Cover Image: Olga Dies Dreaming

Olga Dies Dreaming

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Member Reviews

I am obsessed with this book! I didn’t know much about issues that affect Puerto Rico before reading, so I’m grateful for the authentic and honest perspective into important issues, like colonization, gentrification, colonialism, white supremacy and women’s rights. I love that the author was bold and up front about these topics instead of trying to make them palatable for white readers like myself. I loved seeing the main characters , Olga and Prieto, face a lifetime’s worth of trauma and heal themselves and their family.
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I enjoyed this novel about a Puerto Rican brother and sister. The plot did, at times, get dense (boarderline Tela Novella) but overall, it’s a pick.
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There were things I really liked about this book. I learned more about America’s relationship with Purerto Rico and it did a good job shedding light on the impact of Hurricane Maria on the island. I also found the character of Olga's mom and her relationship with her children very compelling.  I found all the elements of the story interesting separately, but it didn’t mesh for me. As I was reading it, I just wasn’t eager to pick the book up again.
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Life is messy. People are imperfect. Good and bad? No; Think shades of grey. Olga Dies Dreaming is the story of a Nuyorican family in Brooklyn in all is messy glory. Meet: Olga, a wedding planner for the wealthy, and her brother Prieto, a politician torn between pleasing his rebellion-leading, independence-advocating mother and upholding the "perfect child" image he's cultivated. As the two navigate life, toe the balance between assimilation and rebellion, and come to terms with their family's realities, they learn to find strength in identity and their beloved Brooklyn. 

Gonzalez has created a fantastic set of characters, real and chaotic. Each character, each storyline, and each plot twist felt real. Ties to real-life events like Hurricane Maria and the resulting mess of a response made the story even more palpable. But even with all of the subplots and nuances, in the end, Olga Dies Dreaming is a story written with unconditional love to the Nuyorican families in this country: despite all the chaos, despite the shades of grey, we see the beauty in the stories that can be told. 

Thank you, @xochitltheg, @flatironpress, and @netgalley for an ARC of Olga Dies Dreaming. Pick up your copy in bookstores on January 11, 2022 and stay tuned for the HBO pilot of the story!
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Read if you: Want a sensitive and compelling sibling story set in NYC before and immediately after Hurricane Maria hits Puerto Rico. 

Olga's storyline as a Puerto Rican wedding planner for upscale New York couples and Prieto's struggles as a closeted politician are equally compelling. Stick with the story if you think it starts off a bit slow; it will be worth it!

Librarians/booksellers: Not only is this a remarkable read, but it's also been optioned as a mini-series, so purchase before those requests come in!

Many thanks to Flatiron Books and NetGalley for a digital review copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Olga, named for a warrior activist by her former Young Lord parents, fears she is more like the poetic namesake who dies dreaming without achieving. Her career choice as event planner disappoints her mother as does that of her brother, the politician, who has “sold out “ to the establishment. Their father dies of drug addiction but their mother, who abandoned her family years before, is a revolutionary stationed in Puerto Rico.  From the island she manipulates the lives of her two children who are secretive and sad.  The siblings take turns despising and loving their mother, always trying to impress her. Xochitl Gonzalez provides a close look at their community in Brooklyn and in Puerto Rico and describes the heartbreaking neglect and lack of compassion of the government for a people ravaged by Hurricane Maria. We see the strong bonds of love from family and we hope that this will lead to truthful revelations that will free the characters, allowing dreams being realized rather than dying.
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I'd like to thank NetGalley and the publicher for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.

It took a while for me to write this review because I wasn't able to express how much I liked Olga Dies Dreaming (and to be honest, I still haven't, but I have to give my well-deserved 5 stars!). It is a rich story, with real characters and so easy to relate to, that describes pretty well the struggle of Latinxs families in the United States and it's also an #ownvoices novel.

Olga Dies Dreaming mixes POVs from Olga, a strong and independent wedding planner, and her brother Prieto, a gay politician representing the Brooklyn neighborhood. Despite being a bit slow-paced and complex (it has several intertwined stories), it is an extremely necessary novel. If you like contemporary books with politics, representativeness and full of culture and history, this book will be perfect for you.
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Thank you to Net Galley and Flatiron Books for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

Sometimes I come across a book at just the right moment, like the author wrote FIN on the last page and slid the unedited manuscript under my doorway. Other times, I can appreciate the work of an author, but am not in the right mindset to fully immerse myself in the story. Unfortunately, I felt more of the latter with Olga Dies Dreaming. I think I need to read some Flannery O'Connor or Toni Morrison to reset my palette after all these contemporary books. 

