‘Dreaming of you.’ Novel brings dead pop star back to life – Kentucky Kernel
Let’s get one thing straight: people die all the time, but the dead we have the most left over are those of our loved ones, friends and idols. This is especially true if their death comes out of nowhere and completely surprises us. The death of singer and pop star Selena Quintanilla-Pérez was something like this and is famous among the Mexican-American community and fans who were obsessed with her, her music and her murder.
On March 31, 1995, Quintanilla-Pérez, better known as Selena, was murdered by her best friend and president of her fan club,Yolanda Saldivar, in Corpus Christi, Texas. At the time, Selena was 24 and less than a month away from her next birthday.
This murder sent shock waves around the world and it is still talked about today. An interesting way to look at Selena’s death is through the eyes of Melissa Lozada-Oliva in her latest book, “Dreaming of You: A Novel in Verse.”
The book follows the author as she decides one day to bring Selena back to life. It’s both a raw and morbid read that takes its audience on a whirlwind of emotions with each character introduced.
It also examines the complexities of both wanting to respect deceased celebrities and leave them alone and wanting to immortalize them in art to keep their souls alive.
On November 2, Lozada-Oliva sat down with Alison Stewart, host of the podcast “All,and described one of the reasons why Selena is so talked about to this day. Olivia: “I think with Selena, she was this brilliant, beautiful, brilliant, incredibly talented star, and because she died so young, she can always stay that way.”
This idea of Selena’s image being preserved as young and bright appears throughout the book. That’s one of the reasons I was intrigued in the first place, besides following Lozada-Oliva’s work since 2016.
Selena was able to live and die with an almost perfect image. She didn’t live long enough to embarrass herself, get hate for being controversial, or, as Lozada-Oliva likes to joke in her novel, become a Trump supporter. For the Mexican-American community, she died like an angel, a dream girl whose aspirations will never be realized. And because of what she could have become, she also became a fantasy.
Throughout the novel we see fantasies and illusions about what his life was like in the past and what it could have been. Another depiction of Selena’s life was released on Netflix in December. I’m always fascinated by how humans tend to bring the dead back to life. Whether it’s in films such as “Lady Diana”, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” or “Get on Up”, we always try to remind the masses that these people existed.
They are like muses. We take their lives and turn them into our own creations. And that’s exactly what Lozada-Oliva does with Selena in “Dreaming of you.”
Through the verses, she allows her readers to see the undead Selena, a perfectly preserved version of the star. We see through Lozada-Oliva’s eyes how his character’s life unfolds and how he portrays Selena’s death. Lozada-Oliva does this with past dialogue from Selena’s interviews, references to her various songs, and exploration of her relationship with her killer, Yolanda Saldívar, before and after her death.
If you’re a fan of Selena Quintanilla-Pérez or a fan of true crime, poetry or verse, this novel is for you. Fair warning, no matter how blunt, or if you get to a certain part and feel personally attacked and shamefully connected to the main characters, believe me, it’s worth reading.