How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents

Book - 1991
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"Simply wonderful." -- Los Angeles Times

Acclaimed writer Julia Alvarez's brilliant and buoyant and beloved first novel gives voice to four sisters recounting their adventures growing up in two cultures. Selected as a Notable Book by both the New York Times and the American Library Association, it won the PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Award for books with a multicultural perspective and was chosen by New York librarians as one of twenty-one classics for the twenty-first century. Ms. Alvarez was recently honored with the 2013 National Medal of Arts for her extraordinary storytelling.

In this debut novel, the García sisters--Carla, Sandra, Yolanda, and Sofía--and their family must flee their home in the Dominican Republic after their father's role in an attempt to overthrow a tyrannical dictator is discovered. They arrive in New York City in 1960 to a life far removed from their existence in the Caribbean. In the wild and wondrous and not always welcoming U.S.A., their parents try to hold on to their old ways, but the girls try find new lives: by forgetting their Spanish, by straightening their hair and wearing fringed bell bottoms. For them, it is at once liberating and excruciating to be caught between the old world and the new. How the García Girls Lost Their Accents sets the sisters free to tell their most intimate stories about how they came to be at home--and not at home--in America.

"A joy to read." -- The Cleveland Plain Dealer
Publisher: Chapel Hill, N.C. : Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 1991
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780945575573
Characteristics: 290 p. : 1 ill. ; 19 cm


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Aug 23, 2016

This reads more like a connected set of short stories than a novel. The timeline moves backwards, with various looks at the four Garcia girl throughout their lives. They moved to America when they were very young after their father was involved in a failed coup d’etat in the Dominican Republic. My main complaint about the book is how disjointed it feels. Since the story moves backwards, I found myself wondering if I had missed some details and whether or not I should recognize the secondary characters’ names from earlier chapters. At the very beginning of the book Yolanda decides to move back to the Dominican Republic. I kept expecting an explanation that never came. There are many good parts and good characterizations, but it didn’t seem to come together as a whole.

Feb 17, 2016

This book is about 4 sisters and their parents who are forced to flee the Dominican Republic because their lives are in danger. It is about their immigration experience. It is told from different points of view in short little vignettes which I really appreciated. I thought it moved you through the book quickly.

Feb 14, 2014

I've been reading Dominican-American writer Julia Alvarez's "In the Time of the Butterflies" with my high school English class and wanted to read something else by her. This is her first novel and it helps to have read "Butterflies" first as it will give you a political/historical context for why the family left the D.R. in the 60s. Like "Butterflies," it's centered around the family and takes place over many years (the chronology works backwards in this novel). It combines two classic plots, the coming of age novel and the immigrant novel in a vibrant, observant manner. You may also like Diaz's "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao."


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