“Olga Dies Dreaming” by Xochitl Gonzalez follows Olga and her brother, Prieto, two New York natives with Puerto Rican roots who have spent their lives desperately trying to figure out who they are and what they want.
Both Olga and Prieto have found professional success. Olga is a wedding planner for the uber-rich, and Prieto is a congressman. Yet, neither is content with the life they have built. Their mother abandoned them when they were young to become a radical leader in the movement to free Puerto Rico. While it takes them a long time to realize it, that abandonment ultimately shapes who they become.
Both Olga and Prieto have their secrets, and the story follows each of them as they keep those secrets close while navigating love, lies, family, and success — all while their mother begins creeping back into their lives.
Meanwhile, Puerto Rico is devastated by Hurricane Maria, and both Olga and Prieto begin fighting desperately for the U.S. government to do more and to actually show it cares about its Black and brown citizens.
“Olga Dies Dreaming” is a beautiful force — completely unique in its intricacies yet universal in the characters’ desires to be loved and understood. Olga and Prieto contain so much depth, their storylines beautiful in their complexity. There is a lot going on in this novel, but the pieces are woven together exquisitely. It is intriguing and beautiful all the way through.
“Olga Dies Dreaming” is not your average story of two people looking for love. It is that, yes, but with political intrigue, social commentary, revolutionaries and mobsters, it is so much more.