Olga Dies Dreaming starts out with a bang and immediately breaks down consumerism and excessive spending via the main character Olga Isabel Acevedo. Olga has built her business from the ground up and is charging wealthy women a large fee to plan their weddings. She is a professional and runs a very tight ship. However, she isn’t afraid to bend the rules occasionally when she needs to if it benefits her.
Olga grew up with a fractured family. Her mother abandoned the family for the revolution in Puerto Rico. Her father died of AIDS and her brother Prieto became a politician. This has made her tough and goal oriented. She has difficulty letting people in and her love life is basically non existent for someone whose career involves weddings. She also has been involved in an affair with a man known for his shady business deals. When Olga meets a man named Matteo he charms her in an unexpected way and she finds herself able to open up to him. Watching her open up and offer more to Matteo was beautiful to read. There are also some more funny moments which help Olga come more into her own.
As Olga is coming to her own, her brother Prieto is struggling to hide parts of himself. As a man and a politician he has kept pieces of himself hidden from everyone including his family. One of these pieces is the fact that he is gay. He has slept with men hoping to keep it secret but the wrong people find out and he must vote to support them politically. Similar to Olga, Prieto is on a journey to find himself and be true to who he really is. The siblings stories parallel each other with their growth and their relationship with their long lost mother.
Letters from their mother are spread through out the book. These letters are from the past and impact the future. Through these letters, you learn their mothers devotion to the revolution and the sacrifices she wants her children to make in the name of Puerto Rico. Honestly their mother frustrated me. I understood that she was devotes to her home country but she had two children who still wanted a mother in their lives. And she had no interest in those relationships. My heart went out to Olga and Prieto as they tried to find footing with or without their revolutionary leader of a mother. Also, the mother could be kind of funny especially when talking about and threatening the 45th president of the United States.
Olga Dies Dreaming is a stunning debut novel. It mixes romance, family tension, and political/social standing in the perfect blend. This would make a good book for book club discussions. Readers who enjoy multicultural stories stories will feel pulled into the family dynamic presented here. You will want to know what happens with each character and in particular if Olga and Prieto find their happily ever after.
Ratng: 4 Stars