Cover image for How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents
Title:
How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents
Author:
Alvarez, Julia
Subject:
Fiction
Literature
Description:
"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
Publisher:
Algonquin Books
Date:
2010/01/12
Digital Format:
HTML

Kindle

Adobe EPUB
Language:
English

Summary

Summary

"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 Garc#65533;a sisters--Carla, Sandra, Yolanda, and Sof#65533;a--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 Garc#65533;a 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


Author Notes

Julia Alvarez was born in New York City on March 27, 1950 and was raised in the Dominican Republic. Before becoming a full-time writer, she traveled across the country with poetry-in-the-schools programs and then taught at the high school level and the college level. In 1991, she earned tenure at Middlebury College and published her first book How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accent, which won the PEN Oakland/Jefferson Miles Award for excellence in 1991. Her other works include In the Time of the Butterflies, The Other Side of El Otro Lado, and Once upon a Quinceañera: Coming of Age in the USA.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Four sisters and their experiences of life and love--in both the Dominican Republic where they were born and the U.S. where they now live. The Garcia girls represent an immigrant family that honors traditional ways and changed realities in a not-always-comfortable mix of old and new. Love and sex figure prominently as areas the sisters are all too willing to explore despite their father's vigilance, and the stratagems and connivances performed in the name of romance are often truly astounding and hilarious. Visits with relatives in the mother country play up these divergences from the old order, while lingering moral confusion adds a confrontational edge to the sisters' predicament. Perhaps a bit too episodic to build to a real climax, these stories nevertheless expose the pangs and joys of being a woman and becoming an American. ~--John Brosnahan


Publisher's Weekly Review

Alvarez's novel inches backward in time, unfolding as 15 separate but tightly linked tales of the four Garcia girls, daughters in a wealthy Dominican family who fled to the U.S. with their parents to escape the island's dictator. One central voice reads third-person narratives about the girls' experiences, acting as an axis that spools off the girls' individual voices in first-person chapters. Carla, Sandra, Yolanda and Sofia take turns describing their trials both with their Old World parents' strict ideas of proper behavior and their New World neighbors' resistance to the presence of immigrants. While the narrators (Blanca Camacho, Anne Henk, Annie Kosuch, Melanie Martinez and Noemi de la Puente) are never distinct enough for listeners to affix specific voices to characters, the book's title is illustrated perfectly by their flawless, accent-free English that switches smoothly to Spanish trills and rhythms when necessary, giving the reading both flair and authenticity. The audiobook enriches Alvarez's silvery prose and already delightful stories, making them dance even more gracefully. (Reviews, Apr. 5, 1991). (May) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.


Library Journal Review

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. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


School Library Journal Review

YA--Mature readers will appreciate the efforts of the four Altagracia sisters to adopt American ways while maintain ing their Dominican heritage. Covering the years 1960-1989 in reverse chronol ogy, the 15 stories highlight such salient events as a nervous breakdown, prob lems with husbands and boyfriends, clashes with parents because of chang ing values, career choices, and sibling rivalry. While several adult situations are described, Alvarez's ability to show the girls' innermost thoughts will en able YA readers to empathize with their process of assimilation.--Arlene Bath gate, R. E. Lee High School, Spring field, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


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