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Dreaming of You: A Novel in Verse

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A macabre love story in verse about celebrity, loss, and longing following a poet who resurrects pop star Selena from the dead. Absurd, lyrical, and heartfelt, Melissa Lozada-Oliva's Dreaming of You is a genre-bending novel in verse that examines questions of death, love, celebrity, and queer identity. Melissa, a young Latinx poet grappling with loneliness and heartache, bri A macabre love story in verse about celebrity, loss, and longing following a poet who resurrects pop star Selena from the dead. Absurd, lyrical, and heartfelt, Melissa Lozada-Oliva's Dreaming of You is a genre-bending novel in verse that examines questions of death, love, celebrity, and queer identity. Melissa, a young Latinx poet grappling with loneliness and heartache, brings Tejano pop star Selena Quintanilla back to life. The séance kicks off an uncanny trip narrated by a Greek chorus of gossiping spirits as Melissa journeys through a dead celebrity prom, encounters her shadow self, and performs karaoke in hell. An eerie, sometimes gruesome, yet moving love story, and an interrogation of Latinidad, womanhood, obsession, and disillusionment, Dreaming of You grapples with the cost of being seen for your truest self.


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A macabre love story in verse about celebrity, loss, and longing following a poet who resurrects pop star Selena from the dead. Absurd, lyrical, and heartfelt, Melissa Lozada-Oliva's Dreaming of You is a genre-bending novel in verse that examines questions of death, love, celebrity, and queer identity. Melissa, a young Latinx poet grappling with loneliness and heartache, bri A macabre love story in verse about celebrity, loss, and longing following a poet who resurrects pop star Selena from the dead. Absurd, lyrical, and heartfelt, Melissa Lozada-Oliva's Dreaming of You is a genre-bending novel in verse that examines questions of death, love, celebrity, and queer identity. Melissa, a young Latinx poet grappling with loneliness and heartache, brings Tejano pop star Selena Quintanilla back to life. The séance kicks off an uncanny trip narrated by a Greek chorus of gossiping spirits as Melissa journeys through a dead celebrity prom, encounters her shadow self, and performs karaoke in hell. An eerie, sometimes gruesome, yet moving love story, and an interrogation of Latinidad, womanhood, obsession, and disillusionment, Dreaming of You grapples with the cost of being seen for your truest self.

30 review for Dreaming of You: A Novel in Verse

  1. 5 out of 5

    Owlinthemoon

    First I want to say that I hate to focus so much on the author and her identity because it feels more like I'm writing a personal attack rather than a book review, but it's unavoidable with this book. The main character is a "fictionalized" version of the author (even has the same name) and one of the main themes in this book, as in her poetry collection "Peluda," is cultural identity. Selena Quintanilla is the entry point to a lot of the musings regarding this topic. Anyway, I got this book for First I want to say that I hate to focus so much on the author and her identity because it feels more like I'm writing a personal attack rather than a book review, but it's unavoidable with this book. The main character is a "fictionalized" version of the author (even has the same name) and one of the main themes in this book, as in her poetry collection "Peluda," is cultural identity. Selena Quintanilla is the entry point to a lot of the musings regarding this topic. Anyway, I got this book for free and read it against my better judgment. I recently read "Peluda" and wasn't impressed, since MLO (the author) is clearly one of those diaspora kids with identity issues that are borderline ridiculous to those of us who are actually members of the communities that these diaspora kids desperately want to be a part of. MLO currently identifies as a "Guatelombian mess" in her Instagram profile (tangent: this writer should consider deleting all her social media profiles). In reality she is neither Guatemalan nor Colombian — she's an American who exploits the nationalities of her parents, as well as the "Latina" label, as a way to escape being placed in the same category as white Americans, who she culturally has more in common with than she ever will with Guatemalans and Colombians. With that in mind, it's no surprise that she feels she has a ton of stuff in common with Selena Quintanilla, a Mexican-American woman from a culture that is literally nothing like either of MLO's parents' cultures. This is why it's so clear that she's an American. Americans are the ones with a hazy understanding of Latin America. The "Latino" label itself is something that has a lot more significance in the United States, and it was mainly created as a way for Yankees to lump all Spanish-speaking immigrants together. Every time this writer tries to make it seem like other people are the ones who don't realize that all Latinos aren't the same it comes across as disingenuous, because she herself seems to know next to nothing about her parents' cultures. Of course MLO feels she has tons in common with Selena merely because they share a few extremely superficial traits. Everything that these cosplay "Latino" writers put out is so obnoxiously American this way. It's a bunch of watered-down nonsense made for people who don't know anything about Latin America and who only have a flattened idea of the entire region in their minds. Why is a "Guatelombian" writer channeling all her identity issues by relating them to a deceased Mexican-American woman? I don't know a single Colombian who would be inclined to do that. Guatemalans would be even less inclined to compare themselves to some Mexican idol, given the fact Mexico treats Guatemala like shit. But since at her core MLO is just an American, it makes perfect sense that she relates to Selena, because all she sees is the American aspect of Selena — the Mexican part is just a confused mishmash of what MLO thinks being "Latina" is. I could go on and on about why I'm not into this book, but it would take way too long. The stuff regarding ethnicity is only one of the things I don't like. I'm still undecided on how I feel about using a dead person for a "novel" the way that Selena was utilized in this book. I'm not saying people can never include real people who have passed away in their books, but I think the "artistic license" a writer takes should be kept to a minimum. Don't make the deceased say or do things that they never did, and if you do make them do something, have it be a really small, innocuous thing. For example, I wouldn't mind if a character in a book said they spotted Selena walking down the street once. In this book, MLO sticks to using fragments of things Selena actually said, so she didn't go totally overboard, but I still think she pushed the limit more than I'm comfortable with. The last thing I'll say is that this also disappointed as a work of fiction. It didn't feel like I was reading a novel. It's marketed as a novel "in verse," so I knew it would be written in a poetry format, but it just felt too disjointed and lacking in an actual story. It was more like a regular poetry collection where Selena Quintanilla was the driving force.

