Answering the Questions

What if everyone in Ridgewood read the same book?

What conversations could we spark?

Book Selection Criteria:

  • Story (fiction or nonfiction) that is of high literary quality, and has a clear, compelling narrative and well-developed characters.

  • Themes resonate with local and/or global communities, and people of all backgrounds.

  • Inspires discussion, conversations, and village-wide activities and interest.

  • Available in paperback and hardcover (Young adult a plus)

  • Available in other languages (support from the ESL team)

  • Author is alive and available for speaking engagement

  • The book has professional reviews, must be currently in print and readily available in large quantities (not print-on-demand).

  • Suitable for middle school study and up.


A compulsively readable debut novel about marriage, immigration, class, race, and the trapdoors in the American Dream—the unforgettable story of a young Cameroonian couple making a new life in New York just as the Great Recession upends the economy.

Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, has come to the United States to provide a better life for himself, his wife, Neni, and their six-year-old son. In the fall of 2007, Jende can hardly believe his luck when he lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Clark demands punctuality, discretion, and loyalty—and Jende is eager to please. 

When the financial world is rocked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Jongas are desperate to keep Jende’s job—even as their marriage threatens to fall apart. As all four lives are dramatically upended, Jende and Neni are forced to make an impossible choice.

New York Times Bestseller • Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award • Longlisted for the PEN/Open Book Award • An ALA Notable Book


It is the heartwarming story of a friendship that has spanned thirty years, that brought life to an over-scheduled professional who had lost sight of family and happiness and hope to a hungry and desperate boy whose family background in drugs and crime and squalor seemed an inescapable fate.

Themes of kindness, compassion, will allow our Village many opportunities to share the same with each other.


2016 debuted the Ridgewood Public Library Foundation's annual 1V:1B initiative.  For the first time, our community was invited to read one book, the same book, and connect through a shared reading experience.  

Whether you attended events, read the Boys in the Boat, or discussed with friends and family, we appreciate it.  

Please continue the shared conversation.

125 North Maple Avenue Ridgewood, NJ 07450

Phone:  201-670-5609

The Foundation is a non-profit 501c3 corporation.

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