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 April 30, 2011

    Great Book - Perfect for any Reader!

    I have just recently finished reading this book, and I believe that it is titled perfectly to describe events and cultural things that have changed for the Garcia girls throughout their childhood. The girls don't literally lose their accents, but throughout the novel they start losing things from their lives in the Dominican Republic. I think Julia Alvarez titled the book this way to describe how the Garcia girls became more Americanized and started forgetting about their heritage and culture.
    The largest influential change in the girls' lives that would allow them to "lose their accents" would be when the de la Torre family moved to America. They moved to escape the dangers of home and hoped to create a new life in America. Their parents are the only people in America that continue to try to live life as if they were still in the Dominican Republic. Their mother is a stickler about how young ladies should act and conduct themselves. Their father believes that American children are influencing the behaviors of his daughters. The girls are also learning English in school each day. They are learning quickly. Their mother already knows English, but their father is not entirely fluent. The family has to help him out.
    The Garcia girls have become very comfortable in America. They no longer dream of the day when they can go back to the Dominican Republic. They still visit every summer, but they enjoy their time in America. Each Garcia girl is different from the others and they each lead promising lives in America as they continue to go to school, write, or raise families.
    I would recommend this book to anyone! And I will definitely read another book by Julia Alvarez. I really enjoyed her style of writing!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 2, 2011

    Check it out!

    I believe that Julia Alvarez intended this book to be read by teenagers just moving to another country. I think she wanted to show these people that when they move to another country, it takes time for them to fit in and get along with everyone else. She does this by telling stories that happened to them as they moved to America and tried to fit into the American lifestyle. By telling different stories for each girl she showed that each person goes through something different when they move to a new country. She also wanted to show them that they should not fully lose their culture that they were taught in their home country. One way she did this was showing how Yolanda went back to the Dominican Republic after spending many years in America and getting use to life there. Another way she shows this is by going backwards in time because it shows how much they have changed, but also how they have remained the same throughout the years away from their home country. Also she wants to show these people that they should not do certain things that they do not want to because of how they are raised. This happens when Yolanda meets Rudy and did not want to have sexual relations with him because she did not believe in it. I think that she wrote it to this group of people because there are a lot of people who have to go through this everyday and she wanted to show them that it takes time to fit into the culture of a new culture.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2013

    Read and annotated

    Reading books in school has a habit of putting me off. It was difficult for me to enjoy this book because of the pacing and requirement of deep philospical questioning.also, the content of the book was a bit of a turn away, even for someone as well read as myself. I would recomend this as a library borrow, not an investment.

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  • Posted March 19, 2013

    Recommended

    Ms Alvarez's presentation is unusual, but once you realize she is going back in time, not too bad. As a person who emigrated to the United States at the age of 5, I can identify with the difficulties the girls experienced. It is a rite of passage that is bittersweet. Ms Alvarez captures the feelings well: No soy ni de aqui ni de aya.

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  • Posted December 15, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Cougar H

    I learned that there four daughter carla,sandra,yolanda and sofia belong to this spanish asociaty from the conquistadores.There family visits this palacio dictators daughter.So when Dr Garcia Apart to its attemp to discover something.They went to new york city in 1960 to there life so far from there exsistence the dominican replublic.
    the girls are having troubles speaking spanish and there strategies. but there are trying to live it up and tryin to tell there father that they want america boyfriends. and they still want those traditinal things. they go to schools they all go together they all went to there class but sandra got caught by having a bag of weed she got introuble they send her to colombia and she stayed there everybody was worried mad and cryin sad asking questions however it had to be that way.
    she went to a new world in columbia and a old world new york she has
    to decide wich one and not to be bad at alll
    Dr Garcia teaches her to be a good girl and what does weed do to your body and brain she thought it was bad so she stoped and that momment her american boyfriend came she took her home and lost her accent to her family and never heard of them again.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 15, 2009

    How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez

    I read the book How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez. I enjoyed reading this book and found it interesting to learn about people from different cultures. This book is about four Hispanic sisters from The Dominican Republic. Sofia, Carla, Yolanda, and Sandra Garcia all moved from their beloved home in The Dominican to the United States. For each of the sisters, the move was very hard because their whole family lived in The Dominican Republic and it was where they all grew up. In the United States the girls were forced to transition into the modern American teenager. For some of the sisters this was easy, but for others, living in another culture was quite difficult. They were all faced with cahllenges such as being made fun of, or being pressured into something that their parents would not aprove of. In the book you will read about how the girls adapted into Americans. They met men from America and went to college. They got married and had children of their own. I found that this book was a little confusing in the beginning because I wasn't exactly sure who the characters were since they weren't really introduced, but towards the end it makes more sence. In this book I enjoyed that each of the sisters were very different. For example Sofia was the more adventurous girl, while Yolanda liked to stay true to her culture. In the book there is many different stories told by each of the 4 girls and also by there mami and papi. I found the stories interesting and fun to read because it showed exactly how difficult is was for them to adapt to living in the United States. I wouldn't recomend this book to everyone because it is confusing to understand at times. I would recomend this to anyone who enjoys reading about cultures and learning about different types of people. The book isn't very long and its pretty easy to read and understand. Overall I liked this book but it wasn't my favorite.

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  • Posted November 11, 2009

    Nice Story

    I thought this was a great story about four girls, working backwards from adulthood in the United States to childhood in the Dominican Republic, before exile. Alvarez spends equal time on each character, so the reader can relate easily to each one. One aspect of the story that I have to criticize is that at first it seemed like beach reading, but once I got into the story, it was very enjoyable and intellectually stimulating.

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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 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 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 August 19, 2003

    A bit disappointing

    I read 'In the time of the butterflies' by Alvarez and really enjoyed the book, it's one of my favorites, so I thought I would love this book also, but was a little disapointed. It did not have much of a story line, but was still worth a read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2003

    Appreciating dominican culture from 1st generation american

    Some comments have been made that Julia Alvarez does represent dominican culture properly, in the book How the Garcia girls lost their accents, because of the life of leisure that they lead. Well, that IS part of Dominican culture as well. And it shed good light at that. Anytime that there is mention or pictures of La Republica Dominicana, all we see is poverty and ignorance written in the faces of our people. Be happy that a fellow dominicana was able to bring out some good of our country to American readers, who prefer to travel to P.R., as if that is the only beautiful island in our caribbean. The only thing that I did not like in the story was some of the life choices of the sisters, as if the conflict of cultures, made them confused as to choosing better lives morally. I was in the same predicament and choose to lead a more morally upstanding life. And that was done, not by focusing so much on what made our cultures so different, but how they can compliment each other, for our bilinngual benefit.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2002

    Not what I expected...

    The book was kind of boring. To tell the truth, the only reason I was inetersted in the book was because it had to do with Dominicans and I'm Dominican. I think that Julia didnt depict DR that well. Also, since the girls came from a rich family in DR, true Dominican life wasnt really shown. The book bored me at times. It really had no plot, or story line or conflict. It was just the girls telling different experiences they had in DR and in America. The book was OK. It's good to read it if you have some free time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2002

    Very detailed

    How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accent is a detailed account of the Garcia family's sudden transition from the Dominican Republic to New York. Julia Alvarez cleverly allows the reader to see each characters point-of-view and derive how they each feel about this transition. You get the feeling that you are right there with the Garcia family.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2001

    Good Reading

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading ¿How the Garcia Girls Lost their Accents¿, by Julia Alvarez. It was interesting how Alvarez reversed the timeline. It allows the reader to know each character and then really get to know their character. The scenes were beautifully descriptive and the characters colorful as well.

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