WellRead January Selection: Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez

The term "beach read" gets thrown around rather a lot this time of year. The concept has become so ubiquitous and yet there is no real agreed definition of what it actually means. Some readers assume it refers to genre (a cheap and cheerful summer fling of a read, maybe romance, possibly a thriller), others think it must have something to do with summer or being on holiday, and other more sceptical readers think of it more as a marketing ploy rather than any specific type of literature. For what it's worth, our interpretation of the term is not so much its genre but its essence: juicy, engrossing, enjoyable, plotted at a brisk pace, it will be better company than the conversation at your dysfunctional third cousin's barbeque and as gratifying as an almost-frozen beer. They're our thoughts anyway, and they just happen to be the ingredients that make up this month's selection.

Introducing January's selection Olga Dies Dreaming by Xóchitl González - an intelligent and impressive debut novel that centres around a Nuyorican brother and sister from gentrifying Brooklyn who are reckoning with an absent, politically radical mother, their own identities, and glittering careers among New York City’s elite. Set in the months surrounding the most devastating hurricane in Puerto Rico’s history, the story explores political corruption, gentrification, familial strife, community, love, betrayal, the complicated inheritance of diaspora, and the very notion of the American Dream.

As warmhearted as it is tough-minded, we were totally absorbed by this wild and epic story, and hope that wherever you read it - at the beach, by a creek, in bed (highly recommend) - you are too!

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