Cover Image: Olga Dies Dreaming

Olga Dies Dreaming

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Member Reviews

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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Wow wow wow. This book is, without question, my favorite book I’ve read in at least a year. It has everything - NYC living, family drama, secrets, romance, politics - and is all captured so masterfully. I couldn’t get enough and was so deeply invested in all of the characters, flaws and all. Highly, highly recommend.

Thank you to Net Galley and Flatiron Books for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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I couldn’t believe that this is a debut book from Xochitl! My goodness what a great read it was. I am not amazed this book is going to hit the big screen and I’m sensing its going to be a #bestseller. The story is so first paced and have it’s ups and downs at some point but totally unputdownable at the end. Yes! It’s that interesting. 

This is a story about Prieto, the Congressman and his sister Olga, the wedding planner both struggled at their early age and now they’re in their forties. They lived almost orphaned as their father died when they’re younger and before that their mother abandoned them for her own reasons. The one sided letters they keep receiving from their mother’s end are motivating, powerful and convincing. 

The story portrays well, how the rich white developers made their places in the neighbourhood and pushing families away  from their own lands and houses. After all these, three most devastating hurricanes hits one after other and families suffered big. They’re out of electricity, food, cash, medicines and what not! How they’re going to survive the hits? 

The chemistry between Olga and her bae Matteo, the realtor are beautiful. I loved them all and loved how characters formed so well. Aunt Tia Lola, Aunt Karen, especially Mabel they’re the support system that the siblings could asked for!

The story is well written & involved racism, sexuality & corruption. This book will stay with me forever cause the story it’s intense. Not for everyone although I’ll recommend this book highly to each one of you cause if you don’t read this book you’re going to miss a great story. Only thing I wouldn’t write anything on Puerto Ricans cause being an Indian I’ve less ideas on it and it’s culture. Tbh, I enjoyed the book but I fought with the language in between. 

Thank you @netgalley @flatiron_books for the #arc in exchange of honest review.
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Did not finish. Tried to read many times. Didn’t like the writing style. Just wasn’t for me. Sorry I couldn’t review
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I predict a big, best seller here!  Olga is the intriguing heroine of this incredibly off-beat story of Brooklyn, Puerto Rican culture and women warriors. I often get bored with the predictability of the books I read, but Olga is different on so many levels. 

This reminds us of historical events such as Hurricane Maria and the PR Nationalist movement. The women are strong, despite often being wrong. The need to honor truth and the need for forgiveness are certainly woven into the book. 

Olga starts out as a wedding planner and moves on to being an extraordinary woman of strength and vision. There are so many elements I enjoyed. As a New Yorker, I loved charting the Renaissance of Brooklyn. I loved the closeness of siblings, cleaving together to cope with difficult circumstances and absent parents.  I always need closure and I love the way it was provided here. 

Gonzalez is a new voice, dealing with a fascinating subject which will interest many readers. I look forward to many more novels from this exciting author.  Since I read acknowledgements, I love seeing one of my personal heroes mentioned. 

Thank you Netgalley for allowing me to read and review this novel.
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Olga is a Puerto Rican businesswomen approaching her forties, and her brother is a charming politician. Both of them are strong, driven characters who overcomes racism and social inequality to uplift their social status, but remain grounded thanks to deeply-rooted Puerto Rican culture. 

This is Xochitl Gonzalez's debut, and her writing is well-thought out and compelling. She is a powerful new voice that deserves some recognition! She deals head-on with various social imbalances that people of color face on a daily basis and even sheds light on the lovely culture and traditions of the Puerto Rican people.

Received an advanced reader's copy (ARC) on Netgalley from Flatiron Books in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Flatiron Books for making this accessible! For NetGalley users, you know where to get an ARC! For the general public, this debut novel comes out in January 2022, so get it marked down for next summer.
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Extremely interesting, but the pacing was a bit rough for me. I loved the beginning, the characters, and the premise of this book. But I couldn't seem to get through the middle. I could definitely see this being one I get through if I picked it up later.

Thank you to the publisher and to NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for review.
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DNF @ 25%.  

This sounded like the kind of book I'd love: young woman re-evaluating life choices, diverse characters, politics, mother/daughter relationships...

The problem was pacing. Every move forward in the plot was followed by five pages of exposition. I found myself reaching for my phone every few pages, and with so many good books to read, I couldn't keep going.
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I actually have been reading this book for a couple of weeks now, but I still haven't decided how I feel about it fully; some parts I loved, some others I haven't deciphered yet. So I will refrain from a star rating for now. I went into it expecting more of a romance, lighthearted vibe, so I was surprised to see that the book deals with some very important, more serious topics and social issues; and it does so in a way that feels genuine and authentic, not patronizing or just an attempt to make the book more "relevant" or timely. You can tell that it was written with care and love and that extensive research had gone into it. 

