Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Mini-reviews: Faithful and Behold the Dreamers

Shelby is a pretty typical teenage girl. She and her best friend Helene are attached at the hip until the night of the accident. Shelby is driving, but she isn't the one who is hurt. Instead, Helene is left in a coma and Shelby is left to deal with the consequences and guilt. She retreats from the world first to a mental institution and then into her parent's basement, Is it possible for Shelby to forgive herself and move on with her life when her best friend will never wake up?

Faithful is a novel that pays attention to all kinds of relationships: friendship, romance, and families. In some ways, it is a typical coming of age story as Shelby drifts away from and comes back to her parents and her small town and discovers who she is and what she wants out of life. She learns that it is possible to love someone while knowing they are not the person for you. But each step is made harder by her excruciating guilt as she wonders if she deserves any sort of happiness.

This book can be tough to read as Shelby sabotages her own life, but this is an Alice Hoffman story. That means there will always be just a bit of magic and the hope that these characters can find a happy ending,

By Alice Hoffman
Simon and Schuster November 2016
272 pages
Read via Netgalley

In the fall of 2007, Jende Jonga gets an incredible opportunity. He starts a job as the chauffeur for Clark Edwards, an executive at Lehman Brothers. This job will give his family security and ensure that his wife Neni can continue in pharmacy school. As Jende becomes an integral part of the Edwards family, the lines between employer and employee become fuzzy. When the financial market and Lehman Brothers collapse, can either family escape the destruction?

Behold the Dreamers is a book that is both incredibly specific to the years before and after the financial crash and a universal look at trying to survive as an immigrant in America. Jende and Neni have come to America from Cameroon and they have big dreams for their futures and that of their small son. Through his job, Jende has a literal front row seat to the inner workings of the wealthy in New York City. He hears the business deals that his boss brokers in the back seat and drops him off at the hotels where he is unfaithful to his wife. He sees the heartbreak of the neglected wife trying to keep a brave face and her snobbery about other people. But Mbue has not taken the easy path of making the rich bad and the poor saintly. Instead, we get a multitude of complicated characters who are trying to do their best with what they have.

This is a book full of impossible choices and characters who get knocked down time and again by life. But somehow this story manages to encourage its readers that all is not lost. Even if America cannot grant all of our deepest desires, there are still moments of joy to be found on its shores.

Behold the Dreamers
By Imbolo Mbue
Random House August 2016
380 pages
Read via Netgalley


  1. I haven't heard of either one of these books. Good thing I have your blog to keep me posted on all these books I seem to be missing. :)

    1. I'm happy to help. I usually need to have my tbr list handy when I read your blog too. :)