  2. 4 out of 5

    andreea.

    This was clearly a weird ride, but enjoyable nonetheless. I was interested in the advertised themes (Latinidad, queer identity, grief, motherhood, feminism), and its being a novel in verse with a gorgeous cover. The book is a resurrection in verse of Mexican-American singer Selena, shot to death by her female friend and manager in 1995; the title owns its name to Selena's last, posthumously released album. I felt a lot of potential, but the layout of this book did not really do much for me. Ther This was clearly a weird ride, but enjoyable nonetheless. I was interested in the advertised themes (Latinidad, queer identity, grief, motherhood, feminism), and its being a novel in verse with a gorgeous cover. The book is a resurrection in verse of Mexican-American singer Selena, shot to death by her female friend and manager in 1995; the title owns its name to Selena's last, posthumously released album. I felt a lot of potential, but the layout of this book did not really do much for me. There were some brilliant parts on female identity and the allure of celebrity in the mind of the audience, but more often than not, the book felt unnecessarily naive and clumsy. There is a cast of characters at the very beginning, in which the murderer comes first and is described as a "massive manipulator" and "possible lesbian," the mother is a domestic caretaker defined by the "smell of cloro on Sunday mornings," the bereft father is a testimony to the future as "just a story we tell," You are "the consumer and the consumed," and the author herself is a Prospero-figure assuming the identity of them all. There were some highs (the social commentary, the almost aggressive nature of the themes of media, queerness, Latin identity), and some lows. I am not the best consumer of Rupi-Kaur-ish verses, which does not exactly describes this book, but the truth is not that far either. The poems I did enjoy, though, I enjoyed wholeheartedly (The Future is Lodged Inside of the Female, I am looking at you), and they would have worked better as set-pieces in a poetry collection, rather than a novel in verse, which I think is a very difficult genre to pull off. After finishing this, I was curious to read more of Lozada-Oliva's standalone poetry, and oh gosh, it is oh so good. Why wasn't this novel just as good? Here is one poem I enjoyed: Just to Make Things Clear, I Am Not a Haunted Person It's always my mom or my sisters who see women in gowns, standing over their beds saying their name, who, when a glass breaks or a pair of pants rips, say, "I had a dream about this," who tell me of seeing Abuelita dance with skeletons and grave-stones through our door and out the window, who feel that there are cats sleeping underneath the porch just because of the way wind dances outside, who kiss people and just "get a certain feeling," who have a dream about their tights ripping and then the next day there's the tear, who believe that the dead aren't really dead but whistling at them from the trees, who move through their lives following the trail of salt in front of them, trusting it will take them somewhere with sun. I've never felt leaves winking at me. I do not carry crystals in my pockets. I buy candles and forget to light them. I've let an iced coffee mold over my tarot deck. I record everything compulsively. I want to leave everything behind. [ARC provided via Netgalley.]

  3. 4 out of 5

    Yesika Salgado

    Melissa's true magic is amplified in every page of this raw and strange book. zombie Selena is a gut punch. the rebuilding of a story we all collectively know so well, intertwined by Melissa's hunger for self, love and understanding is a spell I haven't stepped out of yet. if you enjoyed Miranda July's short story collection 'No One Belongs Here More Than You', this book is absolutely for you. Melissa's true magic is amplified in every page of this raw and strange book. zombie Selena is a gut punch. the rebuilding of a story we all collectively know so well, intertwined by Melissa's hunger for self, love and understanding is a spell I haven't stepped out of yet. if you enjoyed Miranda July's short story collection 'No One Belongs Here More Than You', this book is absolutely for you.

  4. 4 out of 5

    dove lee

    dreamy brilliant sparkling fleshy-pink stories!! people love to hate especially on. like? women existing & just writing their weird little poems minding their own business but i like what this book did and the way in which it was done. my favorite poem is yolanda & selena don't talk anymore. it makes me cry every time i read it. i love u melissa i'm a big fan. dreamy brilliant sparkling fleshy-pink stories!! people love to hate especially on. like? women existing & just writing their weird little poems minding their own business but i like what this book did and the way in which it was done. my favorite poem is yolanda & selena don't talk anymore. it makes me cry every time i read it. i love u melissa i'm a big fan.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sydney Haas

