Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue, tells the story of how a young African couple and their son move to America from Cameroon in order to pursue their American Dream. Overall, this was an amazing book and it really put into perspective how lucky, even privileged, we are as American citizens. We have the privilege to be who we want to be and pursue any sort of dreams we have and to me and the characters in this book, that is amazing. I thought it was very interesting how this book showed the perspective of immigrants and it reflects the author’s view of America very loud and clear for all the readers to understand. Mbue sees America as the land of opportunity and dreams and the reason why I enjoyed this book so much was because that is exactly how I see the American Dream as well.

One of the biggest questions I had about immigration was how they see America, what their idea of the American Dream was and I also want to raise some questions about how immigrants are unfairly treated.  In my book, the two main characters coming from Africa saw America as this amazing place where they would do anything or be anything. It seems that when immigrants think about America they think that “…the streets here in the New World would be paved with gold” (Vallorani).  It is very clear that most, if not all immigrants see America as this amazing place where anything is possible and that is what I believe it means to be an American and what also helps to shape the American Dream.

I would also like to shed some light on how poor and unfair immigrants are treated in the United States because it is a huge issue within the immigration process. As many people may know, Americans have a fear that immigrants are coming into America to steal their jobs, but in reality they are trying to better their lives just like the rest of us. As a matter of fact, “‘…undocumented workers often work the unpleasant, back-breaking jobs that native-born workers are not willing to do.’” (Hoban). Immigrants are doing a lot of Americans favors by taking the jobs they don’t feel like doing and therefore should be treated with the kind of respect they deserve. Most immigrants are just trying to make a better life for themselves just like the 15,583 Syrian refugees that came to America between 2014 and 2016 to escape the civil war in their country (Kallick).

Being an American really means something to immigrants and they should be allowed to pursue their dreams in America as they wish without any prejudice or unfair treatment. Native born Americans can sometimes take advantage of all the privileges we have such as voting and having the opportunity to express our thoughts do to freedom of speech. Being an American means pursuing your dreams and having the freedom to do so. America is the land of the free and to most immigrants that is the most important thing to them and their families.


Works Cited

Hoban, Brennen. Brookings, 24 Aug. 2017, www.brookings.edu/blog/brookings-now/2017/08/24/do-immigrants-steal-jobs-from-american-workers/. Accessed 1 Nov. 2018.

Kallick, David D., et al. Center for American Progress , 13 Dec. 2016, www.americanprogress.org/issues/immigration/reports/2016/12/13/294851/syrian-immigrants-in-the-united-states-a-receiving-community-for-todays-refugees/. Accessed 1 Nov. 2018.

Mbue, Imbolo. Behold the Dreamers. New York, Random House, 2017.

Vallorani, Brandon. ForbesBooks, Mar. 2017, forbesbooks.com/immigration-american-dream/. Accessed 3 Nov. 2018.

Photo by Elvert Barnes


CC BY-SA 4.0 What it Means to be American by Johnna is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

  1. Alexis DiGregorio 7 months ago

    I really enjoyed reading your article. I have thought the same things many times and agree with what you said about native born Americans taking for granted the privileges we have. I also agree that to many immigrants America is an escape from a dangerous life, however we are not the most welcoming and do not make it easy for immigrants. I think you have some great points in this article and I hope that by reading your article others will understand your point as well. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Katelynn 7 months ago

    I totally agree with your ideas on immigration and the American Dream. Many native born Americans take for granted the opportunity they are given. Immigrants leave everything behind to search for a better life, and they see America as a shining land of opportunity. Your arguments are very well founded and have a lot of research to back them up. All in all, this is a great piece!

  3. Gwendolyn 7 months ago


    I really enjoyed reading your piece. It definitely made me want to check out “Behold the Dreamers.” My favorite part of your essay was the section in which you talk about how the book made you realize just how lucky you are to be an American. I had a similar experience when I visited rural Thailand. I hope that you keep writing about things that you experience connected with books. Your worldview is a brilliant one and I wish there were more people out there who realized just how lucky we are to live in the U.S.A.

    Thanks again!

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