I am by no means an expert on Puerto Rican politics so I have no idea how accurately the author depicted and described certain topics. I will say, however, that I really enjoyed the fact that both Olga and Prieto were not clear-cut heroes, but rather complex human beings, each with their own weaknesses and battles. That being said, I found Olga a much more compelling character, so I enjoyed her chapters more. And while the author was very successful in allowing us to draw our own conclusions on these two, instead of presenting a clear-cut, patronizing narrative that essentially does all your thinking for you, I thought their mother was - for the most part - quite heavily villainized, and not really allowed the same complexity her children were. Again, I don't know if she is based on any real-life person or sequence of events, so I am not judging the accuracy of depiction here, I just think the book would have been more compelling had she been afforded some redeeming qualities. 

That being said, I think I found the conversations this book can spark far more interesting than the book itself? I didn't particularly care about the specific story, only the implications and discussions surrounding it, and while Olga was more compelling that Prieto, she is still not a character that stood out to me. I also just really disliked the ending of the book, so I think that was massively affected my overall impression of it.

** An ARC was provided via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. **
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This was an almost great book.  The characters were great and full of failings as well as having much good.  The dilemma of Puerto Rico citizens and their treatment as not-quite-American-although-they-are-American was full of frustration, identity confusion and the question of whether the great American dream is for everyone.  The book is also full of minorities doing well regardless of sex, colour or sexual preference.  The evil money loving corrupt white business guys were well mocked.
The two main characters were Olga Acevedo who runs a high-end wedding planning service and her brother Prieto who is a NY politician.  They both grapple with their life choices and the dilemma of their mother who is leading a secret community preparing to gain independence for Puerto Rico.  Lots of angst about what is the best way to improve the living standards of Puerto Ricans. 
The thing that let the book down for me was the sudden ending which changed the pace of the book dramatically and the various story lines which I had been following were wrapped up in a few paragraphs.
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Overall, a very interesting read. It took me a good few chapters to really get into the story and really understand what all was going on in the story. I had a hard time following the connections and plot but towards the end it was perfectly blended and truly showed the connections between siblings, friends, lovers, and ethnicities.
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I absolutely loved this book. I fell in love with the characters. Well, most of them. There were a few that I utterly despised which is actually a good thing. The character building in this story was incredible. The effects of trauma are shown throughout the characters and I really liked how it was all tied together. This is a story about a congressman and his sister, a wedding planner, and their tumultuous adult lives with an absent mother and a loving grandmother. Set in NYC, this story explores the effects that rich, white developers have made in neighborhoods, pushing many families out of their homes. There is also the devastation brought to Puerto Rico by a hurricane, leaving its residents without power, food, clean water, and more, as well as the help they tried to bring and their mother's wishes for them to not help. This story is full of political corruption and family struggles while also exploring what the American Dream really means.
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This book is a marker of the 21st Century.

It carries with it testimonies of how far we've come and the fruit of progressive reform, while reminding us of the long journey we still have in front of us. It deals with the intricacies of activism with its set of dilemmas that come with it. It reminds us that life runs on trade-offs, disguised under the illusion of choice.

This will be my favourite debut novel of 2022, I know it. I find it hard to believe Xóchitl is a debut author. She is a natural at this.

Olga had me wrapped around her finger. The way she presented herself is something I have always wanted to be. She is my dream-self, materialised in pages of a book. So I felt her anger like it was my own & I learnt many things about my own activism & how I should work to improve on it. The other characters' complexity was done impeccably well & none felt like plot devices. In fact, they felt less like characters and more like real people. This book reads like the most exciting memoir I never knew I needed.

The plot is modern and relevant. When the author dropped the plot points on me, I care so much about the characters that it was hard to not have my hand fly to my mouth. I found myself holding my breath so many times while I read, hardly believing what unfolded. <b>Nothing but a page-turner,</b> this book is.

The writing is so picturesque and engaging. Xóchitl is so fond of her culture and her people and I found that my heart reflected that same love. The way she wrote about Olga's family brought me back to my hometown's wooden house with the warmth of chaos of my Chinese immigrant family in SE Asia, a never-ending drone of the mingling dialects & laughter from my aunties & uncles. Time has taken those moments away, as everyone grew up in pursuit of a better life. far away. This book brought back that overwhelming comfort of being surrounded by family, food and culture that I very much miss. She captured it in a way I didn't think possible. 

Her writing sets its own standards. Sophisticated in the ways that matter and yet down-to-earth, genuine and unrefined in describing love, family and friendship.

The romance is absolutely fantastic, none of that puppy love you see in YA novels and yet still giving your heart a squeeze every time our protagonist and her love interest interact.

Criticism : The only minor criticism I have is that maybe the cover could use some improvement. I think the bold colours absolutely capture the spirit for the book but the design could do with some tweaking.
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