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How the García Girls Lost Their Accents

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3.63  ·  Rating details ·  22,772 ratings  ·  1,616 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 ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published October 4th 2005 by Plume (first published January 4th 1991)
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Hannah Albracht Yes, there are. One of the sisters drawings seem to translate into real life events.…moreYes, there are. One of the sisters drawings seem to translate into real life events. (less)

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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
...more
Travis
Jan 06, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2008, young-adult
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 readers 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 some
...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
...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 ...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
...more
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
...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
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.
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 dont see why they have to focus on only negative experiences. Im 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, Id almost feel uncomfortable ...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.
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
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 Fathers participation in a political rebellion. Although this book depicts her real life quite well, I dont feel Julia does such a great job of getting her true emotions across by jumping from one story to another. Also, I find it
...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 ...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 ...more
Carmen
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 fathers 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.
...more
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 ...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
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 Alvarezs 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 ...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
...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
...more
Maree
Sep 11, 2017 rated it it was ok
I did not fall in love with this book. I'm not sure if some of it was that I was reading it on an airplane, but it was having a hard time keeping my attention and I had to kind of force my way through it. It was more like a series of vignettes in no particular order; often, when a story is told out of order, there is some reason for it, but I couldn't figure this one out. Also, as many others have noted, I had a hard time distinguishing between the four daughters. There were names and numbers by ...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 bookamazing writing, a believable and emotional story, great characters. It really sucked me in and gripped me the whole time.
...more
Kat (the_bookish_kat)
i had to read this book for school, and it was okay.

i really liked the writing style, and i liked the character development we see throughout the novel.

i didn't like the fact that each of the chapters were very episodic. none of them really fit together to tell an overarching plot. and we never really got to know the characters, just their stories, which is another thing that bothered me.

this book was okay, but i would recommend it if you're interested in reading it.
Danise
Jul 21, 2013 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.
Melissa
Apr 24, 2013 rated it did not like it
boo
Marcos
Feb 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A couple of years ago, I finished reading Julia Alvarezs 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 curriculums made up of classic and predominantly male oriented writers and works- namely at our school, Shakespeares Julius Caesar, Achebes Things Fall Apart and Steinbecks Of Mice and Men. I wanted to throw in a female writer in the mix- a novel worthy as a companion to Sophocles Antigone. When I finished ...more
Miriam Cihodariu
Sep 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The novel reads as a collection of short stories, not following an all-revealing line, but just separate episodes from the lives of one family. Because not everything is revealed, it makes you yearn for more and I, for one, was left really curious to find out more about some of the characters (the mom and the dad, for one).

The episodes are told through the lens of one of the 4 girls, or through the lens of the mother, or (in one case) through the eyes of an old female servant that has been in
...more
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Granger AP Reads: 1B Garcia Girls 2 10 Jan 09, 2020 06:54AM  
Play Book Tag: How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents - Julia Alvarez - 4 stars 6 29 Dec 11, 2019 04:41PM  

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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
...more

Articles featuring this book

In a year that seems to present new challenges for us at every turn, Julia Alvarez’s latest novel, Afterlife, has arrived at the perfect time.
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