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How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents
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How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  13,559 ratings  ·  918 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
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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...more
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...more
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
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...more
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
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
Sep 13, 2007 Kristen rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
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...more

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...more
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...more
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
Margaret Hernandez
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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.,
This book had potential to be great...but didn't really make it...
A couple of years ago, I finished reading Julia Alvarez’s “In the time of the Butterflies” for my 10th grade students in the plan of giving them something modern to read, because the 10th grade curriculum’s made up of classic and predominantly male oriented writers and works- namely at our school, Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar”, Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart” and Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men”. I wanted to throw in a female writer in the mix- a novel worthy as a companion to Sophocles’ “Antigone”. W...more
My favorite thing about How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents is that the its chapters are arranged in reverse chronological order, an arrangement that allows for the climax of the story to take place during the girls' childhood in the Dominican Republic rather than their adulthood in America. Instead of telling the story in which inevitable assimilation is given priority or defense, Alvarez' structure effectively emphasizes the impact of the Garcia girls' "lost accents."

Nicely done, Ms. Alvar...more
David V
I can sympathize with the Garcia girls because like them, I had to undergo a drastic change in my life which entitled me leaving my home country to go to America, just like the Garcia girls. This book touched me because I felt that a lot of their issues could happen to most immigrants.

This is a non-fiction book that uses short stories to emphasize the underlying themes of the book. Julia Alvarez is an exceptional writer that uses themes such as rebellion, honor, courage, reconciliation, and fami...more
This was an enjoyable book.

It's about four sisters growing up a privileged in the Dominican Republic and fleeing to New York City to start life anew. Each chapter was told from the point of view of one of the four sisters.

What I didn't like about this book was that it was told in chronological reverse order: started with a return visit to the Island as grownups then to the time they moved to New York City and finally, as they were growing up as children on the Island. It's an interesting concept...more
Leider war dieses Buch nicht mein Fall, obwohl mich die Beschreibung und auch der Anfang durchaus angesprochen hat.
Aber spätestens ab der 3. Geschichte hat mich das Leben der Schwestern nicht mehr wirklich interessiert. Wahrscheinlich liegt das hauptsächlich am Schreibstil, oder möglicherweise auch an den Übersetzungen?

In der Geschichte von Sandi dreht sich alles um psychische Probleme, und die kommen sehr bald auch bei Yolanda vor. Das ganze ist aber irgendwie sehr abstrus/merkwürdig beschrieb...more
This is a story about four sisters and their parents and their immigration to the United States and their escape from the Dominican Republic. The "four girls," as they are called frequently throughout the book experience American culture and lose some of their roots (or their accent) the longer they live in the United States.

The book moves backwards in time and is told through the viewpoints of different characters are different times.

I enjoyed the book a lot.
There were two things that really stood out to me as 'great' in this book:

1- I was surprised when I realized that the book was not written chronologically, but in reverse. I don't know that I've ever read a book written like that and while it seems like it could be pretty annoying, I thought it was nicely done.

2- The language and writing style was so simple. It was not bare-bones simple, it was just right. It told a good story using easy language and was just really well done.

I picked this book...more
I really wanted to like How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, and if each chapter was taken individually, I did. It did highlight the Hispanic cultural and immigration experience, which is what I was looking for. However, the overall organization of the book was very confusing. The story was told in a series of flashbacks. It started at the end in New York City, and moved back in time toward the beginning of the Garcia girls’ journey in the Dominican Republic. It took me a while to realize th...more
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.
Annalise Grey
I picked this up at my school's library because I loved her book, return to sender. but this one was just.... meh. I had to force myself to finish reading and really then it was only out of semi-boredom and nothing else to read.

I didn't like how the book started off the garcia girls' story later in life and worked backwards. also the point of view changed from entirely third person to suddenly a chapter was in first person. it seemed choppy and off. I might have liked the switching POVs more if...more
This is an amazing book and I think everyone should read it. It portrays a family moving from the Dominican Republic to the United States. It starts from the adulthood of a group of sisters and travels back to their childhood. There's some politics involved, but mostly it's about the their experiences. It's a good portrayal of some of the hardships immigrants face when they come to this country. As someone who is hispanic, I could really identify with some of the experiences these girls had. All...more
Ian Wood
This is the complete review as it appears at my blog dedicated to reading, writing (no 'rithmatic!), movies, & TV. Blog reviews often contain links which are not reproduced here, nor will updates or modifications to the blog review be replicated here. Graphic and children's novels reviewed on the blog will generally have some images from the book's interior, which are not reproduced here.

Note that I don't really do stars. To me a novel is either worth reading or it isn't. I can't rate a nove...more
Clancy Haase
How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents was an interesting read for me because it wasn't like the typical books I have read in the past. However, it wasn't necessarily my favorite book for various reasons. Julia Alvarez wrote this as a collection of stories to depict the struggles of a family moving from the Dominican Republic to their new home in New York. Throughout the stories told, we are shown the struggles the four Garcia girls; Carla, Sandra, Yolanda, and Sofia, faced while trying to cope...more
Nicholas Sangiacomo
The most prominent review printed on this book quotes that it is 'A joy to read', and I would agree with that. I did not have high expectations for this book, because I was assigned it in an immigrant literature class which has assigned a very same-y series of books that were mostly boring and too obvious in their lessons of learning to love America.

But first, this book is fun. Alvarez's prose is nice and she has a good sense of humor that she sprinkles liberally throughout. She is also not afr...more
Hmmm. Not sure about the format starting in present and going backward in time. Didn't seem to flow very well for me. Surely didn't like the ending! Childhood didn't seem so dysfunctional that two sisters ended up in mental hospitals. Was this a collection of short stories Alvarez made into a novel? Interesting comparison of their privileged life in Dominican Republic compared to early years in NYC. And yet they went to private school with Hoovers and Hanes. Too many inconsistencies.
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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
More about Julia Alvarez...
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