Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents” as Want to Read:
How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents

3.62  ·  Rating Details ·  18,305 Ratings  ·  1,223 Reviews
Julia Alvarez's brilliant first book of fiction sets the Garcia girls free to tell their irrepressibly intimate stories about how they came to be at home -- and not at home -- in America.

"A warm, honest rendering of family life." --Elle Magazine

"She has beautifully captured the threshold experience of the new immigrant." --New York Times Book Review
Hardcover, 290 pages
Published January 4th 1991 by Algonquin Books
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accent is Julia Alvarez fictionalized account of her childhood when she moved with her family from the Dominican Republic to New York following the 1960 Trujillo revolution. Her story is told in alternating chapters through the eyes of the four Garcia sisters- Carla, Sandi, Yolanda, and Sofia (Fifi) and follows them in reverse chronological order from adulthood to early childhood. Alvarez displays the Garcia de la Torre clan's love for the island on their path to ...more
Jan 06, 2008 Tamara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I was so intrigued by the title that I kept it on my to-read list for years, but when I finally settled down to read it, I didn't fall immediately in love. I felt the "voices" of the various sisters were too similar, and all of them seemed quite shallow.

However, it is not without its merits. The book moves backwards in time, and the younger the girls got, the more interested I became in their characters. I especially liked reading about their lives before they moved to the States. My favorite p
Mar 13, 2008 Tracy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Julia Alvarez wrote one of my favorite essays in "Why I'm Still Married" so I was really excited when I found a copy of this book for $0.50 at tha library book sale. I read it on my way to Tucson last week, so I already latin food and culture on my mind!

I really liked the way this book moved backwards in time, working its way from Yolanda's trip back to the Dominican Republic in the 1990's to her childhood on the island in the 1960's. For the most part, I enjoyed the book, but I thought it lacke
Jan 06, 2011 Travis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
I enjoyed this quite a lot, but I really think it should have been marketed as a book of short stories. Instead it's a book of short stories that is called a novel, yet has none of the cohesion or overarching plot required of a novel, though the stories are all about the same four women. It's also very obvious that many of these stories were originally published separately, as there's a lot of repeated background info, introducing characters as if we've never met them before when it's the fifth ...more
Jan 26, 2010 Steve rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I had high hopes for How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez. These hopes continued to grow after reading the two short stories “The Kiss” and “The Rudy Elmenhurst Story.” These were both two very well written, expressive, and generally entertaining stories that did well in holding the reader’s attention and delivered strong, powerful endings.

However, as I read on I could not get myself to distinguish between the four Garcia girls: Carla, Sophia, Sandra, and Yolanda. Although s
Andrea Poulain

Cómo las chicas García perdieron sus acentos, traducción literal del título de la novela, empieza con el regreso de Yolanda a su isla natal, Republica Dominicada, a los treinta y nueve, después de cinco años de no pisarla. Sus tías la obligan a hablar en español, aunque parece que se le han ido olvidando las palabras y lo único que quiere es ir al campo a comer guayabas, ella sola, en un carro y sin chaperón, lo que resulta un escándalo entre su familia. D
As the title suggests, How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, is about four Dominican girls who moves to America and adjusting to the American culture, in terms of language, academics, and living standards. Back in the Dominican Republic, the four girls, Carla, Sandra, Yolanda and Sofia all lives extravagant lives with their father. All four girls can be described as extremely rebellious again their family and traditional values, where there are sex, drugs, and criminal actions were involoves, ...more
Noureen Faliksher
Apr 05, 2015 Noureen Faliksher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Many books make their way into high school classrooms. Some of these books are met with great praise, while others are thrown into garbage cans never to be looked at again. However, How the García Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez is definitely a novel that does not deserve to be left within the grime of your trash. The novel follows the lives of four sisters named Carla, Sandra, Yolanda, and Sofía who immigrate to the United States with their mother and father from the Dominican Republi ...more
Jan 26, 2010 Chris rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