    gonna be sitting with this one for a while. the alternate endings punched me in the heart!! And the contrapuntals!! I had high expectations for this & I don’t like having high expectations but they were absolutely fulfilled. Melissa puts words to all the thoughts you thought were unique to you but in a way that makes you feel loved. Such a seamless read & grapples with the messiness of the subject matter, the ethics around writing about the messy subject matter, etc. in a really thoughtful way. gonna be sitting with this one for a while. the alternate endings punched me in the heart!! And the contrapuntals!! I had high expectations for this & I don’t like having high expectations but they were absolutely fulfilled. Melissa puts words to all the thoughts you thought were unique to you but in a way that makes you feel loved. Such a seamless read & grapples with the messiness of the subject matter, the ethics around writing about the messy subject matter, etc. in a really thoughtful way. & how she plays with time & form. just engaging all around!!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    I received a free copy of Dreaming of You from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. A story told in verse, Melissa is able to bring back a dead celebrity and she chooses Selena and it's a wild ride. Anyone who is somewhat familiar with the impact Selena has had will enjoy this book and be able to reflect on what it would mean if Selena came back from death. I received a free copy of Dreaming of You from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. A story told in verse, Melissa is able to bring back a dead celebrity and she chooses Selena and it's a wild ride. Anyone who is somewhat familiar with the impact Selena has had will enjoy this book and be able to reflect on what it would mean if Selena came back from death.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ness (Vynexa)

    Thank you to Astra Publishing House for providing me with an early copy of Dreaming of You for review. Not sure why I keep reading poetry when I'm not a critical enough reader to understand it. Poetry calls to me, I need to learn how to ignore said calls. That being said, I enjoyed this collection. The author plays with the idea of bringing Selena back from the dead with parts of herself and the parts of Selena we got to witness in interviews. Only for Selena to leave and losing herself bit by bit. Thank you to Astra Publishing House for providing me with an early copy of Dreaming of You for review. Not sure why I keep reading poetry when I'm not a critical enough reader to understand it. Poetry calls to me, I need to learn how to ignore said calls. That being said, I enjoyed this collection. The author plays with the idea of bringing Selena back from the dead with parts of herself and the parts of Selena we got to witness in interviews. Only for Selena to leave and losing herself bit by bit. There are plays on Yolanda, Selena and Selena's family as to how it would affect them seeing someone they have been morning coming back while being... different. My only complaint are the two times we get Selena's perspective. The font looks like TV static, which makes complete sense, yet it very difficult for someone to read. I've never read a collection like this before, but I want more. It was so interesting seeing an idol I have loved my whole life being someone I wouldn't enjoy at all today. Also plays on Selena's song lyrics being woven into the main character's life as she is disintegrating. It was a look into something I've thought of before (being able to bring a dead loved one back, that being an idol) being a terrible idea, especially when you have to give parts of yourself in order to do so. That lawsuit and trauma isn't worth it. ⭐️3.5 STARS⭐️

