Customer Reviews for

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

Pretty good

This novel is about a family that flees from the Dominican Republic to the U.S. In the foreign nation, the family tries to cope with racism and assimilate into American culture. I think the author, Julia Alvarez did a great job describing through interesting anecdotes, ...
This novel is about a family that flees from the Dominican Republic to the U.S. In the foreign nation, the family tries to cope with racism and assimilate into American culture. I think the author, Julia Alvarez did a great job describing through interesting anecdotes, the difficulties that the immigrants faced, and how they gradually became Americans. I think she was able to talk about incidents she put in her book so realistically because she immigragted to America in the 1960s from the Dominican Republic just like the characters in the book. Each chapter consists of one anecdote and some of them are very serious while others are humorous. This quality makes the book truly an enjoyable one to read. In a chapter entitled 'Snow' Alvarez talks about how a Dominican girl who just immigrated thought that white particles (snow) were from the explosion of a nuclear bomb. What happened seems very realistic because in the 1960s, there was still a threat of a nuclear bomb being dropped in the U.S. so students were being taught at school how to protect themselves. It shows how the Dominican girl was not completely an American yet even though she spoke English. I really liked this chapter because I had a similar experience. There were also serious parts in this book which I gained a lot from. In the chapter 'The Blood of the Conquistadores,' I learned about the political unrest in the Dominican Republic in the mid-1950s, which I previously had no knowledge about. It also helped me to understand why so many Dominicans immigrated to the U.S. during that time. The organization of the book was effective. It is written in reverse chronological order unlike most novels, which makes it unique. There was not much of a suspense because I already knew what happened when I read about the main characters anticipating an event. However, it was quite interesting to read what the characters wanted and expected after learning what actually happened. Reading about the event and then what happened before the event sometimes answered my questions as to why an event happened in such a manner. I also liked that the author wrote in different points of view. Since she wrote in the voices of the four girls, I felt much closer to the characters because it was as if the girls were talking to me. The different voices that Alvarez used for each of the four girls also added to their personalities. However, this novel has a couple weak points. It has so many characters that it is very hard to keep track of them all unless you pay really close attention. The author provides the readers with a lot of information on the characters, so for me it was hard to remember which of the Garcia girls did what. Also, the author calls Mr. Garcia several names including 'Papi' and 'Carlos' so it is easy to get confused and think they are different people. Furthermore, before reading this book, I had no knowledge of Spanish, so I was very bewildered by the numerous Spanish phrases and titles (for people) that were used. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a book to read lightly because it doesn't contain difficult vocabulary and is fun to read. I think it would be more interesting for people who have had experiences in another culture as a foreigner because they would be able to relate at least a little bit to the main characters. I wouldn't suggest reading this book to find out how immigrants' lives were in general in th 1960s when they moved to America because it only provides the experiences of a single wealthy family that came from the Dominican Republic.

posted by Anonymous on May 16, 2005

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Most Helpful Critical Review

7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents

I recently read the book "How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents" by Julia Alvarez. This book involved a family whose father, Papi, was part of the rebellion against the dictator of the Dominican Republic during the 1950's. When the father's actions put the rest of t...
I recently read the book "How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents" by Julia Alvarez. This book involved a family whose father, Papi, was part of the rebellion against the dictator of the Dominican Republic during the 1950's. When the father's actions put the rest of the family in more and more danger, it becomes necessary for them to move away from their beloved home to the scandalous United States of America.
The Garcia family has always been very conservative and traditional. When they move to the United States the mother, Mami, struggles to keep the four girls under control. She will find this to be an even larger challenge than expected when the young girls' peers are all more educated in sex and the body than she could ever have dreamed. As the story unwinds, we find these four girls, Carla, Sandra, Yolanda, and Sofia trying to break from their parents' old-fashioned ways.
The narrator rotates from Mami, Papi, Carla, Sandra, Yolanda, and Sofia as each tells us about a focal point in their adolescence and first experiences as Americans. Slowly, we learn more about each character as the stories are told, starting from their adulthood and as each page turns, moving back to their childhood in the Dominican.
"How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents" was a very confusing book that I did not enjoy. The switching of narrators with no warning or way of knowing who was talking until the chapter was half over left me flipping pages back and forth and re-reading things as I attempted to understand what was going on. For example the book begins with the narration of an author who is not actually experiencing the events she describes: "The old aunts lounge in the white wicker armchairs, flipping open their fans, snapping them shut" (Alvarez 3). The author continues to narrate as if looking in on her characters, until the fifth chapter where we suddenly switch randomly to Yolanda: "For a brief few giddy years, I was the one with the reputation among my sisters of being the wild one" (Alvarez 86).
Even more obnoxious than the random narration flops, was the fact that the stories in the book were unrelated. At one moment I would read about a character having a bad break up with her boyfriend, and just a few pages later I would read about troubles a character was having with her mental health. The only constant throughout the book were the characters, and it seemed as if the book should have been a collection of intriguing short stories, rather than a flowing novel. In conclusion, I would not recommend this book to anyone, and if looking for a window into a new culture I would suggest a story that has a clearer plot.

