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Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez
Contemporary fiction

Olga Dies Dreaming

Debut
We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Xochitl Gonzalez, on your first book!
Early Release
This is an early release that's only available to our members—the rest of the world has to wait 'til next month to read it.

by Xochitl Gonzalez

Quick take

Two siblings vie for the American dream until Hurricane Maria drags their estranged mother back into their lives.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FamilyDrama

    Family drama

  • Illustrated icon, Icons_Buzzy

    Buzzy

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_MamaDrama

    Mama drama

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Nyc

    NYC

Illustrated icon, Icon_Challenging_Indicator

FYI

This book contains mentions of suicide and sexual assault.

Why I love it

Eva Recinos
Writer, Editor, and creator of Notes from Eva

While our inner selves are always changing, it’s often hard to separate our identities from the places that shaped us. Olga Dies Dreaming is a rich exploration of that eternal theme, carefully illuminating the complexities of a seemingly familiar topic.

In a rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn, siblings Olga and Pedro (aka Prieto) walk a delicate balance between remembering their roots and surviving within the worlds of wealthy socialites and problematic politicians. Prieto works as a congressman while Olga choreographs weddings for the wealthy with finesse. But they didn’t reach these goals easily. The two grew up largely fending for themselves, while their father struggled with addiction, eventually passing away. Their mother left them behind for her own political goals, sending letters now and then from undisclosed locations. Her quest to bring more power to Puerto Rico through radical means is at the forefront of her mind, always — even as Olga and Prieto lead their lives in ways they hope their mother will praise. Their grandmother’s house in Sunset Park is their anchor, with family rotating in and out.

But when Hurricane Maria hits, the fragile facade of their family dynamics start to unravel. The siblings must find their own footing — and accept the truth about their mother. The novel investigates what happens when you slowly realize the person you most yearn for is actually the one hurting you.

Olga Dies Dreaming intricately presents its flawed characters working through the meaning of cultural identity, family secrets, grief, and self-preservation. Their stories capture the ways in which we sometimes define ourselves by how others see us — to often painful ends.

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Synopsis

It's 2017, and Olga and her brother, Pedro “Prieto” Acevedo, are boldfaced 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 power brokers.

Despite their alluring public lives, behind closed doors things are far less rosy. Sure, Olga can orchestrate the love stories of the 1 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.

Olga and Prieto’s 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, Xochitl Gonzalez’s 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.

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Preview

Get an early look from the first pages of Olga Dies Dreaming.

Member thoughts

All (1997)
All (1997)
Love (1079)
Like (768)
Dislike (150)
2031 ratings
  • 53% Love
  • 38% Like
  • 7% Dislike
  • Arlington, VA

    Loved this! The character development of Olga & Prieto had me crying & growing right alongside them. I loved how the characters’ strengths & flaws were both highlighted so wonderfully & realistically

  • brooklyn, NY

    I was completely moved by the story. Being a Brooklynite myself I’ve met people who this could have been their lives. Being second class citizens to the mainland is horrible, America needs to do bette

  • Gibsonia, PA

    Olga Dies Dreaming is a rich story of modern American life, filled with lessons about politics that tattoo NYC neighborhoods interwoven with relatable everyday shenanigans and relationship struggles.

  • Bozeman, MT

    Loved this thought-provoking, compelling, and ultimately uplifting story about secrets, family, politics, and the courage of self-exploration. Hard to believe this gorgeously written novel is a debut.

  • ATLANTA, GA

    Enjoyed the character development and the engrossing plot at the end. I thought it would be a lighter read but appreciated its political commentary. Thankful my mom is not like the main characters’!

  • McLean, VA

    Couldn’t put it down. What a wonderfully written novel with so much information on the history of Puerto Rico and it’s modern issues and fights for independence. Very eye opening and compelling.

  • Milwaukee, WI

    This book contains sumptuous history and culture that wrapped around me and brought each word to life. While it contained deep and sometimes painful struggles, this was revolutionary (pun intended!)

  • Bremerton, WA

    The cover art is terrible. But, the characters were awesome, complex and unique. The story went in a direction that I wasn't expecting. And I really enjoyed that. It's between love & like for me.

  • Atlanta, GA

    I really enjoyed this! I appreciated the ways it became more and more nuanced, both in terms of its plotting and character development, into heavier topics like the neocolonialism of Puerto Rico

  • Brooklyn, NY

    As a Brooklynite with Puerto Rican heritage, I was moved by the character development between the siblings while reading about the political dealings and the bureaucracy in the wake of Maria.

  • Denver, CO

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ !!! Loved the characters and found the writing to be absolutely beautiful. I learned so much about Puerto Rico, as well. I’d recommend this book to anyone!

  • Logan, UT

    A real thinking book about what a revolution could look like through the eyes of two siblings who grow up with an absent mother who manages to emotionally abuse them for “the cause.”

  • Paris, TX

    Powerful story, packs a punch, especially as it reveals truths we’ve recently lived through, with an extremely deft hand. Hard to Believe this is a debut. Should be required reading!

  • Austin , TX

    This book kinda blew my mind. I loved Olga's complexity. I liked that the messed up parent didn't have to get the forgiveness redemption arc that often happens. Really solid read.

  • Loveland, CO

    The author wrote with passion and kept me locked in to the characters. The devastation of Puerto Rico, the corruption of government officials and how they healed their family

  • Knoxville, TN

    Brilliant, strange story of family trauma and being torn between multiple identities. Not always the most linear in plot or characterization, but a wonderful read nonetheless.

  • Wimauma, FL

    This book is amazing! I almost cried so many times! As a Puerto Rican women this book spoke to my soul. This book speaks to the lantix community and our traumas. A must read!

  • Morgantown, WV

    Best book I’ve read in a long time! I learned a lot about Puerto Rico’s history while also being sucked in by vibrant characters and excellent storytelling.

  • Jericho, VT

    I loved this book. The story wrapped around the history was terrific. The characters were well developed and interesting. I would and have highly recommend it.

  • Richmond, TX

    Wow! I could not put this book down! Loved the Acevedo extended family, the PR & American politics, and Matteo ❤. An enthralling debut, highly recommend!

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