Behold the Dreamers, by Imbolo Mbue: A Review

The 2019 ATY Reading Challenge prompt #36 is a book featured on the NPR Best Books of the Year list. Since my goal for the year was to read as many books I already own as possible, I went hunting through the NPR Best Books lists to see if I could find one that I own. I found Behold the Dreamers, by Imbolo Mbue on the 2016 list. I had heard enough good reviews on this book, and been intrigued enough by it, that I picked it up when I ran across a good deal on the ebook.

Behold the Dreamers is the story of two families in pursuit of the American Dream. One is Jende Jonga and his wife Neni, Cameroonian immigrants living in Harlem. The other family is that of Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers.

It is a step up for Jende when he lands a job as a chauffeur for Mr. Edwards. In fact, their situation seems to be changing only for the better. They have hope also, that their immigrant status will improve. Jende and his wife feel they have at last gained a foothold in America and dare to imagine a brighter future.

However, as the recession of 2008 brings down many financial giants – Lehman Brothers included – Jende’s future is now hopelessly dependent on that of Clark’s. As Clark’s world unravels, Jende’s hopes disintegrate as well. Jende and his wife find themselves faced with the terrible decision of whether to return to their home country of Cameroon.

I wanted to like this book more than I did. To be honest, I was bothered by the actions the characters were willing to carry out in pursuit of their dreams – both the desperate immigrant on the edge of poverty and the wealthy elite. The book is written well enough, I just found I couldn’t relate much to anyone in the story.

Unlock the Muse – July 9, 2019

It’s week two of July as well as Camp NaNoWriMo. The writing has started out pretty slow for me. I’m still plugging away at my goal, but I’ve fallen rather badly behind. It’s good that I have that end of the month deadline looming to keep me motivated.

Are you participating in Camp NaNoWriMo? Are you up against a deadline? I am at my most productive when facing a deadline. How about you? Does a deadline spur on your muse? Or do you rage against them?

Here’s your writing prompt for this week:

List the issues, both big and small, that make you angry. Getting in touch with subjects you feel passionately about can help you decide what you need to write about.

Passions are powerful, and can make your writing even stronger. Use them to fuel your words and your energy. In this way, too, writing can be cathartic.

A final thought for you on deadlines:

Deadline Quote

Happy writing!

Unlock the Muse – July 2, 2019

Welcome to July!

If you’ve hung around my blog for any length of time, you’re aware I’m an avid participant in National Novel Writing Month, including the two mid-year Camp events in April and July. So, yep, it’s time once again for Camp NaNoWriMo.

There are two things I love about NaNoWriMo. First, I love the community of writers who take part in this activity. In the Camp editions, participants can opt to engage with up to 19 other Campers to commiserate with and encourage one another throughout the month.

The second thing I love about NaNoWriMo is the deadline. Yeah, that’s right. I said I love the deadline. I usually do my best work under pressure.

Here’s your writing prompt for this week:

An ode to Monday: Pen your feelings for the dreaded Monday in a haiku.

Do you live for Mondays? That return to the daily grind after a day or two of liberty? Or are Mondays your worst nightmare? As in there’s not enough coffee in the world that can make a Monday better?

It’s a new month, time for a new theme. This month I’ll look at the pros and cons of writing deadlines. Personally, I like a good deadline, but I’m not so good at self-imposed ones. That’s why NaNoWriMo works for me.

How do you approach a deadline?

Happy writing!