Olga Dies Dreaming has all the elements for a successful novel: two compelling, complex main characters, solid writing, and overarching political/cultural themes that the characters navigate in both their work setting and personal relationships. I'm sure those elements will resonate with a lot of readers, as they should. 

I found myself...bored. It's hard to overcome the feeling of boredom and enjoy a book, no matter how much respect I might have for a particular passage or development of a singular character. If you're bored, you're bored, and short of lying to yourself, there is little enjoyment to be had. 

I found the pacing to be poor, the summary-to-scene ratio askew, and the jokes try-hard and cringey, like someone wearing a leather jacket that everyone knows they can't pull off. The dialogue was predictable. Worse, the little missives about gentrification could have been lifted from a book from 1995 with no changes, a seemingly astute political point that is actually just the laziest observation one can make. Because this book is set in NYC, the characters are legally mandated to grapple with the question of "authenticity," an intentionally vague concept that is impossible to define, outside of the understanding that it only exists in Brooklyn.
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Olga and her congressman brother struggle to find their footing as successful adults in the shadow of their radical activist mother who abandoned them as children but continues to stir up trouble.
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I received this book in exchange for an honest review from Netgalley. 

I’ll start by saying this book was not at all what I thought it was going to be. It was probably the darkest/most serious novel I’ve ever read about a wedding planner. 

Puerto Rico and it’s political history is the main focus of this book, as told through Olga and her family of Puerto Rican-Americans. I learned a lot - although the book is fiction, the political events mirror the real world. Corruption and revolution are big themes. 

While I really enjoyed many aspects of the book, there is a lot going on - many plot lines and subplots, It was exhausting to read at times and rather than being sucked in, I had to gear myself up to continue. I’m really glad I stuck with it because I ended up enjoying it and am grateful for the enhanced awareness  of Puerto Rico.
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Wow. This read is a slow burn, but worth every flicker. I paced it out over the course of a month - it’s a dense read filled with a range of subjects - and I wanted to truly experience each one.

Gonzalez skillfully tells the story of a Puerto Rican family living in New York who must overcome physical and emotional storms. She explores family dynamics, gentrification, politics, sexuality, AIDS and much more.  It some ways, it reminded me of Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour. Both books are authentically raw, and shared in a way only an OwnVoice author can.

I recommend this book to readers who enjoy politics, family dynamics, and a desire to learn more about the Latinx experience.

Trigger Warning: rape
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Powerful debut that had me rooting for the strong characters throughout. Thank you to NetGalley and Flatiron books for the opportunity to read an advanced copy.
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This is a very special book and is one that I will recommend to everyone! The book follows Olga and the cast of characters in her life that includes her family, colleagues, friends, and lovers. The book seamlessly weaves the storylines of each character and I love how each chapter is a little vignette that creates a larger picture. 

Olga is a headstrong, powerful, and sensitive woman who goes on a journey of immense self discovery throughout the book. 

The story delves into the Puerto Rican experience, family dynamics and relationships, navigating childhood trauma as an adult, gentrification and changing communities to name a few. I really enjoyed the vivid Brooklyn setting contrasted with the Puerto Rican visits. I thought the end of the book wrapped up a little quickly - there were a few storylines or details that I was hoping to get further detail on.

Overall, I really loved this book and believe it will be in my top 10 for the year! Thank you to Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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Once in a lifetime, you read a book that feel like it was written just for you- and this one is it for me. I loved this book inside and out (not to mention the gorgeous cover).

I adored that Gonzalez wrote such a sweeping novel that included so many rich characters as well as a plot that encompassed personal and political plotline that intertwined seamlessly. with nuance and compassion, she expertly explores issues of gentrification, growing income inequality, racism, classism, the fact that Puerto Rico is a colony and the history of the Puerto Rican people to liberate themselves, sexual identity, drug abuse, and the obligation towards family vs. the struggle for social justice.

