Olga Dies Dreaming

Macmillan Audio. Jan. 2022. 11:22 hrs. ISBN 9781405548434. $26.99. F
Gonzalez’s character-driven debut novel follows the adventures (and misadventures) of Puerto Rican Brooklynite siblings Olga and Prieto Acevedo. At age 40, Olga has achieved much success as a wedding planner for the superrich, but she has often used some pretty unethical business practices in her pursuit of profit. Prieto has risen from city council to the U.S. Congress, where he represents the siblings’ gentrifying neighborhood, but he has fallen victim to a blackmailer who has compromising photos of him. Because their parents were important activists for an independent Puerto Rico, Olga and Prieto each feel a sense of shame about some of their life choices, and the novel depicts their gradual progressions toward leading better lives. Gonzalez seamlessly weaves Puerto Rican history and culture into a fast-moving plot that also confronts issues such as racism, addiction, misogyny, and government corruption. Despite frequent changes in timeframe and point-of-view, the spirited performances of narrators Almarie Guerra, Inés del Castillo, and Armando Riesco blend together beautifully to give a cinematic feel to the novel, a television version of which is already in development with Hulu. In addition to giving distinctive voices to the main characters, the narrators also bring to life Gonzalez’s wonderful secondary characters, including the Acevedos’ fun-but-sometimes-exasperating family members and their often-shady business associates.
VERDICT Given the forthcoming TV adaptation, libraries should expect demand for this big-hearted, entertaining family drama that also touches on important social and political issues.
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