  8. 4 out of 5

    Reader

    I just spent the past few hours reading this book, so I'm still not fully sure how I feel about it, but I think for the most part I'm disappointed. I've read a few "novels in verse" in the past — the Crank series by Ellen Hopkins is what comes to mind the quickest — so I'm not completely new to the genre. It can be hard to pull off, but this book failed completely at being a novel. It's like there wasn't even an attempt. This is not a novel. Period. This is a poetry collection that was labeled a I just spent the past few hours reading this book, so I'm still not fully sure how I feel about it, but I think for the most part I'm disappointed. I've read a few "novels in verse" in the past — the Crank series by Ellen Hopkins is what comes to mind the quickest — so I'm not completely new to the genre. It can be hard to pull off, but this book failed completely at being a novel. It's like there wasn't even an attempt. This is not a novel. Period. This is a poetry collection that was labeled a "novel in verse" to make it more marketable. Which is annoying as hell. It's like ordering a pizza and being served a burger. I think the mis-categorization will ultimately be a detriment, because I'm sure that many people will end up being disappointed by it even if they think the writing isn't necessarily bad. This book primarily explores the author's need to be seen and celebrated by the world, and to feel desired by and find true connection with her lovers. There are a couple of poems where she touches on the topic of Latinidad, but contrary to what the marketing would have you believe, this subject is barely present throughout. For me, the writing was the strongest in the moments where the book clearly forgot it was supposed to be about Selena and where the focus was on things like loneliness, wanting to be validated as important, wanting to be seen as interesting, and wanting to be desired by people we desire. I relate to all of these things, and as someone who struggles with vulnerability, I applaud the author for being brave enough to write openly about them. The problem was that every time I'd finish one of these poems, I would ask myself, "Wait, what's this book supposed to be again?" As for the sections that deal with the "plot," (which are very short in comparison to the non-plot sections, which is why the "novel" part feels so half-assed) the action was often confusing and hard to follow. There are still things I feel I missed and which completely flew over my head. For example (SPOILER ALERT), the first time I read the poem about the dead celebrity prom, I thought it was part of Selena's tour and that the fans were supposed to show up in costumes of dead celebrities. I didn't realize until later that apparently a bunch of other celebrities in addition to Selena had been brought back to life (I must have missed the part where this happened) and the audience was there to watch all their dead faves back in action. I thought the part with Michael Jackson dancing disappointingly had been a fan doing a bad impersonation, but no, apparently that was actually MJ back and dancing as a zombie. A lot of crucial things happened in a way that was very hazily written and not easy to understand. Finally, I think the handling of a lot of the real people in this book was unethical. It's pretty gross to me that the author has the self-awareness to realize that it's dehumanizing to create fictional versions of real people and project our issues onto them and to use these reconstructions to fit narratives we find convenient — and then proceed to do just that with a whole bunch of people. It's like people who think that they can continue to be assholes as long as they let everybody know that they're aware of the fact they're assholes. Like, no. The whole point of you acknowledging that you're an asshole is so that you don't do it anymore. Melissa Lozada-Oliva wrote this book to supposedly shine a light on the toxicity of celebrity worship...and the way she did it was by exploiting a dead woman who can't speak for herself and an incarcerated woman who can't get on Twitter and say, "I don't know what fuck this chick is talking about, but uh, no, that's not my story and I would never say that shit." She also threw in a perverted character with the name Junot who happens to be 52, coincidentally the same age as Junot Díaz. A lot of the characters in the book share the same names with the people in the acknowledgements section, so I hope that the author at least had the sense to use a fictional name for the Courtney in a line that went, "Nobody likes Courtney but..." A lot of writers have this idea that they can do whatever they want in the name of "art," including using very real people that they've fictionalized without permission in their books. Unless you're a narcissist who is grateful for any kind of attention, you're probably not going to appreciate someone writing a fictionalized version of you using your real name, putting words in your mouth that you'd probably never say, and doing things you'd never do. Most people would feel violated and with good reason. I knew that this book was already treading on dangerous territory just from the summary, but I thought maybe the author would pull it off somehow by not taking too much liberty with what she had Selena say and do. That was not the case. Apparently she (the writer) thinks it's weird that society has a made up idea of Selena being an angel because she never got to age past 23 and make mistakes, but you're not really any better for creating your own fantasy of a Selena making mistakes you think would be funny or relatable or likely if she were still alive. She's not a doll for you to play with. The same way we don't know if she would've continued to be as sweet as people perceived her to have been is the same way we don't know if she would've eventually stopped being a pro-lifer. So you imagining her never progressing past her 23-year-old beliefs and liking "problematic" tweets isn't any different than people who think she would've always been the angel that exists in their imaginations. None of you know what would've happened with this woman, so why is it so hard to just let her rest in peace already and stop trying to make up your own Selena mythologies to profit off of? I think the treatment of Yolanda Saldivar was probably worse, though. I wonder if Lozada-Oliva made any attempt at all to communicate with Saldivar prior to writing this. Did she get the woman's blessing? In a Teen Vogue article, the author of this book claimed to not believe in prisons, which I find kind of disingenuous, given the treatment of Saldivar in this book. Somehow I don't believe that Lozada-Oliva would have felt so free to play around with Saldivar as much as she did if Saldivar weren't stripped of her freedom to respond while she rots behind bars. And unless Lozada-Oliva attempted to connect with Saldivar throughout the process of writing this, I'm not going to buy any explanation of this being the author's way of giving Saldivar a voice. Given the fact that the Saldivar in this book goes to a lesbian bar and implies that she is a lesbian in at least one poem where she is the speaker, I somehow doubt that the real Saldivar would've given this characterization the green light since she has repeatedly denied that she is a lesbian. Lozada-Oliva also has Saldivar literally attempt to kill the Melissa character, so... yeah. In the end, there were a few great gems of lines scattered among a lot of distractions and disappointments.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jordan | jord_reads_books

    oh my, wowza! Dreaming of You is sparkling and haunting all at once! The concept is one that I would never think of in a million years, ressurrenting Tejano pop star Selena Quintanilla. Full of pop culture references and a mastery of language, this was a wild ride that I couln't put down! oh my, wowza! Dreaming of You is sparkling and haunting all at once! The concept is one that I would never think of in a million years, ressurrenting Tejano pop star Selena Quintanilla. Full of pop culture references and a mastery of language, this was a wild ride that I couln't put down!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca McGee

    This was a wild ride. At times I was confused, at other times I found myself cackling like a mad woman. These poems weren’t your typical lyrical verses, dripping with agony or swirling with beauty. These were raw, more visceral. It was difficult to keep up at times, sometimes I found myself lost and trying to figure what the hell was going on. The author took us on such a strange and unforgettable journey following a young woman who resurrected the incomparable Selena. I would highly recommend f This was a wild ride. At times I was confused, at other times I found myself cackling like a mad woman. These poems weren’t your typical lyrical verses, dripping with agony or swirling with beauty. These were raw, more visceral. It was difficult to keep up at times, sometimes I found myself lost and trying to figure what the hell was going on. The author took us on such a strange and unforgettable journey following a young woman who resurrected the incomparable Selena. I would highly recommend for fans of the late songstress, poetry and lovers of the unconventional. I received this ARC via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Callie Gonsalves

    this was very strange! I liked it a l0t! weirdly gave off subtle 'beloved' vibes, as far as someone coming back from the dead and stealing your life. the poetry was gorgeous. this was very strange! I liked it a l0t! weirdly gave off subtle 'beloved' vibes, as far as someone coming back from the dead and stealing your life. the poetry was gorgeous.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia

    What a freaky and sensational book! Thanks to the publisher for a digital review copy

