How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents

A Novel

Book - 1991
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"Poignant . . . Powerful . . . Beautifully captures the threshold experience of the new immigrant, where the past is not yet a memory." --The New York Times Book Review

Acclaimed writer Julia Alvarez's beloved first novel gives voice to four sisters as they grow up in two cultures. 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 brutal dictator Rafael Trujillo is discovered. They arrive in New York City in 1960 to a life far removed from their existence in the Caribbean. In the wondrous but not always welcoming U.S.A., their parents try to hold on to their old ways as the girls try find new lives: by straightening their hair and wearing American fashions, and by forgetting their Spanish. For them, it is at once liberating and excruciating to be caught between the old world and the new. Here they tell their stories about being at home--and not at home--in America.

Julia Alvarez's new novel, Afterlife , is available now.

Publisher: Chapel Hill, North Carolina :, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill,, ©1991.
ISBN: 9781565129757
Branch Call Number: FICTION ALV
Characteristics: 311 pages : 21 cm


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Nov 13, 2020

Alvarez's first novel from 1991 is a slow burn that works backward from an upper class Dominican family's life in exile in New York City, eventually arriving at the period in the 1960s where a desperate escape from an authoritarian government launches the story. This won't appeal to readers who want more action in their plot, but for those more interested in character development, the growth of the novel's three sisters throughout their bicultural lives will be rewarding.

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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