Andrea’s Pick of the Week: Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez

It’s 2017, and fierce, independent Olga Acevedo is running a successful wedding planning business for the New York elite while her charming brother Prieto, a U.S. Congressman, fights for liberal causes and tries to stay true to their Puerto Rican roots. The siblings are close to their extended family since their father died of AIDS and their mother, a radical activist, left them while they were in their teens. Neither has a partner; Olga avoids serious relationships and Pietro is divorced. But underneath their busy, successful lives, long-buried secrets are about to boil over.

This is a book about self-discovery, owning one’s identity and heritage. Olga and Pietro are authentic, flawed characters who are trying to be what the world wants, yet increasingly uncomfortable with it. It’s about family too, and with the Acevedo clan, Gonzalez perfectly captures the love/hate relationships and petty rivalries that inevitably come up with those we are closest to. With the Acevedos’ strong Brooklyn roots and love for their neighborhood, the book is firmly grounded in New York. Brooklyn’s historic neighborhoods, with their constant gentrification, are a big theme, and Gonzalez skewers the ultra-rich Manhattanites who make up Olga’s clientele.

Olga Dies Dreaming is funny, honest, and feels like it comes straight from the author’s heart. It’s entertaining and thought-provoking at the same time, in the vein of Kiley Reid’s Such A Fun Age.

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