  13. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Arizpe Strobel

    I found an ARC of this on the table at work and felt like, as the only chicana at my large library, this had to have been some sort of divine placement. Ok maybe not that dramatic but I did feel like it ended up in my hands for a good reason! Through some enchanting prose and relatable pop culture references, as well as a healthy dose of wild absurdity, we’re taken by the hand on a unique exploration and self-reflection journey; the story addresses such topics as Latin American identity (Latinid I found an ARC of this on the table at work and felt like, as the only chicana at my large library, this had to have been some sort of divine placement. Ok maybe not that dramatic but I did feel like it ended up in my hands for a good reason! Through some enchanting prose and relatable pop culture references, as well as a healthy dose of wild absurdity, we’re taken by the hand on a unique exploration and self-reflection journey; the story addresses such topics as Latin American identity (Latinidad), queerness, belonging, fame, femininity, and how we tend to (sometimes unhealthily) gravitate towards celebrities and pop icons to patch our very human loneliness. This is going to be a great addition to your Halloween/creepy/supernatural bookshelf as well as your year-round poetry collection :-)

  14. 5 out of 5

    Princess

    I don't think I have the right words for how much I love this collection. It is very easy to get confused at the beginning, especially if you make the same mistake as I did and focus too much on the narrative of the MC bringing Selena back to life. Though it is the central theme in which most of the pieces revolve, what really made the greatest impact to me is how her words made me feel. This is definitely the most "freaky" poem collection I have ever read this year. I love how it pushes the bou I don't think I have the right words for how much I love this collection. It is very easy to get confused at the beginning, especially if you make the same mistake as I did and focus too much on the narrative of the MC bringing Selena back to life. Though it is the central theme in which most of the pieces revolve, what really made the greatest impact to me is how her words made me feel. This is definitely the most "freaky" poem collection I have ever read this year. I love how it pushes the boundaries of reality and magical realism while discussing feminism, coming of age, sexuality, life and death. Absolutely gorgeous. I still have so much to unpack but will probably do so on my blog later. Big thanks to NetGalley and Astra Publishing House for the eARC.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Summer

    weird as fuck and so fun and parts of it made me cry :) what more could you want!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ed Kazyanskaya

    I love versified novels, though this read more as a collection of related poems that vary in quality, including a few spectacular ones. I just wouldn't say it worked as a coherent whole. I love versified novels, though this read more as a collection of related poems that vary in quality, including a few spectacular ones. I just wouldn't say it worked as a coherent whole.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Adri

    3.5 Stars CWs: some mentions of sex acts; death and mentions of blood; references of animal death, gun violence, and suicide ideation. Melissa Lozada-Oliva is a poet first and foremost, and think that attention to lyricism and word choice is extremely prevalent in this debut verse-novel. That said, Dreaming of You is not your typical verse-novel where the story is highly narrative and then broken up into easily-digestible lines and chapters. There's a risk sometimes that verse-novels can come 3.5 Stars CWs: some mentions of sex acts; death and mentions of blood; references of animal death, gun violence, and suicide ideation. Melissa Lozada-Oliva is a poet first and foremost, and think that attention to lyricism and word choice is extremely prevalent in this debut verse-novel. That said, Dreaming of You is not your typical verse-novel where the story is highly narrative and then broken up into easily-digestible lines and chapters. There's a risk sometimes that verse-novels can come off as purple prose that's just been divided into lines. But Dreaming of You is non-linear, and erratic, and emotionally confrontational in a way that forces the reader to reckon with the fact that this is undeniably honest-to-god poetry on the page. Let me zoom out a little bit and say that this is not the book to read if you don’t know anything about Selena. If this book is your first introduction to Selena—as a singer, as a person—then you’ve made mistake. This novel isn't focused on explaining her life, her career, her music, or her legacy. It just sort of assumes you know that as a starting point. I feel like this book is really *for* Latine readers in a very specific ways that non-Latine folks will never understand, because there’s so much collective trauma and also collective joy that we, as a community, have towards Selena, and I think that’s really what the story’s trying to unpack. With that said, where the verse and where the commentary on Selena really excels is in how the poetry does such a great job of creating space for the reader to project their own thoughts, and feelings, and experiences. Again, the relationship that Latine communities—especially Chicane communities—have with Selena's music is (in some ways) universal, and I think the story allows the reader to tap into their own relationship with Selena while still following the unique narrative of the book. I think the idea of resurrection is also really compelling, because it speaks to how we as consumers are basically dragging Selena back from the dead with every new compilation album, TV adaptation, or documentary so that her artistry—and her trauma—can give meaning and purpose to our own lives. The potential downside of this novel is that the poetry doesn't always feel connected. I think it would be fair to say that there are times when this feels more like a poetry collection rather than a cohesive story, which could leave some readers feeling stranded or confused. But depending on how you approach this verse-novel, that could also potentially be an upside. I also wasn't sure how much liberty the author was taking with the characterization of historical characters (like Selena herself and Yolanda), so I think that's also something worth reflecting on. With all of that in mind, I still found this verse-novel to be moving, powerful, and deeply cathartic in ways that I can't quiet put into words. But I'm very glad that I got a chance to read it and share space with this story.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Espoñegina Esquarepantína