posted by 2435034 on December 16, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2008

    How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents

    "How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents" by Julia Alvarez is a story about a wealthy family of San Domingo forced to flee to the Bronx of New York City due to the father's involvment in a plot against the dictator. The story's chapters each have their own speaker which alternates between the Garcia family members and focuses on each member of the family's, mostly the daughters', traumas starting at adulthood and backtracking down to the childhood before their escape. The book expresses the importance of independence as to not crumble under small issues. <BR/>I did not enjoy this book i found it disappointing and overdramatic. It uneccesarily brought up the topic of sex too often. I found the chapters to be ultimately whiney and complaining when the family could have had things far more worse and were severely lucky for what they did have and gratitude was not once expressed, only feeling sorry for themselves. I did learn about a period in Hispanic history that i did not know about prior to reading the book which i did find interesting. I would reccomend this book to people who enjoy listening to other peoples' problems or those involved in a similar state but for others i do not reccomend this story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2008

    How The Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents

    The novel "How The Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents" by Julia Alvarez, is mainly about the four Garcia sisters Carla, Yolanda, Sandra, and Sofia. The girls were all born within a six-year span and thet are know as the four Gracia girls. They were living in the Dominican Republic the girls and their mother and father. They were living the great life in the Dominican Republic. They were rich, happy as could be, and surrounded by their loving family. They then moved to North America, and here they worked as hard as ever. Each of them had come for different purposes. To find love, go to school, finally have a change of scenery. Their lives, although they may have traveled different paths, they always remained sisters. Family was key, and they never lost sight of that. They went through many rough patches through their time there. Everything they went through varied from college, new loves, heartbreaks, divorces, new life, and everything in between. The girls always remained in each others hearts, and if the times got rough, they always had each other to fall back on. And if one of them got into trouble with their parents, they would stick up for each other, and try to even out the blame the other sisters. <BR/>I kinda like this book beacuse of all the different stories the sisters had to tell and share. Also becuase of all the different turn outs to their lives in North America.<BR/>I would recomned this book to anyone who likes thoose books that have alot going on. In this book there is a lot of detail and if you don't pay attention you get lost through out the whole book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2008

    Review

    Text Review: How the Garcia Girls Lost their Accents Historical context: US Race Relations/Chicano Movement/1956-1987 Reviewer: Molly Mackinlay May 29, 2008 In the novel How the Garcia Girls Lost their Accents, the author, Julia Alvarez examines the experiences of Latin American immigrants. The four daughters and their parents move to America after a failed attempt to overthrow the dictator of their home country: The Dominican Republic. The novel is mostly about the girl¿s attempts to assimilate in American society and their parents¿ reactions. My book was surprisingly historically accurate. While reading it, I felt like I was learning barely any history at all, but reading through the text book I found a lot of reference to different themes in history. On page 882 of the textbook, white flight is discussed and the effect this had on racial biases. This same theme was addressed in my book when the Dominican family moved out of their apartment into a small, uniform, suburban neighborhood. Other major events referenced by my novel are: the cold war ¿ the presence of the CIA in the Dominican Republic, the advent of TVs and similar technology ¿ the fact they had them, the hippie movement ¿ the sisters experimentation with marijuana, affirmative action ¿ the women all got into top schools, and the feminist movement ¿ the oldest daughter, Carla, became a feminist. The information about the struggle with the dictator in the Dominican Republic is interesting, but they don¿t go into enough detail. The text is accurate, but many of the historical references are vague and uninformative. The text is written from the point of view of a Latin American immigrant, and the author is of Latin ancestry. The author is more supportive of the Spanish culture than a white writer probably would have been. While she portrays the father as slightly unjust for holding on to the ¿old ways¿ so tightly, she helps the reader feel sympathy for his struggle to reconcile the cultures. The white people in this book seem unreal and unsupportive of the girls. Their faults are prominently shown and their interactions usually bring only strife into the family. (ex: the white doctor¿s wife and her drinking problem) I don¿t believe this text would have much impact on a reader¿s historical knowledge. First of all, it would have to be assigned for the reader to actually bother to finish the book. Secondly, the historical tidbits are so few and far between that it barely counts as more than a relatively accurate fiction based in the past. The book jumped from one character to another, leaving an incomplete picture of their lives and experiences. If it had chosen one character and told their story from beginning to end, it would have been able to include much more historical accuracy and knowledge. While I didn¿t die of boredom reading it, it wasn¿t interesting nor do I feel that I learned very much. I believe reading a book of straight facts would have been more interesting, if not as easy to read. The plus of not having to take notes would have made it feel less like a textbook reading and more like pleasure without sacrificing knowledge as a result. I wouldn¿t, couldn¿t recommend this book. Not to a friend, at least. It isn¿t horrible, and if you really enjoy reading fiction about Chicano race struggles, you might find it interesting, but other wise don¿t bother. The book is strangely organized to go backwards in time, a practice I found confusing and unhelpful. It was a book you force yourself to finish, and then feel no success because it doesn¿t seem to teach you anything. If given the choice, I would definitely have chosen to read through my textbook instead. Approximately a 2-.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2008

