How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents

3.9 109
by Julia Alvarez
     
 

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“Simply wonderful.” —Los Angeles Times
 
Acclaimed writer Julia Alvarez’s brilliant and buoyant and beloved first novel gives voice to four sisters recounting their adventures growing up in two cultures. Selected as a Notable Book by both the New York Times and the American Library Association, it won the

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Overview

“Simply wonderful.” —Los Angeles Times
 
Acclaimed writer Julia Alvarez’s brilliant and buoyant and beloved first novel gives voice to four sisters recounting their adventures growing up in two cultures. Selected as a Notable Book by both the New York Times and the American Library Association, it won the PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Award for books with a multicultural perspective and was chosen by New York librarians as one of twenty-one classics for the twenty-first century. Ms. Alvarez was recently honored with the 2013 National Medal of Arts for her extraordinary storytelling. 

In this debut novel, 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 a tyrannical dictator is discovered. They arrive in New York City in 1960 to a life far removed from their existence in the Caribbean. In the wild and wondrous and not always welcoming U.S.A., their parents try to hold on to their old ways, but the girls try find new lives: by forgetting their Spanish, by straightening their hair and wearing fringed bell bottoms. For them, it is at once liberating and excruciating to be caught between the old world and the new. How the García Girls Lost Their Accents sets the sisters free to tell their most intimate stories about how they came to be at home—and not at home—in America.
 
“A joy to read.” —The Cleveland Plain Dealer

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Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post Book World
"Subtle . . . Powerful . . . Reveals the intricacies of family, the impact of culture and place, and the profound power of language." —The San Diego Tribune
The San Diego Tribune
"Poignant . . . Powerful . . . Beautifully capture[s] the threshold experience of the new immigrant, where the past is not yet a memory.” —The New York Times Book Review
The New York Times Book Review
"[A] joy to read." —The Cleveland Plain Dealer
From the Publisher
"A clear-eyed look at the insecurity and yearning for a sense of belonging that are a part of the immigrant experience . . . Movingly told." —The Washington Post Book World
The Cleveland Plain Dealer
"[A] joy to read." —The Cleveland Plain Dealer
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The chronicle of a family in exile that is forced to find a new identity in a new land, these 15 short tales, grouped into three sections, form a rich, novel-like mosaic. Alvarez, whose first fiction this is, has an ear for the dialogue of non-natives, and the strong flavors of Dominican syntax and cultural values permeate these pages. Many parallels may be drawn between these stories and Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club. Central to both are young, first generation American females in rebellion against their immigrant elders, and in both books the stories pile up with layers of multiple points of view and overlapping experiences, building to a sense of family myths in the making. The four Garcia daughters, whom we meet as adults but then re-encounter as children as the narrative flows backward in time, are accustomed to a prestigious perch in Spanish Caribbean society. But political upheavals force Papi and Mami to seek refuge in a more modest way of life in the Bronx, and their little girls become transplants who thrive and desire a far bigger embrace of this new world than the elder Garcias can contemplate or accept. This is an account of parallel odysseys, as each of the four daughters adapts in her own way, and a large part of Alvarez's Gar cia's accomplishment is the complexity with which these vivid characters are rendered. (May)
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
Fifteen interconnected stories portray with warmth and humor the assimilation of a Dominican doctor's family into urban American culture.
Library Journal
This rollicking, highly original first novel tells the story (in reverse chronological order) of four sisters and their family, as they become Americanized after fleeing the Dominican Republic in the 1960s. A family of privilege in the police state they leave, the Garcias experience understandable readjustment problems in the United States, particularly old world patriarch Papi. The sisters fare better but grow up conscious, like all immigrants, of living in two worlds. There is no straightforward plot; rather, vignettes (often exquisite short stories in their own right) featuring one or more of the sisters--Carle, Sandi, Yolanda, and Fifi--at various stages of growing up are strung together in a smooth, readable story. Alvarez is a gifted, evocative storyteller of promise.-- Ann H. Fisher, Radford P.L., Va.
School Library Journal
YA-- This sensitive story of four sisters who must adjust to life in America after having to flee from the Dominican Republic is told through a series of episodes beginning in adulthood, when their lives have been shaped by U. S. mores, and moving backwards to their wealthy childhood on the island. Adapting to American life is difficult and causes embarrassment when friends meet their parents, anger as they are bullied and called ``spics,'' and identity confusion following summer trips to the family compound in the Dominican Republic. These interconnected vignettes of family life, resilience, and love are skillfully intertwined and offer young adults a perspective on immigration and families as well as a look at America through Hispanic eyes. This unique coming-of-age tale is a feast of stories that will enchant and captivate readers.-- Pam Spencer, Thomas Jefferson Sci-Tech, Fairfax County, VA

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781565129757
Publisher:
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Publication date:
01/12/2010
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
59,671
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

Meet the Author

Julia Alvarez left the Dominican Republic for the United States in 1960 at the age of ten. A novelist, poet, and essayist, she is the author of nineteen books, including How the García Girls Lost Their Accents,In the Time of the Butterflies—a National Endowment for the Arts Big Read Selection—Yo!, Something to Declare, In the Name of Salome, Saving theWorld, A Wedding in Haiti, and The Woman I Kept to Myself. Her work has garnered wide recognition, including the 2013 National Medal of Arts, a Latina Leader Award in Literature in 2007 from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, the 2002 Hispanic Heritage Award in Literature, the 2000 Woman of the Year by Latina magazine, and inclusion in the New York Public Library’s 1996 program “The Hand of the Poet: Original Manuscripts by 100 Masters, from John Donne to Julia Alvarez.” A writer-in-residence at Middlebury College, Alvarez and her husband, Bill Eichner, established Alta Gracia, an organic coffee farm–literacy arts center, in her homeland, the Dominican Republic.

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Brief Biography

Hometown:
Middlebury, Vermont
Date of Birth:
March 27, 1950
Place of Birth:
New York, New York
Education:
B.A., Middlebury College, 1971; M.F.A., Syracuse University, 1975

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