    man, this is not the rating i expected to give this book. i kid you not, i had been looking forward to reading this for at least 6 months. i'm familiar with melissa's poetry and i like most of what i've read/seen on youtube. i also follow her on twitter and find her to be witty and insightful. i'm also a mexican-american chick from california who can't speak spanish so needless to say i'm very aware of who selena quintanilla is and i'm not new to the cult of personality surrounding her to this d man, this is not the rating i expected to give this book. i kid you not, i had been looking forward to reading this for at least 6 months. i'm familiar with melissa's poetry and i like most of what i've read/seen on youtube. i also follow her on twitter and find her to be witty and insightful. i'm also a mexican-american chick from california who can't speak spanish so needless to say i'm very aware of who selena quintanilla is and i'm not new to the cult of personality surrounding her to this day. when i first saw the announcement for this book and read the summary, i literally thought the universe was responding to a very specific request i had which was: can we please talk about all the weirdos who are obsessed with selena but who truthfully don't see her as anything other than a generic prototype of what they think they're supposed to be as latinas? and who are actually talking about themselves whenever they talk about selena? how most of the time she's serving as a blank canvas for all these people to paint their own issues and personalities on? how, despite all the praise and obsession, nobody seems to respect her as a real human being that existed once upon a time? one of the blurbs for this book as well as the summary made it sound like all of that was exactly what this book would be tackling. having followed melissa on social media, i had seen her make jokes on multiple occasions where she would say something deluded and narcissistic but with self-awareness showing that she knew she'd just said something deluded and narcissistic. she's also mentioned selena in posts as well. so i thought this book was going to be an examination of how she partakes in the weird selena phenomenon (people who are really talking about themselves when they talk about selena) i mentioned. i felt confident that she had the discernment and understanding necessary to be able to pull it off. sadly, she totally dropped the ball. there are several instances in this book where the main "character" (who is really just the author) directly discusses the fact that she saw parts of herself in selena, as well as things that only existed within selena but that melissa wished could also exist within herself. so basically selena was this idol she had a few things in common with and who she eventually wished to have more things in common with. these things that she wished she would eventually have in common with selena, however, were just fantasies in melissa's mind. qualities that she believed selena must possess but which she probably didn't possess, because melissa never met selena and could have no way of knowing. selena was a vessel perfectly representing the identity of a beautiful, charismatic, talented latina who was embraced by her community despite not speaking spanish all that well and not being born in mexico. everything else about her as a human being disappeared in melissa's mind. at some point, melissa (in the real world, not in the book) apparently became aware of how one-dimensional her perception of selena was and that she probably needed some other way to figure out her relationship with her cultural roots. this book was seemingly an attempt to tackle the subject. the problem is that the way she did it traveled everywhere except to the point. to make it worse, i feel that she ended up perpetuating the issue of not letting selena exist as anything other than a weird fabrication of her (melissa's) imagination. i guess i expected selena to be brought back from the dead and for the protagonist to realize that she's nothing like the idea she'd had in her mind. i think author!melissa attempted to show this by having selena do a bunch of stuff that doesn't jibe with most people's perception of selena, like going to a party and maybe hooking up with a not-single guy in a closet or giving diva answers during interviews. but??? by doing all this??? you're just doing the same thing you were doing before but with a more negative spin??? i thought the whole point of including selena in this book and bringing her back to life was to tackle the weirdness of how the people we glorify most likely never existed in the way we imagine them. how they were people with autonomy at one point and how our idolization takes it away because we're recreating them into a false version that never existed. i get the feeling that melissa felt like she was giving selena her humanity back by making her do things that a lot of people would side-eye but that's not really what you're doing. these flaws you're giving her are still flaws that you're fabricating. it's the same thing as glorifying her. so that's why i now think that the author and i were never on the same page. i think it's weird that people treat selena like she's a sim that they can customize into whatever they want her to be. apparently this is not the issue melissa had. the issue melissa had was that people weren't customizing selena with her same preferences. to be fair, i think that even if she had been on the same wavelength as me, it would've still be extremely hard to pull off. i guess the only way i think it could've been done well is if the reincarnated selena had been written as pretty much only going with the same information of her that we have. since she would've been a semi-ghost, the lack of ability to provide much additional information could've been explained in some paranormal way (maybe she couldn't audibly speak? idk make something up) the same way that her appearance was described pixelated. how could it have been made clear that melissa's ideas of selena were all a fantasy if selena couldn't communicate much? would've been challenging for sure but certainly doable. one thing i kept waiting to happen was a conversation between melissa and selena where melissa told selena all about everything she admired about her. i thought for sure there would be a moment like this where reincarnated selena would listen to the way she was posthumously idolized and where she would've responded in a way to suggest that she felt like these people didn't know her. i don't think the conversation should've had dialogue explicitly spelling all this out for melissa in some after school special kind of way, because that would've been hella corny, but at least something to show that selena felt like the glorification was inaccurate. or maybe there could've been a moment where just selena's physical presence being back made the melissa character sober up and realize that selena wasn't just this symbol of latinidad and that she probably had a whole bunch of doubts, flaws, and characteristics that the public probably never got to know? melissa didn't have to actually fabricate these doubts, flaws and unknown characteristics in order to get the idea across. yes it would've been hard, but i think it could've been successfully done. all of this could've been way less complicated if she'd just created her own fictional singer who died at a young age, but i can understand why she felt drawn to writing about a real person who she and millions of other people have been influenced by. unfortunately when you write about a real person, especially one who's dead, you run into issues that you don't have to worry about when you're writing about someone you completely made up. when they're real, you have to respect that person's humanity and the feelings of their living loved ones. this review is already long enough so i'm not going to continue. i just hope that someday someone really delves into the stuff i was hoping this book would explore.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rhys

