fiction books on the go, but I’m looking out for a good novel. Recommendations accepted! 🙂

      I hope you enjoy the weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

      • In that case, I’ll point you to The Ghost Bride (which I may have mentioned before) by Yangtze Choo. It’s another book set in Malaysia (or Malaya as used to be known) and even though it’s been a while since I last read it it’s still one of my favorite stand-alone fiction books. Hope your weekend is going well and I’ll get to your email very soon! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I always enjoy your book reviews! I added Behold the Dreamers to my Amazon list a few weeks back, and I am hoping to grab it from the library soon!

    I’m currently close to finishing The Language of Flowers. It’s wonderful and captivating! Generally, I find myself reading more non-fiction, but I love a good novel!

    Liked by 1 person

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