Personally, I believe “How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents” by Julia Alvarez is a pretty weak book. Her inspiration from the book came from real life experiences as she lived in the Dominican Republic the first ten years of her life until she had to flee due to her Father’s participation in a political rebellion. Although this book depicts her real life quite well, I don’t feel Julia does such a great job of getting her true emotions across by jumping from one story to another. Also, I find
Sep 13, 2007 Kristen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those interested in understanding how immigrants feel when moving to the States from their homeland
Any amazing portrayal about a family from the Dominican Republic moving to New York. One great part about this book is that it isn't from only one person's perspective. It details the POV of daughters and parents, because they each had a different experience. Some wanted to quickly become as American as possible, some wanted to hold strongly to their Dominican roots. I love the way it is told via vignettes (great for my short attention span!). But my favorite aspect is how the story is told back ...more
Jun 02, 2011 Sarah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
First off, the reverse chronological thing just threw me. I had a hard time understanding who was crazy when and when they were crazy, if it was really crazy or just stream of consciousness writing. And as with a lot of minority authors, I don’t see why they have to focus on only negative experiences. I’m sure the Garcia girls had a lot of good experiences which shaped them, but Alvarez chose only to focus on the negative. There was so much sexual content in this book, I’d almost feel uncomforta ...more
Stephanie (That's What She Read)
I absolutely loved this book. It's set up like a series of short stories about the family told in reverse chronological order. Here's why I loved it:

1. Even as a second-generation Latino immigrant the stories resonated strongly with me. She perfectly captures that feeling of being between cultures.

2. It was refreshing to see a loving father in the Latin-American genre. I feel like the few books that I've read always have either an absent or deadbeat dad figure.

3 It had a wonderful cast of four
Apr 17, 2015 Roy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a beautifully written book. But it's one of those works of fiction that isn't really about anything in particular. Readers spend time with alternating Garcia girls in random order throughout a portion of their lives. There is no plot to speak of. The chapters are connected by the fact that one or more Garcia girl is featured in each of them, but you could read them in any order you wanted without impacting the reading experience. The chapters/scenes hold your attention in standalone fash ...more
Roxanne (The Novel Sanctuary)
I think this is a great read if you want to learn about the immigrant experience. If you'd like to see how subtly machismo and anti-blackness enters the daily lives of latinx families but how powerful they are, this would also be a good read.
Feb 27, 2017 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: diverse-works
Maybe 3.5 stars. It was told in reverse chronological order, by a few different viewpoints, which got a bit confusing. Interesting novel about four sisters who grew up in the Dominican Republic and New York, and how their lives change because of that.
May 17, 2013 Joanne rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Wow I was under-impressed. This is the story of sisters who were born into the lap of luxury in South America and then were forced to migrate to North America for political reasons.

But this is not the story of a family who had to struggle in America, it is the story of four girls, who even uprooted were never in a state of poverty and yet at some point in the novel each of the four girls gets looney and has to spend time either with a shrink or in a facility.

While the family was forced to flee
Jul 21, 2013 Danise rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This felt more like a collection of short stories than a novel, although the short stories were about the same 4 sisters. It read like they should be separate and we didn't have to read one to know what was going on in the others, and kept being "reintroduced" to people we already knew. I almost didn't finish it, but wanted to see whether it would redeem itself. Disappointing.
Apr 24, 2013 Melissa rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Women's National Book Association of New Orleans
The Women's National Book Association sent this book to the White House today (March 20) in honor of Women's History Month:

From the Women's National Book Association's press release:

When political upheavals force the Garcia family to flee to the U.S. from their home in the Dominican Republic, they exchange their privileged former life for a modest existence in the Bronx. Alvarez tells the story of their adjustment to a new culture in a backwards chronolog
Apr 05, 2015 Sadia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rarely do high school students enjoy the books they are assigned to read by their English teachers. However Julia Alvarez’s novel, How the Garcia Girls Lost their Accents, proves that among the tiresome texts, there are also some texts that are refreshing. How the Garcia Girls Lost their Accents, describes the hard transition immigrants must make in order to feel at home in a new country. Garcia sisters, Carla, Sandra, Yolanda, and Sofia move to the United States after their father gets into tr ...more
Aaron Alexius
Snapshot:The four Garcia daughters come of age and into wisdom while negotiating the transition from being Dominican nobles to being America immigrants visiting the island. Each section looks at an age in the life of the protagonists, beginning with their young adult lives revisiting family on the island. Successive chapters go back in time 5-10 years each time, eventually detailing how each of the Garcia girls became deeply complex Garcia women.

Hook: This is a collection of first person narrati
Gledynthon Ortiz
Sep 27, 2014 Gledynthon Ortiz rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scl
Es una historia interesante de cuatro hermanas, que consta de 3 partes y se desarrolla de la situación actual (un poco antes de la publicación del libro) a la época en cuando estas eran niñas y ni tenían idea de que vivirían fuera de su país. Pienso que esto lo hace interesante ya que la mayoría de los libros que he leído van en orden cronológico ascendente y en la vida real conocemos a las personas primero antes que su historia, es decir; en sentido inverso.