    ARC received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This is a very weird title and that isn't necessarily a bad thing; the strangeness is part of what I enjoyed. Dreaming of You is a novel told in verse about a woman resurrecting Selena and the strangeness and problems that follow. I loved the eerie-ness of this, the strange off-ness that comes with an undead celebrity running around and starting another tour and I think Lozada-Oliva's conversational and almost rambling style lends well ARC received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This is a very weird title and that isn't necessarily a bad thing; the strangeness is part of what I enjoyed. Dreaming of You is a novel told in verse about a woman resurrecting Selena and the strangeness and problems that follow. I loved the eerie-ness of this, the strange off-ness that comes with an undead celebrity running around and starting another tour and I think Lozada-Oliva's conversational and almost rambling style lends well to these confessional-style poems. Although this is a very surreal story, the themes are very much grounded in reality - loneliness, pop culture icon worship, death, womanhood, identity , etc. Despite the premise, this story isn't *really* about Selena as much as she's used as a vehicle for exploring these topics. Despite the conversational style, I did get lost a few times - a few times I was wondering, is this Melissa's perspective or Yolanda's? Is this happening now or is this hypothetical? Sometimes I didn't mind so much, it's surreal and bordering reality and fantasy anyway and I was focused on the feelings more than anything but other times I felt too lost to get into it. There were some individual poems I did *really* like on their own and I think I would have almost liked a thematically linked but not a novel in verse collection from this author? I definitely want to try more of her work even if this didn't quite work for me, but I wouldn't necessarily not recommend this either. It's a shorter work and if you're in the mood for something strange exploring loneliness and pop culture and identity, I'd say give it a try.

  20. 5 out of 5

    aliyyah

    4 stars This was such a weird book and lately I've been in a weird mood so I ended up vibing with this one a lot. Dreaming of You is about a woman who ends up resurrecting Selena Quintanilla back from the dead. I really enjoyed this story. This was the first book written in verse that I've ever read and I liked it very much! The concept was extremely unique. A lot of the themes of this novel also really spoke to me. Melissa struggles a lot with loneliness and I've been grappling with similar feeli 4 stars This was such a weird book and lately I've been in a weird mood so I ended up vibing with this one a lot. Dreaming of You is about a woman who ends up resurrecting Selena Quintanilla back from the dead. I really enjoyed this story. This was the first book written in verse that I've ever read and I liked it very much! The concept was extremely unique. A lot of the themes of this novel also really spoke to me. Melissa struggles a lot with loneliness and I've been grappling with similar feelings these days as well. There were times when I found myself snorting and moments where certain lines of prose hit me a little too hard. Honestly, this book was actually exactly what I needed to read today. It was wild and different and aching and I loved it more than I thought I would. Thank you to to Netgalley and the publishers for providing this arc in exchange for an honest review!

  21. 4 out of 5

    L

    I really like Melissa (Say More die hard lover) and I loved Peluda but sadly I didn’t love this. It was not a novel in verse as many have pointed out in other reviews and frankly just didn’t get the humor sometimes nor many of the poems (but that’s a me problem). The whole Selena narrative felt like an excuse to write poems when you could have just written a collection of poetry. I do not agree with some people’s reviews about Melissa’s lacking comprehension about Latinidad. I revisit Peluda on I really like Melissa (Say More die hard lover) and I loved Peluda but sadly I didn’t love this. It was not a novel in verse as many have pointed out in other reviews and frankly just didn’t get the humor sometimes nor many of the poems (but that’s a me problem). The whole Selena narrative felt like an excuse to write poems when you could have just written a collection of poetry. I do not agree with some people’s reviews about Melissa’s lacking comprehension about Latinidad. I revisit Peluda on occasions because I’m lost within my Colombian culture, I’m lost within the country I came from and I don’t feel like I belong, and I don’t know how to make myself belong. Peluda makes me feel less alone on that one. If you’re looking for a writer that explains proudly what having a Guatemalan or Colombian identity means, this is not it. If you’re looking for a writer that expresses this Otherness she feels in her bones AND the devotion she has to these complicated identities nonetheless, you’ve found your gal.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lyd Havens

    Strange, absurd, wholly original, moving, thoughtful. This is a really intriguing examination of hero worship, celebrity culture and its connection to capitalism, identity, and grief. There were parts in the beginning/middle that were a little too strange for me, but the further the book progressed the more captivating it became. And the CONTRAPUNTALS!!!! (I wasn't sure whether to give this 3.5 or 4 stars, but I've never read a book like this and doubt I ever will again, so, it's gotta be 4 star Strange, absurd, wholly original, moving, thoughtful. This is a really intriguing examination of hero worship, celebrity culture and its connection to capitalism, identity, and grief. There were parts in the beginning/middle that were a little too strange for me, but the further the book progressed the more captivating it became. And the CONTRAPUNTALS!!!! (I wasn't sure whether to give this 3.5 or 4 stars, but I've never read a book like this and doubt I ever will again, so, it's gotta be 4 stars.)

