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How the García Girls Lost Their Accents

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3.64  ·  Rating details ·  25,537 ratings  ·  1,916 reviews
Uprooted from their family home in the Dominican Republic, the four Garcia sisters - Carla, Sandra, Yolanda, and Sofia - arrive in New York City in 1960 to find a life far different from the genteel existence of maids, manicures, and extended family they left behind. What they have lost - and what they find - is revealed in the fifteen interconnected stories that make up t ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published October 4th 2005 by Plume (first published January 4th 1991)
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Popular Answered Questions
Hannah Albracht Yes, there are. One of the sisters drawings seem to translate into real life events.
Genevieve I'm not sure they do. They seem to be bound by being sisters as opposed to any friendly feelings towards one another as adults, and as kids, it seems …moreI'm not sure they do. They seem to be bound by being sisters as opposed to any friendly feelings towards one another as adults, and as kids, it seems more that they band together in the way many siblings do, out of necessity or proximity.(less)

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Average rating 3.64  · 
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Kat
***read for women in lit course***
Brina
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
Tamara
Jan 06, 2008 rated it liked it
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
...more
Travis
Jan 06, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult, 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
Steve
Jan 26, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
Roy
Apr 17, 2015 rated it liked it
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
Tracy
Mar 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Lorna
How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez is a beautiful book written with lyrical and descriptive prose. This fictional novel of four sisters is said to be a very autobiographical account of Alvarez's early childhood in the Dominican Republic and later emigrating to New York when they are forced to flee the dictatorship of Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina. This is a delightful and gripping tale of the four Garcia sisters - Carla, Sandra, Yolanda, and Sofia - told in alternating ch ...more
Book Concierge
The García family flees the Dominican Republic for the United States amid political unrest. The four sisters – Carla, Sandra, Yolanda, and Sofia – find 1960s New York City very different from the upper-middle-class life they knew “back home.” Absent their maids and extended family, the García girls do their best to assimilate into the mainstream; they iron their hair, forget their Spanish, and meet (and date) boys without chaperones.

This is a wonderfully entertaining look at the immigrant exper
...more
Amanda
Feb 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Karina
Sep 16, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was an entertaining, funny read about a family of six that escapes the Dominican Republic for a life in the United States in New York. The four girls, mother and father, left not by choice but because the dictator Trujillo was spying and trying to catch Carlos, who was a doctor and the father, in a compromising act against the government to jail him. They were also considered wealthy in the DR yet employment for Carlos was difficult in the US at first.

All the stories were good but they were n
...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
...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. ...more
Sarah
Jun 02, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Sara
Feb 28, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Karin
I have no idea why so many people call this a novel when it is a group of connected short stories. In fact, right near the beginning it notes that some of the stories had appeared before, slightly different, etc. This is why there isn't a plot or story line the same way there is in a novel.

I am not a fan of short stories, but Alvarez is a strong writer. I read this because I needed to read a book of short stories, and love the title and the description. However, I personally first got it becaus
...more
Kamila Kunda
Jul 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, own, usa
Julia Alvarez’s “How the García Girls Lost Their Accents” has spent many years on my bookshelf before I decided to reach for it while staying for one July week at my parents. It’s a hilarious story of four girls and their parents, who emigrated from Dominican Republic to the United States in 1960. The story is told in the reverse chronological order and starts with the girls already married.

I have a soft spot for immigrant stories and have read a fair number of them, especially about immigration
...more
Chris
Jan 26, 2010 rated it it was ok

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
Kristen
Sep 13, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Joanne
May 17, 2013 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
...more
Noureen Faliksher
Apr 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Carmen
Mar 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Laura sat across the table, the only one who seemed to be listening to him. Yoyo and her sisters were forgetting a lot of their Spanish, and their father’s formal, florid diction was hard to understand. But Laura smiled softly to herself, and turned the lazy Susan at the center of the table around and around as if it were the prime mover, the first gear of her attention.
Nadine Jones
May 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, era-1960s
This is unlike any book I've read before. Structurally, it's a collection of inter-connected short stories (which isn't the "unlike any book before" part), and instead of moving forward chronologically, the collection moves back in time. Each story takes place some time before the previous story. This is sort of like the Memento of novels! (Except without the murder and tattooes and amnesia.) This collection mimics the way you get to know someone: when you first meet them, you learn about the no ...more
Brigid ✩
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
...more
Sara
Jun 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the first books I ever read in college - was in an amazing course on 20th century female writers of color.
Sadia
Apr 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Elle
Aug 09, 2019 rated it did not like it
This book is possibly one of the most boring, brain-numbing, soul sucking stories I have ever read. I absolutely hate it. In fact, I made this account specifically to write a review on this garbage. If you can even give it the privilege of being called that. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, but in this case one man’s trash makes another man brain dead. I’m only 177 pages into this 313 page train wreck, and every fiber of my being is already cold with apathy. Reading this book is equiva ...more
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: https://www.wnba-centennial.org/book-...

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
...more
BookOfCinz
"How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents" is a novel about four girls Carla, Sophia, Sandra, and Yolanda who had to flee their home in Dominica to go to the US after their father was involved in a political coup. The book follows the lives of the four girls and their parents as they each get accustomed to life in New York.

While I liked the premise, I was a bit disappointed in the plot and character development. The book felt disjointed, it read more like a collection of short stories than an o
...more
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Julia Alvarez left the Dominican Republic for the United States in 1960 at the age of ten. She is the author of six novels, three books of nonfiction, three collections of poetry, and eleven books for children and young adults. She has taught and mentored writers in schools and communities across America and, until her retirement in 2016, was a writer-in-residence at Middlebury College. Her work h ...more

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