Behold the Dreamers

Behold the Dreamers - Imbolo Mbue To be honest, this wasn't the best or most exciting read ever, and I found myself finding other things to do instead of reading this, but on the other hand it was strangely compelling... possibly due to it's current relevance?

The writing is very immersing, so when I did actually make time to read it was easy to fall into the story. The character building was consistent and believable, and I could completely understand Jende's change of nature due to his troubles, could completely see how Cindy seemed to turn into a completely different person. The author definitely knows how to turn a phrase, and I'd love to see her write more and go farther.

I'm not sure when this was written (it's set in 2008/9), but it's extremely relevant to the current times. With the issues America is currently facing with the great white Cheeto filling everyone's head that all immigrants are terrorists and want to either blow you up or steal your job, this novel kind of makes it's own quiet statement. There's even a scene where they joke that as a celebration they'll go to Trump tower for supper and make Donald Trump cook their food... I don't know if that's funny or sad actually.

It was interesting learning more of other African countries' culture, but the feminist in me cringed a lot. Women get a raw deal in general, but African women seem to get no deal at all... you just take what you can get and be happy for it. They seem to be okay with that though, and I guess if they're happy then who am I to say they're wrong... but I can't help but wonder if they're genuinely happy or if it's just because they don't know anything else?

Although he doesn't get a lot of "screen" time, my favorite character was probably Vince. He's painted as kind of a hippy-dippy disappointment to his family, but I like that he was true to himself and followed his own path rather than the path that was set out for him. He sees through the sham of the "American Dream" and calls it out on it's bull... but the thing is, people still believe in it, even though it's pretty much unattainable... and if people still believe in it, doesn't that make it real?

It was a pretty good read, and it leaves me with a lot to think about... but honestly, I'll probably forget about it sooner rather than later because it was just kind of... timid? soft? I don't know exactly, but it doesn't make that big of a splash. It has something to say, but it's like the quiet kid in class is saying it while the rest of the students talk over them... I hope these analogies make sense, if not, I apologize and I'll leave it at "it was okay".