    How the garcia girls lost their accents.

    How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents was a magnificent book. I loved it. It was splendid. I used it as a novel in my senior english class. I think it was a very interesting book and i think that everyone should read it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2008

    How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents

    The Penguin Group published the book ¿How the García Girls Lost Their Accents¿ by Julia Alvarez, and it was one of the best books I have ever read. The book is about four sisters, Carla, Sandra, Yolanda and Sofía, and how their lives in the Dominican Republic were turned upside down when they were forced to move to the United States of America. The sisters lived a normal life in the Dominican Republic, they played with their cousins and spent a lot of time with their families, because they were all neighbors. But their dad gets involved with a sketchy group of people and their family had to flee to the U.S. to save their lives. The family had to fit into small houses and apartments and the young girls got hand me down cloths. The four girls talk about how they had to change everything they originally believed in to fit their new world. Each sister tells her story of what she has been through and how she, personally, has changed. They each got into their fare share of trouble when they were trying to fit in, but their mom wanted them to continue the Dominican beliefs. I liked this book because when I first picked it up I felt as if I couldn¿t put it back down. The stories that the García family tells are sometimes heartbreaking, but they make you feel as if you are really there with them. The book ¿How the García Girls Lost Their Accents¿ was one of the best books I have ever read in a very long time. I felt each sister¿s pain and happiness with each chapter. The things they have been through are almost unbelievable. I learned about the different life styles in the Dominican Republic and what it was like to live under the rule of a dictator. Before this book I never really knew about the different life styles, for example some areas you see small shacks for houses and then travel to a different street and you could see houses that are glamorous and much more expensive. When Yolanda travels back to the Dominican Republic in the first chapter she says,¿ Its hard to believe the poverty the radio commentators keep talking about.¿ I would recommend this book to any adult that enjoys reading stories from different perspectives. The book does have some mature adult content. If anyone under the age of sixteen wants to read this book I would recommend that your parents look at it first. Other than those few details this book is a book that could be enjoyable to anyone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2008

    confusing and boring

    How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez is about four sisters and their parents moving away from the Dominican Republic to New York in America. Because the girls feels different, they find it hard to try and fit in, meanwhile having to deal with all the hurtful things people say to them because of their race. I think Alvarez tries to show what the girls had to go through because they are immigrants but i didnt really see it, but i don't know if that's just because i wasn't really interested and not paying attention or not. I didn't like the way the vignettes went back in time from when they are adults to when they were much younger. I feel it would have made better sense and would have confused me a lot less if the story just started from the beginning and worked its was forward, but i do think it was a creative idea. The story did teach me some cultural thnigs though. When it said 'the four daughters always came home for their father's birthday. The would gather together, without husbands, would be husbands, or bring home work.' , it showed me that family in their culture is really important and they would leave things outside of the family behind so it wouldn't distract their time from each other. Although the book did teach me about culture, that was about the only thing that really got my attention. I felt there wasnt any real storyline and i often got confused on who was talking and to whom they were talking to. I wish i could have connected to the book more because i am too part of a family with a lot of girls but i couldn't.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2008

