Olga Dies Dreaming Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
It's 2017, and Olga and her brother, Pedro 'Prieto' Acevedo, are bold-faced names in their hometown of New York. Prieto is a popular congressman representing their gentrifying, Latinx neighbourhood 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 one per cent, 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.
Twenty-seven years ago, their 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 barrelling 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, 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.
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|Listening Length||11 hours and 22 minutes|
|Narrator||Almarie Guerra, Armando Riesco, Inés del Castillo|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com.au Release Date||06 January 2022|
|Publisher||Hachette Audio UK|
|Best Sellers Rank|| 6,108 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
13 in Satire Fiction
13 in Hispanic-American Literature
15 in United States Literature
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Top reviews from Australia
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This story is rich in Puerto Rican culture and history; I learned so much without feeling like sitting in a lecture. Information weaves throughout the narrative, mainly from Olga and Prieto's mother's letters as she rants against the world. I knew a little about political activist groups that become violent, and this broadened my awareness, introducing a wider perspective on a lot of cultural and political ideologies and movements.
Olga is the most confusing character. She's strong and in control at times, maintaining aloof romantic relationships that fit her needs and running an impressive business - but she's also doing a lot of shady shit. Like, she is kind of a part of the Russian mafia and scamming her clients. And all these sides of her are presented in the same light, carrying the same amount of weight and morality. So how am I supposed to know what to think if Xóchitl González doesn't tell me what I'm supposed to think?! Thankfully, Olga has Matteo in her life - without him, I'm reasonably certain she would have ended up as a full-blown member of the mafia, or in prison, or something along these lines. So Matteo becomes a sort of moral backdrop to which Olga's actions can be contrasted and put into perspective, not only for the reader but for Olga as well.
My favourite aspect, and the most inspirational part of Olga Dies Dreaming , is the insightful discussion of activism and the role it has played throughout history as well as its importance and potential in future. It doesn't sugarcoat how activism works, and in fact, goes into the gritty details and how far some groups will go outside of the law to achieve their goals. Instead, it portrays the roles played by many different kinds of people in social movements, leaving it up to the reader to draw their own conclusions.
I appreciated the difficult differentiation between unavoidable moments disguised as choice and difficult choices disguised as unavoidable. Both Olga and Prieto face a lot of these moments, and they don't always make the honourable, or arguably 'right' choice - which makes them interesting and more realistic characters. Of course, it's always easy to judge from the outside when others make seemingly unthinkable decisions, but Olga Dies Dreaming drives home the point repeatedly that no one ever knows the whole story.
The breadth of this novel is breathtaking. Olga Dies Dreaming touches on militant activist groups, addiction, cultural norms, AIDS, hoarding, relationships, and hurricanes (and those are just the main topics). The writing is easy to read but sophisticated; it caught me off guard at times to be reading about wedding planning and Russian mobsters in the same context, but it made the story more exciting rather than unbelievable. This is my first 2022 book, and it's setting a high standard for any other books that will be published (technically) next year.
My favourite thing in this book was the fascinating relationship between 40-something siblings Olga and Prieto, and their absent-for-27-years mother, Blanca. Imagine this: Your mother abandons you during your youth to join an underground militant cause. In the intervening years, her only communication is one-way traffic in the form of letters sent irregularly that offer advice, provide criticism and make demands. Blanca knows when and which buttons to push, and she does so irrespective of the impact to her children. It’s no wonder that Olga and Prieto are not the well-adjusted, successful adults they outwardly appear to be.
I also liked the way the author portrays all her characters – the good, the ignorant and the monstrous. The family dynamics showed strong familial bonds even in the face of great disappointment or everyday bickering.
What didn’t work for me was how the author wove Puerto Rico into the story. It’s a significant plot driver but I felt the author assumed too much knowledge. This book was a start/stop affair because I was often researching, trying to sort fact from fiction. Frustratingly, it’s not until very late in the book that the author offers a concise history of Puerto Rico. If I had this information much earlier in the book it would have made for an entirely different, and much more pleasurable, reading experience.
Do I recommend this book? It’s a cautious yes. I would advise readers to jump to the 80%-ish mark to read Blanca’s letter dated May 20, 2016 for the short history lesson before starting.
Top reviews from other countries
Reviewed in the United States on 11 January 2022