Melissa Lozada-Oliva's Dreaming of You is an absurd yet heartfelt examination of celebrity worship.
A young Latinx poet grappling with loneliness and heartache decides one day to bring Tejano pop star Selena Quintanilla back to life. The séance kicks off an uncanny trip narrated by a Greek chorus of gossiping spirits as she journeys through a dead celebrity prom, encounters her shadow self, and performs karaoke in hell.
In visceral poems embodying millennial angst, paragraph-long conversations overheard at her local coffeeshop, and unhinged Twitter rants, Lozada-Oliva reveals an eerie, sometimes gruesome, yet moving love story.
Playfully morbid and profoundly candid, an interrogation of Latinidad, womanhood, obsession, and disillusionment, Dreaming of You grapples with the cost of being seen for your truest self.
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wow. just wow. I practically inhaled this book. the writing, the story, the themes and messages. gah! I am so obsessed! What I like most about Melissa Lozada-Oliva's poetry is that it's unpretentious. The lyricism is brilliant, but it's not meant to confuse or gatekeep. Instead, it's designed to touch readers in a profound yet extremely accessible way. The story centres around Melissa, a Latinx poet who decides to bring latinx icon Selena back from the dead. As a fellow latinx millenial, I was familiar with Selena and what she means to many Latinx communities; however, I don't think this is necessary before going into the novel. Even if you know nothing about Selena and latinx culture, Lozada-Oliva's writing hooks you in and makes you understand. I will 10000% be picking up a physical copy when this comes out. This was iconic and I need it on my bookshelf.
I received a free copy of Dreaming of You from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. A story told in verse, Melissa is able to bring back a dead celebrity and she chooses Selena and it's a wild ride. Anyone who is somewhat familiar with the impact Selena has had will enjoy this book and be able to reflect on what it would mean if Selena came back from death.
Dreaming of You is a unique, refreshing and poignant work. Its format and style make it a perfect for millennial readers who struggle to finish a novel. Folks who love Patricia Lockwood's No One Is Talking About This for its apt understanding of how the influence of virtual communication can create new and engaging ways of writing will love that facet of this work, as well.
This was definitely one of the strangest books I've read and I can't say I was prepared for the ride. That being said, I recommend you read it! Lozada-Oliva does a good job at creating a mystical space where we could bring Selena - and inevitably other pop icons - back to "life". Her sneak disses (and not so subtle jabs) at media consumption / hyper-fanaticism / the Quintanilla family and folks who capitalize on the death of a loved one bring the book together nicely. I can't say I loved every single page because there were parts where I was like ಠ_ಠ what's goin on right now?? BUT there were gems in there that forced self-reflection and would be great to discuss with a friend / in a course / at a book club. See below for a gem of a verse: "And who are your friends, do you think? And do you believe you are loved? Tell me, is every party you throw just to see who would show up at your funeral? I know; you think I'm an extreme. You think I am an accelerationist. You think I am imbalanced. You think I need help. But please, tell me the name of the person you woud die for. Tell me about your precious career. Tell me about your confessional poetry. Tell ne about how you've turned everyone you've ever met into a poem. You can't immortalize everybody. You can't just bring people back to life. I killed her, okay. I killed her just to see myself better. But what are you doing here,"
oh my, wowza! Dreaming of You is sparkling and haunting all at once! The concept is one that I would never think of in a million years, ressurrenting Tejano pop star Selena Quintanilla. Full of pop culture references and a mastery of language, this was a wild ride that I couln't put down!
Dreaming of You was exactly as predicted, yet still a surprise. I had my highest hopes for this book, and it did not disappoint. I understand why this would not work for some people- it is quite experimental in my opinion- but it hit the spot for me. Lozada-Oliva, has a wonderful voice that is fully present and she does not hold back anything. It never feels like she is keeping her audience at an arms length, nor does she weirdly coddle them. The characters are very interesting and a bit confusing, but the poetry pulls it off. At times I was laughing out loud while reading, and at other points I felt my eye well up with fresh tears. Some of the poetry worked better for me than others, but I always appreciate the bearing of the soul so I cannot say any were bad. The author gracefully ricochets between critique, empathy, and an admittance of having no idea what is happening. I especially adored the most vulnerable pieces, where we can see the hearts of the characters and not just how they are perceived. Melissa Lozada-Oliva is not afraid, she keeps digging. While exploring Latinadad, Celebrity, Karaoke, she continues to be ridiculously funny and amiable. Every poem shows off her skill and intelligence, but none feel mocking or superior. I think the key that really pulls this whole shindig off is the compassion that she has for her characters and their decisions. This is not the same as agreement, but it allows each piece of plot to live freely on the page without judgement. The entire experience felt like going to the county fair late at night and continually losing and finding the people you came with- ultimately very unnerving but the relief when she reaches her peeks is visceral.