Para mi tiene sus altas y bajas, aunq
Joanie Sompayrac
Feb 04, 2016 Joanie Sompayrac rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Julia Alvarez offers readers a glimpse of the wide range of hardships that immigrants face when they attempt to assimilate. It is not really a novel as much as it a series of short stories that are arranged in reverse chronological order. The stories begin from the adult perspectives of the four adult Garcia sisters after they have integrated into American culture. The middle set of stories describes some of the family's experience as immigrants in the United States. The final set of stories foc ...more
Dec 10, 2015 Josie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I chose to read this book for a challenge and I have to say that I was very impressed with the writing.
I've got mixed feelings however with the story. I'm not sure if it was, for me, that the book was too short, and that the story felt under developed, but it just felt a bit lacking. That said, I enjoyed the book overall, and it has made me want to read more by this author.
I'm appreciative of the insight it gave me into the Dominican Republic, and I loved "the four girls".
Think I need to investi
May 18, 2013 JP rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those rare occasions where I just don't get what everyone else sees. For me, the story would be easier to understand through more distinct short stories, rather than the Cubist approach Alvarez uses. The story certainly does convey some of the cultural nuances of the Dominican Republic, but I found even this to be overkill in places. For example, in one passage, she includes a series of malapropisms used by one of the main characters who had migrated to the US. There were so many ...more
Brigid *Flying Kick-a-pow!*
I chose to read this book for an independent reading project for English class; we had a list of authors to choose from and I'd been meaning to read something by Alvarez for a while, plus I own a copy. So I brought it on a long road trip and read the entire thing in the car (luckily I don't get carsick when I read in the car anymore, heh heh).

I thought it was a beautiful book––amazing writing, a believable and emotional story, great characters. It really sucked me in and gripped me the whole tim
I read this book years ago, and just reread it. And, I love it even more. The García girls' story is an ode to culture and home and where one lives and the navigation that many people have to conduct in order to define what all of those things mean: especially those who come from Latin America and/or the Caribbean. Worth the read.
☼♎ Carmen the Bootyshaker Temptress ☼♎
This is the second time that I read this book. I haven't read it in awhile and decided why not. I still enjoyed the sisters struggles between being the Spanish that they were born or try and adjust to the country that they now live in. You see what the girls go through and how they become the people they are now. Still a very enjoyable book.
Mar 26, 2015 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved the writing in about 70% of the book, but sometimes the anectdotes
became too tedious and bogged down. Much of this = 5 stars, some of this = barely 3 stars. So I settled on the 4 stars as my rating.
Nov 29, 2013 Alana rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really did not like this book.. It never groppied me., it never really developed the caractors at all and frankly there was no real story here.,
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
500 Great Books B...: How the García Girls Lost Their Accents - Julia Álvarez 2 20 Jan 31, 2017 04:26AM  
Torn Between Cultures 1 8 Jun 11, 2015 07:55AM  
Torn Between Cultures 1 2 Jun 11, 2015 07:54AM  
Torn Between Cultures 1 2 Jun 11, 2015 07:50AM  
  • When I Was Puerto Rican
  • Dreaming in Cuban
  • Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories
  • So Far from God
  • ... y no se lo tragó la tierra ... and the Earth Did Not Devour Him
  • Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America
  • Down These Mean Streets
  • Silent Dancing: A Partial Remembrance of a Puerto Rican Childhood
  • Krik? Krak!
  • The Fourteen Sisters of Emilio Montez O'Brien
  • Estrella's Quinceanera
  • American Chica: Two Worlds, One Childhood
  • Under the Feet of Jesus
  • Reaching Out
  • Chicana Falsa
  • The House on the Lagoon
  • Chicana Feminist Thought: The Basic Historical Writings
  • Brown Girl, Brownstones
Julia Álvarez was born in New York City. Her parents moved back to the Dominican Republic when Álvarez was 3 months old and she was raised there until she was 10, when the family moved back to NYC.

She is currently writer-in-residence at Middlebury College and the owner of a coffee farm named Alta Gracia, near Jarabacoa in the mountains of the Dominican Republic. The farm hosts a school to teach l
More about Julia Alvarez...

Share This Book