In the book “How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents”, Julia Alvarez tells the stories of four Dominican sisters, Carla, Yolanda, Sandra, and Sofia, who move to the United States. The sisters have trouble adjusting to academics, friends, and the conflict between their traditional values and the modern ones of others.
Alvarez changes point of view throughout the stories. At first this makes it confusing for the reader, but when venturing further, it makes the story interesting. Alvarez tells many compelling stories about girls trying to familiarize themselves with their new homes in The United States, but they often feel out of place.
The barriers between the girls and a new life style were always there. Carla noticed, “…No trespassing. The sign had surprised Carla since ‘forgive us our trespasses’ was the only other context in which she had heard the word” (151). Language was only one of the hurdles that the girls had to face, but it affected them immensely. It made school and friendships more difficult, Carla was made fun of for not being able to say the word “stop” correctly. I felt sorry for the girls numerous times while reading. I felt sorry when they were forced to behave a certain way at the Floor Show, I felt sorry when Sofia’s father didn’t include her in his daughter count, I felt sorry when boys would make fun of Carla’s accent, I felt sorry when Sofia was pressured to have sex before she was ready, and I felt sorry when their poor judgment caused them the suffering of being too gullible as to try to help a strange man with directions or not trust the morals of a hunter resulting in a stolen cat.
While reading I wondered whether this is a true account of Julia Alvarez’s life. The stories had a lot of feeling inside of them. While reading I felt like one of the girls. Alvarez captured her audience in that way. However, although Alvarez admits to using some personal experiences, she says “[her:] family would murder [her:] if [she:] said it was the truth.” She claims it is not a full autobiography. The book is contemporary fiction.
These pressures continue as the girls face movement back and forth from the Island and The United States. They feel pulled in two directions. They are conflicted as their worlds clash and they consider smuggling drugs back to the Island. It is a constant whirl between what they want to do and what they should do, as well as the conflict between being accepted by peers and being accepted by their parents. I enjoyed the book for this reason. I think that everyone can relate to these pressures and frustrations. I think it is ignorant for anyone to believe that they are better than someone based on race, language, and differences. This book tries to convey that lesson by walking in the footsteps of these four sisters.