Uprooted From Their Family Home In The Dominican Republic, The Four Garcia Sisters Carla, Sandra, Yolanda, And Sofia Arrive In New York City In To Find A Life Far Different From The Genteel Existence Of Maids, Manicures, And Extended Family They Left Behind What They Have Lost And What They Find Is Revealed In The Fifteen Interconnected Stories That Make Up This Exquisite Novel From One Of The Premier Novelists Of Our Time First off, the reverse chronological thing just threw me I had a hard time understanding who was crazy when and when they were crazy, if it was really crazy or just stream of consciousness writing And as with a lot of minority authors, I don t see why they have to focus on only negative experiences I m sure the Garcia girls had a lot of good experiences which shaped them, but Alvarez chose only to focus on the negative There was so much sexual content in this book, I d almost feel uncomfortable classifying it as a young adult novel which is what our library classifies it as The book is set in the 60 s and 70 s, so there was rampant sex and drug use throughout the book Every other story was about someone s first time having sex or someone being molested it got very old after a while.One thing I did appreciate was how distinct each of the girls voices were Even without being told who was talking, I probably could have picked out which daughter was telling which story Even Chucha and Laura were distinct from all the rest And Alvarez did a wonderful job of evolving the girls voices as they grew older There was no doubt when a daughter was 10 as compared to when she was 25 I don t think I would recommend this book to anyone but it wasn t a horrible read. How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accent is Julia Alvarez fictionalized account of her childhood when she moved with her family from the Dominican Republic to New York following the 1960 Trujillo revolution Her story is told in alternating chapters through the eyes of the four Garcia sisters Carla, Sandi, Yolanda, and Sofia Fifi and follows them in reverse chronological order from adulthood to early childhood Alvarez displays the Garcia de la Torre clan s love for the island on their path to becoming Americans I read this as a reread for a comfort read for myself as Alvarez is one of my favorite authors, and I rate the Garcia s story 4.5 stars I fell in love with Julia Alvarez writing when I was in high school and college studying Latin American culture Alvarez along with Allende and Cristina Garcia helped forge my love for Latin America that has shaped my entire life Her writing is a mix of true stories, humor, and the angst the immigrant experience that has me reaching for her books every few years The Garcia Girls is a fictionalized autobiography with Yolanda, the third daughter, being Alvarez persona Like Alvarez, Yolanda is a writer who begged for her own typewriter, studied literature in boarding school and college, and eventually became a literature professor at a myriad of colleges Yet, like her true counterpart, Yolanda still yearns for the island A first generation immigrant, she straddles two countries This is the life that the sisters faced in New York while also dealing with parents who still clung to old world ideals Alvarez paints a picture of a coming of age that was stressful for the girls as they had the added element of parents not used to the new culture which they were living in This leads to memorable dialogues among the characters, especially the two parents One of my favorite sections of the narrative is when an adult Yolanda returns to the Dominican Republic and asks her aunts where she can find guavas Her aunts and cousins take guavas and other tropical fruits for granted living on an island Yet, it is these little things that the Garcias miss the most having grown up in New York Guavas, native flora and fauna, a compound of extended family Yolanda eventually goes on an adventure to procure guavas, showing her independent American spirit All the girls attend boarding school to learn to be Americans, and wow their cousins with the new found culture that they obtain Yet this dual culture comes at a price when the girls come to visit the Dominican Republic, they always are excited to return to the States Other than poetry anthologies, this was Alvarez first full length novel It is evident as her writing is not as polished as with some of her later writing I have read her later works as well and her voice is better established in her later writings Once she gained tenure in college her books take on a relaxed tone and in two of her later nonfiction accounts I found myself laughing throughout the text Yet, the Garcia Girls is what put Alvarez on the Latin American writing stage It is a poignant work that addresses the Latin American immigrant experience, that I highly recommend to all. I was so intrigued by the title that I kept it on my to read list for years, but when I finally settled down to read it, I didn t fall immediately in love I felt the voices of the various sisters were too similar, and all of them seemed quite shallow However, it is not without its merits The book moves backwards in time, and the younger the girls got, the interested I became in their characters I especially liked reading about their lives before they moved to the States My favorite part was the description of their family as a shared community We lived in each other s houses, staying for meals at whatever table we were closest to when dinner was put out, heading home only to take our baths and go to bed Favorite Quotes about childhood the wonder of the world seizing me with such fury at times that I had to touch forbidden china cups or throttle a little cousin or pet a dog s head so strenuously that he looked as if he were coming out of the birth canal The Catholic sisters at Our Lady of Perpetual Sorrows Convent School were teaching me to sort the world like laundry into what was wrong and right three black cars idling in the driveway like great, nervous, snorting horses. I enjoyed this quite a lot, but I really think it should have been marketed as a book of short stories Instead it s a book of short stories that is called a novel, yet has none of the cohesion or overarching plot required of a novel, though the stories are all about the same four women It s also very obvious that many of these stories were originally published separately, as there s a lot of repeated background info, introducing characters as if we ve never met them before when it s the fifth time they ve appeared, etc There are also a handful of stories in first person, when the majority are third person, and that kind of makes it feel patched together, too There was also one very bizarre story where it was first person, except all the girls were named in third person So even though the narrator was saying I and we and us in reference to the four sisters, it sounded like there was a mysterious fifth sister doing the narration because she attributed actions and dialogue to all four in third person Ihave never seen a story written like that before and hope never to do so again It was disconcerting and a very strange choice return return Anyway, I really did enjoy the individual stories quite a lot, and found the book hard to put down I just am kind of annoyed with it for saying it s a novel when it s not, as that made me keep expecting things that it never delivered.
Julia lvarez was born in New York City Her parents moved back to the Dominican Republic when lvarez was 3 months old and she was raised there until she was 10, when the family moved back to NYC She is currently writer in residence at Middlebury College and the owner of a coffee farm named Alta Gracia, near Jarabacoa in the mountains of the Dominican Republic The farm hosts a school to teach l
- 304 pages
- How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents
- Julia Alvarez
- 23 May 2017 Julia Alvarez