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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 February 28, 2013

    My last name is Garcia by bllod and i cine from cuba and spain.

    Am i special?

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 26, 2011

    Outstanding novel, a must read

    This novel was a really good one. The way it was written, it really made it seem realistic. Families have had to go through things like what the Garcia family went through. I can read this novel over and over again.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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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 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 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 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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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2003

    A Superb Book About the Immigrant Experience

    How The Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents is truly a great masterpiece of fiction. It is a repetoir of 15 short stories about the Garcia Girls -- Carla, Sandra, Yolanda, and Sofia, and their experiences in life, from the pre-exile period in the Dominican Republic, to Yolanda's visit to the Island as an adult. This is a 'must-read' on book-lists about immigrants.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2002

    Engrossing!

    How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez is a lovely tale of the Garcia family¿s struggle migrating from their country to the United States. The story recounts the adventures of the four Garcia girls and their parents while in their country as well as after their arrival in the U.S. The book is not so much about the migration process as it is about the family unity and love that binds us all. I recommend this book to everyone especially those whose family is an integral part of their lives.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2002

    Wonderful Book

    I found ¿How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents¿ very interesting. What amazed me the most about this book is how it begins, by telling the story from the latest to the earliest stages in the four Garcia girls¿ lives. I couldn¿t help but feel compassion and sadness to every character in this book. The four girls and their mother were always so sad and depressed; and the fact that the entire family had to leave their country is enough reason to be sad and depressed. I give this book five stars because unlike the many books that I¿ve read in regards to Hispanic Americans and immigration, I can relate a great deal to all four girls. Julia Alvarez did a wonderful and creative job in this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2002

    Family Values

    It's been a while since I actually cared or even related to characters in a story, as I do for the Garcia family. In this nostalgic display of stories about a family coming to terms with an unlikely loss. Resembling as a T.V. show you would almost find on HBO. This wonderfully written novel reflects the ever-changing attitudes of a family coping with the loss of nationality and identity. It took me while to really get into it but after the 1st ten pages you get the sense of the dark humor and drama these sister's encounter during turbulent and chaotic times. Alvarez displays each character with almost diverse array of emotions. If you're in a mood for Six Feet Under type of drama without the dead bodies and the embalming fluid this is a must read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2002

    MDCC - LIT 2480 (online Student)

    The book ¿How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents¿ by Julia Alvarez is definitely a best seller. This book is not shy of any difficult or uneasy situation a normal family may experience. It keeps it real and tells it all about a Dominican family that moves to the United States. The Garcia family is a well-known family in the Dominican Republic, but like many other immigrants, they migrate due to political reasons. Any reader, regardless of race, will experience the events thru the author and will understand this family¿s search to fit in. The Garcia family is trying to get comfortable in this new setting and at the same time reinventing themselves or finding their new identity. The author¿s words literately allow you to imagine the exact setting and sit in on every scene.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2002

    An Excellent Book

    The story is about four sisters trying to cope with the assimilation process to a new culture,fleeing repression they find themselves arriving in New York as new inmmigrants from the Dominican Republic, a whole new set of challenges lay ahead of them. The author takes you deep into all the details of their adult life and once you are fully familiar with Fifi, Carla, and Yo, Julia Alvares in a very unique approach takes you on a journey back in time to their childhood life, giving the story a whole new perspective from which to draw new conclusions, entertaining and well written.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2002

    Great Novel

    Cheddy Mendez LIT 2480 at MDCC, July 11, 2002 Great Novel Christina Garcia¿s ¿Dreaming in Cuban¿ illustrates a family style of life transformed under different circumstances. The novel covers the beliefs of the family¿s political views and their religious beliefs. Although the novel is basically about the family and how they adapt to the world they live in each character in the story has their very own eccentric behavior. Only Pilar and her grandmother Celia share a unique bond between them that carries strong throughout the story. During their life the characters provide several indications that they are not in the right state of mind and experience and do bizarre things when physical and emotion atmosphere changes. The book briefly tells the history of how life in Cuba was under a very strict communist government. The characters experience mixed emotions between their stays at Cuba, New York, and Miami. This book is extremely well written and was easier to relate to because my family is from that generation.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2002

    Cheddy Mendez Mdcc student LIT2480

    This novel by Julia Garcia is great because it reveals real life situations and how a Dominican family adapts to life in the United States of America after basically being raised in their homeland. The story mostly consists of four sisters, (Carla, Sandi, Yolanda, and Fifi) and their parents Carlos and Laura. The adjustment for the family was relatively harsh, due to the fact that they came from having everything in their homeland to basically trying to survive in this new environment they now tried to call their new home. The novel is very interesting since it is not narrated in chronological order so it makes the reader further analyze the story and put it together after finishing the book. Coming from a Hispanic family and being able to relate to these kinds of situations makes the story more interesting in my eyes. The novel is excellent and is a great paperback for any reader¿s collection.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2002

    Great book!

    How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents is a great book. Anyone who has mixed cultures can identify with this story about leaving one country for the US and later returning to see everything in a totally different way. It shows how 'Americanization' plays a part in this familie's personalities.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2002

    Amusing and Delightful Collection of Stories.

    Judy Ballam, MDCC Hispanic Literature HOW THE GARCIA GIRLS LOST THEIR ACCENTS. The affluent life of Dr. Garcia, his wife and four daughters comes to an abrupt end when they must flee the Dominican Republic with just a little more than the clothes on their back. No one had prepared them for what life in the United States would be like. Each Garcia girl begins her story as an adult and moves backward in time. Their struggles as sisters, immigrants, non-English speakers, and against their parents¿ traditional values is told in a delightful dialogue. Leaving friends, family, possessions, prestige and wealth behind on the island for American citizenship is not an easy choice for the Garcia girls. As they adapt to life in the United States, Alvarez superbly develops the complexity of each character. A strong flavor of Dominican culture and realism in her collection of these narrated stories makes reading about their lives amusing and entertaining.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2002

    WOW

    How the Garcia Girls Lost their Accents speaks about assimilation to a new culture, adaptation, survival, acceptance, importance of family and its roots, family relationships, and identity. The book is full of messages and even though the timeline is reversed, it is written in a very simple form. Over the course of the novel the protagonist, Yolanda, deconstructs the way her family has gradually become American, at the expense of their unique Dominicanism and identity. I recommend this book to everyone. If you are an immigrant in this country, get ready to laugh at all the similarities you will be able to relate with, and more important than anything grab a pen and paper and jot down some notes because there¿s plenty for you to learn from in this book. If you are an American, this book is definitely written for you. Deeply rooted in it is the message of acceptance and coexistence without stomping all the good things immigrants add to this melting pot we call America. A must read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2002

    Great Family book

    I strongly recommend this book to everyone. I was able to relate a whole lot to it because I am Latin as well as one of four sisters. I thought that the stories were great and I believe that everyone even non-Latin people will be able to enjoy this book. The situations demonstrated are everyday scenarios that I think most of us can relate to. Aside from the books content, it was very well written. The way she described certain setting makes the reader feel like they are inside the book together with the characters.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2002

    The best family book ever...

    This is the best family book that I have read until now. It's based on true life events. I can relate to alot of whats going on. One particular character sounds just like my me. I would recommend it from now on to my friends and co-workers. I already loaned it to my sister. She can't put it down neighter.

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