Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
Again, with the one book month! August was a rollercoaster, it saw my blossoming love come to a crashing halt, only to rise back up for two sweltering weeks just to fade back away. But I’m grateful for it all and I learned so much. I learned that maybe there is something to be said for taking things nice and slow, and that rushing in feels good but might not always be what’s best. And that when you rush in, it’s hard to pull on the reins to slow something down that is already on a collision course.
Just as July brought me my first kiss in years, August brought me a lot of sweet moments too. A sunset in Evergreen with her head in my lap, and the words “this might be the most peaceful I’ve ever felt.” It brought me her cooking in my kitchen, vegetarian food, and taking me on a night time walk. It brought me flowers. It brought me nights of re-arranging the furniture in my tiny place to be able to play card games together. It rearranged more than just my furniture- it rearranged my patterns, my thoughts, my ideas of who I could be or what my life could look like. And then it brought me heartache and tears.
And it also took me to Grand Lake for a Rock Your Bliss retreat. It brought me talks with Jenny in the woods and down by the lakeside. It brought me hot tub time, and the first taste of cool nights and crisp mornings, it brought me to my mat, it brought me to the forest, it brought me coffee in my favorite mug, and aspen leaves dancing.
And… it brought me this beautiful book that had been sitting on my shelf for the past couple of years. Imbolo Mbue is the author of Behold the Dreamers a beautiful story of a family from Cameroon who come to America to pursue their dreams. Imbolo was born in 1981 (same year as me) in Cameroon. She came to America for her higher education, and she published her first book… this beautiful masterpiece in 2016. It has been said that, “she has stressed the importance of literature providing empathy, which she feels is lacked in immigration policies and overall politics.”
Of course I loved this book. And therein lies the rub, as they say. The people who could most grow and learn from this book will never be the people who will read it. But that’s always the case with books such as these, isn’t it?
The book conquers immigration and all the many ways- in those who come here and will never be the same, those who will do anything to stay, and those who grow disenchanted and downtrodden because of all the loops and hoops there are to jump through, it covers those born here and are sickened by the corruption and greed, and those who flea from their place of privilege.
The books characters are so rich- not in actual money or possessions but in heart and soul. Even in their most low moments, you can still see them. Fully. Unabashedly so. Raw. Those are always my favorite stories. The kind that make you ache inside. And stretch your heart to boundaries you’d thought it had already met.
The book takes place in the dawning of the Age of Obama. In NYC. In the financial crash and the economic recession. And it masterfully weaves a story of America, and a story of a family trying to belong here. And it encompasses everything. How we are all one. And yet how we can never fully stand in another’s shoes.
I adored every last little bit of it.
What book has stretched your heart beyond it’s unknown bounds? Tell me about it.