  23. 4 out of 5

    Haja

    This was a piece of work! From Lozada-Oliva’s understated language and smart pop culture references to the subject matter, this was a lovely novel in verse. Touching on Latinidad, celebrity, and the always-dying superstar, Lozada-Oliva pushed me to think about death, how I consume celebrity, and the lengths I’d go to in service of an obsession. Again, really wonderful poetry! Thank you NetGalley for the ARC!

  24. 5 out of 5

    sofia

    ARC received in exchange for an honest review wow. just wow. I practically inhaled this book. the writing, the story, the themes and messages. gah! I am so obsessed! What I like most about Melissa Lozada-Oliva's poetry is that it's unpretentious. The lyricism is brilliant, but it's not meant to confuse or gatekeep. Instead, it's designed to touch readers in a profound yet extremely accessible way. The story centres around Melissa, a Latinx poet who decides to bring latinx icon Selena back from the ARC received in exchange for an honest review wow. just wow. I practically inhaled this book. the writing, the story, the themes and messages. gah! I am so obsessed! What I like most about Melissa Lozada-Oliva's poetry is that it's unpretentious. The lyricism is brilliant, but it's not meant to confuse or gatekeep. Instead, it's designed to touch readers in a profound yet extremely accessible way. The story centres around Melissa, a Latinx poet who decides to bring latinx icon Selena back from the dead. As a fellow latinx millenial, I was familiar with Selena and what she means to many Latinx communities; however, I don't think this is necessary before going into the novel. Even if you know nothing about Selena and latinx culture, Lozada-Oliva's writing hooks you in and makes you understand. I will 10000% be picking up a physical copy when this comes out. This was iconic and I need it on my bookshelf.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Tali Sanchez

    Beautifully written and amazing themes incorporated! This was very enjoyable and intriguing. Following Latinx Melissa, grappling with loneliness and heartache, brings la reina del tejano Selena Quintanilla back from the dead. The descriptions and reference to Misery by Stephen King were everything! Loved how gruesome but yet moving the story was! Makes me really think what if Selena Quintanilla did come back from the dead? All the things she would have to catch up on, her family and music. Not o Beautifully written and amazing themes incorporated! This was very enjoyable and intriguing. Following Latinx Melissa, grappling with loneliness and heartache, brings la reina del tejano Selena Quintanilla back from the dead. The descriptions and reference to Misery by Stephen King were everything! Loved how gruesome but yet moving the story was! Makes me really think what if Selena Quintanilla did come back from the dead? All the things she would have to catch up on, her family and music. Not only it focuses on this celebrity but also grapples with the cost of being seen for your truest self. I don't read a lot of in verse books so this was definitely something different but can get used to!

  26. 4 out of 5

    bookswithsoph

    i requested this via netgalley in exchange for a honest review, firstly this cover is absolutely gorgeous! so many great versus ,when reading this i became confused, but i don’t know much about Selena (who was one of the biggest pop stars of the 90s), which could of been why. bringing back a celebrity from the dead, definitely made me want to pick this book up. the author has suck a way with their words, tackling feminism and colonialism, lyrical and a great queer book! had fun reading it.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    Para que me amargo la vida con algo que no entiendo. I decided to DNF at around the halfway mark. As much as I wanted to enjoy this one, I really couldn’t. Not to say anything was wrong with it or that the book was bad. The poetry just went over my head and I really couldn’t keep up with what was going on. Also, it was a little weird? And sometimes that works great for readers but I couldn’t do with it. On to the next! ✌🏼

  28. 4 out of 5

    Haja

    This was a piece of work! From Lozada-Oliva’s understated language and smart pop culture references to the subject matter, this was a lovely novel in verse. Touching on Latinidad, celebrity, and the always-dying superstar, Lozada-Oliva pushed me to think about death, how I consume celebrity, and the lengths I’d go to in service of an obsession. Again, really wonderful poetry!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Summer

    This was an original read. It’s a fantastical idea involving Selena Quintanilla being brought back to life. This book was wholly a surprise and incredibly personal. I knew from reading the description that I absolutely wanted to read it and I’m glad I did. Thank you to Astra House and NetGalley for providing me a copy to read. So greatly appreciated.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Brisa

    Thank you, Astra House, for an advanced digital copy of this book! This book was definitely weirder than I anticipated but it was also a lot of fun and felt very literary. This book doesn't totally fit into any box, or at least it's not quite like anything else I've read before. It wasn't quite a a novel, although there is some plot, with the story moving forward slowly. If you choose to read this, expect a poetry collection with snippets of Selena back from the dead throughout If you grew up lovi Thank you, Astra House, for an advanced digital copy of this book! This book was definitely weirder than I anticipated but it was also a lot of fun and felt very literary. This book doesn't totally fit into any box, or at least it's not quite like anything else I've read before. It wasn't quite a a novel, although there is some plot, with the story moving forward slowly. If you choose to read this, expect a poetry collection with snippets of Selena back from the dead throughout If you grew up loving Selena and hearing about her, you might appreciate this book and the references it makes to her outfits and memorable moments from her career. If you enjoy things that are lightly spooky and eccentric, then this will be up your alley. It was unusually eccentric and a pretty quick read.

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