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Olga Dies Dreaming

Updated: Aug 19, 2022

I had thirty pages to go and I had to get out of the house. I drove to Heritage Park,

walked along the path to the river, and sat on the bench by the willows. A book this

good deserved my full, undivided attention, something increasingly hard to come by at

home with two littles and piles of laundry waiting to be folded in the living room.

This week I finished the contemporary fiction novel Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl

Gonzalez, a New York Times Best Seller dubbed most anticipated book of 2022 by

TIME, HipLatina, Parade, The Rumpus, Goodreads, Boston Globe, Philadelphia

Inquirer, Bustle, Kirkus, Book Riot, Popsugar, Barnes & Noble, The Stacks, and more.

The story takes place in 2017, in the months leading up to and after Puerto Rico’s most

devastating hurricane. The book oscillates between two similar yet vastly different

worlds: Puerto Rico and the gentrifying Latinx neighborhood of Sunset Park in Brooklyn,

New York.

At first, the story appears straightforward—a relatively privileged woman searches for

love in the Big Apple—but it turns out to be something entirely different and far more

complex. In this stunning debut, Olga, an elite wedding planner, and her brother, Pedro

“Prieto” Acevedo, a New York congressman, grapple with the longstanding

psychological abuse of their absent mother, Blanca, who leaves them at an early age to

advance a militant political cause.

This is a book about finding the courage to bring secrets to life, seeking help to process

the traumas of our past, relying on community, and unmasking the persona we project

into the world so that we can present, and ultimately accept, the truest version of

ourselves. This is a book about finding and defending home; it’s a book about the New

York that is slowly disappearing and seldom talked about—the one that belongs to

immigrant communities.

As humans we sometimes lose sight of our true identity, which affects our relationships,

our personal and professional lives, as well as our priorities and goals. The parallel

storylines of Olga and her brother, Prieto, are examples of how necessary it is to

journey back to the center of who we are—beyond other people’s expectations of

ourselves—so that we may adequately assess where we’ve been in order to know

where we are going.

In the same way the island of Puerto Rico is devastated after Hurricane Maria, Olga and

Prieto are forced to rebuild their shattered lives, to make meaning out of the messiness,

to practice their own type of “Kintsugi,” the Japanese art of gluing broken pottery pieces

back together with gold—a metaphor for embracing our flaws and imperfections in order

to create something more beautiful.

Another day has passed and the laundry hasn’t budged; in fact, I just added another

basket of clean laundry to the pile. But I’m okay with that. This morning, instead of

folding the laundry, I got to hold both of my boys in my lap for a little story time together.

We read and snuggled and spent meaningful time together, something that is far more

important than a growing list of house tasks or the wrinkled laundry I’ll eventually fold.

Now that Olga Dies Dreaming is back on the library shelves, I’m looking forward to

picking out my next book and taking another trip to the park to read. What about you?

Where do you like to read? What books are demanding your full, undivided attention?

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