    How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents

    The novel How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez was even better that I had expected. After reading the author¿s summary of the book, I was sucked in but it continued to get better and better from there. Every page that I turned I was still being drawn in. The novel is mainly about the four Garcia sisters Carla, Yolanda, Sandra, and Sofia. The girls were all born within a six-year span, of each other, and had been ¿the four girls¿ ever since. They were living in the Dominican Republic the girls and their mother and father. They were living the luxurious life in the Dominican Republic. They were rich, surrounded by their loving family, and could be as happy as could be. They then moved to North America, and here they worked as hard as ever. Each of them had come for different purposes maybe to find love, go to school, finally have a change of scenery, ect. Their lives, although they may have traveled different paths, they always remained sisters. Family was key, and they never lost sight of that. They went through many rough patches through their time there. If being aliens in a whole new world was not enough to handle, they separated. Everything they went through individually varied from college, new loves, heartbreaks, divorces, new life, and everything in between. The girls always remained in each other¿s hearts, and if the times got rough, they always had each other to fall back on, no matter what. And if one of them got into trouble with their parents, they would stick up for each other, and try to even out the blame. Yolanda went to college when she was in America. Julia Alvarez writes, ¿He called roll, acknowledging most of the other students with nicknames and jokes and remarks, stumbling over my name and smiling falsely at me, a smile I had identified as one flashed on `foreign students to show them the natives were friendly¿. 'Alvarez 88' It was hard enough for Yolanda to come here and start a new school, but being such an outsider seemed to stir up even more difficulties. If I give anymore Im afraid I¿ll ruin the book. This book is best to read yourself, and not off of a review. It is truly a great story, and I recommend it to everyone, however I would recommend it mostly to girls because it is sort of a girly book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2008

    Don't judge the book by the first few pages.

    When I started reading How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents By Julia Alvarez, I was a little lost and not really interested. But when I continued reading I started to understand the theme and notice the interesting details in the story. This book provides the pros and cons of belonging to different cultures, overcoming fears, achieving goals and experiencing numerous life challenges. There are four main characters in the novel, The Garcia Girls- Carla, Yolanda, Sofia and Sandra (yet you learn most about Yolanda¿s life). Each one has their own distinct personality and flaws. They grew up with their family in the Dominican Republic but when they least expect it, their lives are greatly changed when they are forced to leave the Dominican. Through-out the story Yolanda is in seek of finding herself because she has trouble relating to others. Not only does she question and doubt herself, but also the people who surround her- ¿Yolanda makes out an undertow of men¿s voices. Quickly, she gets into the car, locks the door, and pulls back onto the road, hugging her right side (Alvarez- 20)¿. Once overcoming the few chapters, my opinion about the book started to change. Rating 1-5 (5 being the greatest) I would give the novel a 4. I wasn¿t too interested until I realized I could relate myself to the Garcia Girls, mainly Yolanda. From going to new places, having family trouble, meeting new people, and learning how to adjust and fit in. ¿She has been too frightened to carry out any strategy, but now a road is opening before her (Alvarez- 20)¿. A lot of things are scary in life until you take the first step and realize things aren¿t so bad. Even though I¿ve never moved, I still know the feeling of trying to fit in and being unsure of my surroundings- that being said I connected myself to Yolanda as she faced similar troubles. For people considering reading this book, I suggest you do so. Overall, if you are intrigued by different aspects on life and learning about the lives of others, this book will have many situations that you can compare yourself too. Enjoy! =)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2007

    Okay...

    Julia Alvarez¿s work caught my attention because of the main subject, the struggles that an immigrant has to go through. In a way I can relate to the characters in this book, I may not be an immigrant, but my parents are. They have gone through the same ups and downs as the Garcia family. I enjoyed reading this book particularly because of different types of characters there were, and their own personal problems each of them had to deal with. They may all be immigrants, but they had completely different personalities from one another. I fully respect Julia Alvarez as an author because she has a creative and unique way of writing, but there are also some negative parts of her book. I did not like the way Julia Alvarez wrote her back from present to past. Throughout most of the book, I found myself lost and not-knowing which year the event took place in. Overall, I enjoyed reading the stories of each Garcia daughter, they were stories that could happen to any teenage girl, no matter if they are immigrant or not.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2007

    good

    this book is pretty good:) it is kinda boring.. but it's still good though.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2007

