A blazing talent debuts with the tale of a status-driven wedding planner grappling with her social ambitions, absent mother, and Puerto Rican roots - all in the wake of Hurricane Maria
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.
"Don't underestimate this new novelist. She's jump-starting the year with a smart romantic comedy that lures us in with laughter and keeps us hooked with a fantastically engaging story." - The Washington Post
"Atmospheric, intelligent, and well informed: an impressive debut." - Kirkus
"A fantastically engaging story...Rarely does a novel, particularly a debut novel, contend so powerfully and so delightfully with such a vast web of personal, cultural, political and even international imperatives." - The Washington Post
"[An] edifying debut... Gonzalez elevates this family drama with a great deal of insight on the characters' diaspora and politics." - Publishers Weekly
"A wonderful and thought-provoking story..." - BookRiot
"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." - Book of the Month
"Xochitl Gonzalez delivers a healthy dose of tough love with her buzzy debut Olga Dies Dreaming." - TIME
"In her ambitious debut novel, Gonzalez explores such weighty topics as coercion, rape, gentrification, and the colonial exploitation...Shining throughout, however, is the redeeming quality of love in all its iterations: romantic, fraternal, paternal, patriotic, and ultimately, love of self." - Booklist
"Vibrant and raw... Olga Dies Dreaming delivers a roller coaster's worth of beautiful highs and lows. All told, it's an experience worth savoring." - BookPage
"Hilarious... A sprawling dramedy of love, politics, blackmail and real estate featuring a Puerto Rican family in Brooklyn. - People
"The extraordinary accomplishment of Olga Dies Dreaming is in how a familiar-enough tale--a woman seeking love, happiness, and fulfillment in the big city--slowly reveals itself to be something else altogether. It's a book about a New York that isn't always celebrated, the one that belongs to immigrant communities; about money, class, and political power; about one vividly-imagined family and the very idea of the American Dream." - Rumaan Alam, author of Leave the World Behind
"In this sparkling debut, Gonzalez digs deep into the damaged heart of a family, ably dissecting the knottiness of conditional love, identity, loyalty, secrets and the very definition of home. That she manages to cover so much ground with wisdom, tenderness and abundant humor makes this book a complete joy, and I will think about its richly drawn, deeply human characters for a very long time." - Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney, author of The Nest and Good Company