This was such a weird book and lately I've been in a weird mood so I ended up vibing with this one a lot. Dreaming of You is about a woman who ends up resurrecting Selena Quintanilla back from the dead. I really enjoyed this story. This was the first book written in verse that I've ever read and I liked it very much! The concept was extremely unique. A lot of the themes of this novel also really spoke to me. Melissa struggles a lot with loneliness and I've been grappling with similar feelings these days as well. There were times when I found myself snorting and moments where certain lines of prose hit me a little too hard. Honestly, this book was actually exactly what I needed to read today. It was wild and different and aching and I loved it more than I thought I would. Thank you to to Netgalley and the publishers for providing this arc in exchange for an honest review!
Special thanks to @netgalley and @astrahousebooks for the advanced reader copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! Dreaming of You by Melissa Lozada Oliva Genre: Verse, poetry, magical realism Synopsis: A lonely poet brings back to life Selena...because if she didn’t somebody else would. Upon doing so, a series of unfortunate and odd events begin to unravel. Through the use of verse and poetry, Dreaming of You is an exploration of loneliness paralleled with how pop culture icons can make us feel less lonely. But these icons aren’t our friends. They never will be. We are still alone. Review: This is a very quick read and definitely a very strange one. I enjoyed it, especially because I don’t read poetry much. The meanings intertwined within these pages are heavy and relatable. Selena was such an icon for the Latina community so I loved seeing her come back to life, even if it was merely though the art of writing. This one isn’t out until late October but on the bright side, a book about a seance is perfect for the Halloween spirit! I gave this book four stars but am definitely going to reread it sooner to its pub date!
I had an amazing evening reading Dreaming of You. I loved her collection peluda from a few years ago so I knew this would be great. It’s a novel in verse that revolves around a fictionalized version of the poet who brings Selena Quintanilla back from the dead. The title recalls the singer’s posthumous album of the same name. I absolutely loved this book and how effortlessly it switches back and forth between these dark, searing moments and these manic, funny scenes. The speaker’s voice is so clear and recognizable, and as a Brit, it was interesting to see how Selena is perceived and kind of "owned" by her fans in some ways. Very cool, check it out if you can!
I didn’t know what to expect with this novel, it was strange but eye-opening. The format was unusual and unique, but it brought out the story and message. Can I say this novel is absurdist? I will do so anyway 😅 This absurdist novel dealt with issues that get overlooked in our BIPoC communities, especially identity crises and so forth. It was refreshing to read this novel, with the idea of celebrity praise (I too would resurrect Selena) and the impact that celebrities have on us. This book made me laugh and cry, laugh and cry, and so on.
This novel in verse finds our narrator resurrecting the ghost of beloved icon Selena, a vehicle to consider celebrity, jealousy, familial connection, and latinidad in the U.S. Recent years have seen a saturation of Selena related media and this book is self aware of that fact, taking both a critical and personally sentimental eye to the projections people place on Selena’s life and death. This was a quick and enjoyable read for me, and I recommend it to others craving non linear narratives infused with macabre humor and vulnerability.
Dreaming of you is timeless, tasteful, and flavored like an experiment gone right. It’s my new favorite novel in verse. With all the lyricism of your favorite fever dream, the novel follows a journey from seance to self. Melissa is lonely to her core, and imagines Selena Quinanilla as her best friend. So one night, when the darkness is just kissing death’s doorstep, Melissa brings Selena Quintanilla back from the dead. Yet something is off. The Selena that comes back is all static and blur. She can only speak in sound bites from the past. And as Selena begins to crystallize, Melissa feels herself fading. With tenderness, Lozada-Oliva starts a crusading interrogation of how our relationship to pop culture is disingenuous. What if bringing Selena back just means killing her again? What does it mean to love someone whose tragedy formed a community? As she writes, “is Selena the hole that’s been carved out for me? I can jam my body through it but I’ll probably fall to the other side. Is my body Selena-adjacent?” Then there is the question of celebrity idolization. Are we all Icarus, taking our darlings too close to the sun? Imagine for a moment if they lived to a ripe old age, long enough to tweet that they are pro-life? We are relentless in our desire to savor celebrities in their prime, yet so quick to discard their humanity. We fine-tune ourselves against them. We juxtapose our jealousy with idolatry to justify their commercialization. While the novel focuses on our relationship with pop idols, as well feminism, queerness and latinidad; I couldn’t help but wonder if I am part of a generation who is defined by grief, who needs manufactured jealousy to feel anything. I wonder how much social media skews my perception of myself, yet I am still here because I also struggle for a self without others. The novel felt like a personal call-out in certain ways, but I didn’t come out with answers. Instead, I admire the beauty of the hand that wrote those words. Instead, I walk out of the pages with my cheeks singed red, reverberating in the aftermath of a haunted slap.