At it's heart this novel is about two siblings who were orphaned by tragedy- a father who died of AIDS and drug abuse, and a mother who abandoned them to become a freedom fighter. Olga and 'Prieto' are flawed but wonderful people who try, against all odds to do good for other and for themselves. They are trying to figure out how to be people in this world, but they keep getting mixed up with all kinds of characters, many of who don't have good intentions. I really liked how they always found a way to support each other- like it was them two against the world. Their extended family, aunt, grandma, etc that were amazing and loving and helped them thrive.

As a Puerto Rican woman, I very much identified with the main characters and their plights. I really appreciated how the author wrote about her reality and didn't write any parts in italics or try to overexplain certain cultural references. She trusted her readers would either know what she was talking about or that they would look up things they didn't know.

This book was for someone like me- and it made me feel very seen to read it. I'm so glad it was published. We need more books about Latinx experiences in the U.S.

Anyway- I can probably keep raving about this book forever-
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Olga Dies Dreaming, had me dreaming of my childhood neighborhood.  I felt nostalgic for corner grocery stores,“Doñas” watching out for the community from their front stoops, cooling off in fire hydrant water falls on endless summer days and playing outside until the street lights came on.  In this debut novel by Xóchitl Gonzalez, I felt the author’s love for New York City and its people.  But the story comes to life when giving witness to the impact of gentrification on the ethnic barrios of her youth.  It is an anthem to the mother land of one’s heart.  It is a story about family loyalty, self acceptance, the complicated journey to become one-self and the rewards of loving deeply.  Definitely a must read for fans of Lin Manuel Miranda’s In The Heights and Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing.

Bonus: Gonzalez interweaves the troubled political history and ongoing struggles of Puerto Rico, as a United States commonwealth, and its people.
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Okay I'm going to be completely honest here. The minute I discovered this book, the title got my attention and then ofcourse the vibrant colors and the bold illustration on the jacket. 

I started reading with a perception of how it'll be- story of a bold, funny and independent woman. I read the initial chapters with eagerness waiting to hit it at the right place but the thing is although the story and the writing is quite good, the pace of this book is rather slow. It is like too much of build up but it takes time to reach there which I find rather unsettling, maybe it's a me problem. 

Nonetheless, I think this book is for readers who wish to dive into a slow paced book, processing every sentence with all its glory.
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I loved this book, and the vibrant writing.  Olga and her family and friends are such wonderful characters, and the story is brilliant.  Olga's Mum has left to join the revolution but she still dominates her children's lives.  The history of Puerto Rico and its people is told in an interesting and sympathetic way, and is important to the lives of Olga and the family in Brooklyn.  At times sad, shocking and funny, I just couldn't stop reading it.
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The main character in this story will lure you into her New York world. The members of her family come alive with real issues common in so many families. I love the conflicts in Olga’s life. At times, this book will make you smile and other times, her dilemmas will make you feel compassion for her. Will she find happiness or not? I love the author’s writing style and format of the story. The importance of respect in Olga’s family is often a strong influence in her decision making which enriches the depth of her character.  I highly recommend this book to everyone as a peek into Latino culture and life in NYC!. It’s real and heartwarming!
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I really enjoyed this book once everything started to tie together. It was slow to start and Olga seemed unlikeable. However, once you get to know her history and trials she has been through you start to understand her. Olga is just trying to protect herself from the demons of her past regardless of her current feelings. Would have loved to seen more endings tied up namely with Olga and Matteo.
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Olga - a wedding planner, a Brooklynite, a Puerto Rican, a child abandoned by her parents and raised by her grandmother - has to face some of the challenges that she has avoided for much of her adult life.  She's been struggling to get her business off the ground, and get it ahead - from the failed attempt at a Reality TV show to morning TV spots - Olga is committed to her work making other people's special days perfect, but not to romantic engagements.  It's ironic, really.  Her real love is that of her large, obnoxious, and wonderful family.

This fantastic story, which not just informs readers of the rich political and cultural history of Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rican diaspora in Brooklyn, but of the delicate balances that still must be maintained politically, socially, culturally.  

This story of Olga, her brother, and her larger family as they deal with political and family drama in the wake of natural disasters is a satisfying and engaging read which will keep pages turning to see what comes next.  Readers will also appreciate the contemporary nature of the work, which includes the real events of Hurricane Maria and the Coronavirus Pandemic, as well as predicting what that future might hold for Puerto Rico and beyond.
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