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Review: Olga Dies by Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez

Title: Olga Dies Dreaming

Author: Xochitl Gonzalez
Year published: 2022
Category: Adult fiction
Pages: 384 pages
Rating: 4 out of 5

Location: ((my 2023 Google Reading map)USA (NY and Puerto Rico)

SummaryIt’s 2017, and Olga and her brother, Pedro “Prieto” Acevedo are bold-faced names in their hometown of New York. Prieto is a popular Congressman representing their gentrifying Latinx neighborhood in Brooklyn while Olga is the tony wedding planner for Manhattan’s powerbrokers. 

Despite their alluring public lives, behind closed doors things are far less rosy. Sure, Olga can orchestrate the love stories of the one percent, but she can’t seem to find her own...until she meets Matteo, who forces her to confront the effects of long-held family secrets....

Twenty-seven years ago, their mother, Blanca, a Young Lord-turned-radical, abandoned her children to advance a militant political cause, leaving them to be raised by their grandmother. Now, with the winds of hurricane season, Blanca has come barreling back into their lives. 

Set against the backdrop of New York City in the months surrounding the most devastating hurricane in Puerto Rico’s history, Olga Dies Dreaming is a story that examines political corruption, familial strife, and the very notion of the American dream—all while asking what it really means to weather a storm. 

Review: This book was recommended by a friend and former teaching colleague months ago. The Puerto Rico hurricane was so devastating and the US handled it so badly that I was looking forward to seeing how it would be treated in the story. It turns out the hurricane doesn't appear until at least half way through so it's weird that it figured so prominently in the summary.

I wasn't sure about this book at first. Olga is a good character and well thought out but she is a bit shady in her business dealings, talks about all the men she sleeps with, and is a bit all over the place. That said, she grew on me and I think she matured as the novel progressed.

There are a lot of issues that are brought up through the various characters: sexual identity; HIV; politics; the role of the US in Puerto Rico (and vice versa); family expectations; revolution/rebellion; and more. I liked that because it meant there was always something going on, but it's also a lot. 

All in all, I think this was well written, had interesting characters, and brought up interesting perspectives on Puerto Rico that most American readers will know nothing about (love learning in a book!).

Challenges for which this counts:
  • Alphabet (Author)--X
  • Alphabet (Title)--O

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