    Ehh.. I expected more from this novel

    I have read many books of this sort, depicting the latin immigrants experience and assimilation in to American culture. However, I expected a much better story line. I had to force myself to finish the book, out of respect for Julia Alvarez and for myself as a reader. If a friend asked me if they should read this book, I would probably respond by saying, if you would like, I found it pretty boring and there are much better books depicting similar concepts.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2005

    'Simply Wonderful'- Los Angeles Times

    Julia Alvarez in her novel entitled How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents is extremely successful in making the reader cry, laugh, sigh, and smile. This wonderful story about how four girls have grown to live in New York working backwards from the 1980s to the 1950s when they were little girls in the Dominican Republic will make you find it impossible to put this novel back down on your nightstand. What makes this book so good? Being able to see the struggles of an immigrant family, see their double lives on the island and in the states, and seeing a different story from each main character. Hilarious fiascos with the cousins, husbands, and college boyfriends also find soft spots as these highly Dominican- moralized young ladies grow up to be complicated figures. You¿ll find yourself holding your breath as their father yells at their daughters when they fail him, as the father¿s hiding in the bedroom closet as the las gaurdias await for his arrival at the house to do who knows what, and during the family¿s treat to a fancy but overdone night out with the Fannings that turns sour when Mrs. Fanning gets more and more drunk as the night progresses. This book is great for any student, especially those studying Spanish culture, and also those looking to broaden their horizons in the respect to cultural awareness. Alvarez achieves greatness and it is a must read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2005

    READ IT!

    The book is a must read. The complex characters and the way the book went backwards from the 1980's to the 1950's, was amazing and quite unique. It would help if you had some idea of Spanish culture and the language, but for those who don't know anything, this book will give you insight on what being a first generation immigrant in America is actually like. I first became interested in Alvarez when my Spanish teacher talked about her writings in class. All in all, this book made me realize that no matter who you become, your past will always be with you.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2004

    Freshman College Student

    I enjoyed this book. It relate so much to me and my family. It can be a complicated book if you can't keep up with the characters. It has a lot of issues on family values. But it's a simple book that someone very close with all their family members would like.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2004

    My Review

    How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents taught me a lot about culture and the lives of immigrants. I enjoyed how the story described how the girls had to adapt to a new way of life and home. The book took you into the lives of the girls, and made you feel like you could feel what they were feeling. It is a book that can capture you and make you relate to the story. I really enjoyed how Alvarez set up the book. She had each chapter being told from another sister¿s perspective. She could really describe each of the girls and how they felt when moving to the United States from the Dominican Republic in 1961. I could relate to how the girls had a hard time fitting in and adjusting to their new schools because I switched schools a few times and didn¿t know many people and it was hard to find my place in the school. I would definitely recommend this book because not only is it easy to read and comprehend, it teaches you a lot about things that happen that you may not have realized. If you want to read a book that you are going to be interested in and not want to put down, read How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2004

    Wonderful Book!

    I thought this book was wonderful. I loved how Alvarez told so many different stories about all the girls and their family. This book kept my attention easily and never seemed boring. I really enjoyed reading this book because I have been to the island before so I could realte to the book some. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes to read fun books. I think this book would be a wonderful read for almost anyone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2004

    Brings back memories!

    I'm from the islands and was not that excited on reading the book for my research paper. I thought that it would bring no memories back to my big move to the U.S. After reading the book, I gave it FIVE stars,but what threw me off was the beginning chapter with Yolanda. Besides that I loved the book and it brought back so many meemories to me living on the island of Trinidad.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2004

    One of the most enchanting books I've read

    I had to read this for a college assignment, but it didn't feel like an assignment at all!! The pages flew by. It is a wonderful tale about storytelling and family. A must read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2004

    GOOD BOOK!

    AT FIRST TO ME THE BOOK WAS BORING AND A LITTLE CONFUSING AT FIRST BECAUSE OF THE WAY IT IS WRITTEN. BUT ONCE I GOT CUSTOM TO IT THE FACT THAT THE BOOK WAS WRITTEN IN SHORT STORIES I REALLY ENJOYED IT. I WOULD RECOMMENED THE BOOK TO EVERYONE BUT ESPECIALLY MY LATINO PEOPLE.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 20, 2003

    A book that provides the reader with pure enjoyment!

    This captivating story about a family rich in the Dominican culture illustrates the irreplaceable love of family and what it means to enjoy life. I haven't come across such a colorful, lively work in a long time!

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