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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Remarkable story of Culture and Values
The book How the Garcia Girls Lost their Accents was a very remarkable story. It was a story about four girls and their struggles when they went from their homeland to America. This book symbolizes the tragedy and heartwarming stories people go through when they switch their country and heritage. The four girls change dramatically in this story. They rebel against...
Published on 17 Feb. 1999

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Merging into a different culture
This book presents the experiences of four hispanic sisters as they try to adapt to life in the United States. They soon realize much of what they knew and believed is no longer existent. Since the book is divided in several small stories that go from present time to the past, it does not really provide a clear picture of the different characters. The message is...
Published on 25 Mar. 1999


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Remarkable story of Culture and Values, 17 Feb. 1999
By A Customer
The book How the Garcia Girls Lost their Accents was a very remarkable story. It was a story about four girls and their struggles when they went from their homeland to America. This book symbolizes the tragedy and heartwarming stories people go through when they switch their country and heritage. The four girls change dramatically in this story. They rebel against everything that society has taught them, and that there parents had taught them, they started to embrace America and everything it has to offer. Julia Alvarex shows each of the pro's and con's of America and the Dominican Republic. Julia Alvarez also shows the gender roles and how they are important in the book, also the gender roles change when they were in one country to the next. Julia Alvarex wrote this book to reflect her own expierences. She shows how being "Americanized" can be both good and bad. This is a great book and helps people understand the culture that exists between 2 different countries.:-)
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Merging into a different culture, 25 Mar. 1999
By A Customer
This book presents the experiences of four hispanic sisters as they try to adapt to life in the United States. They soon realize much of what they knew and believed is no longer existent. Since the book is divided in several small stories that go from present time to the past, it does not really provide a clear picture of the different characters. The message is nonetheless conveyed, as one can integrate and recognize the experiences of the sisters as those of the hispanic collective in the States.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Immigration-lite, 1 July 2009
By 
Sofia (Bristol, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents (Paperback)
There is an increasing amount of fiction that deals with the immigrant experience and "How the Garcia Girls Lost their Accents" is a perfectly readable example. As the title suggests, it seeks to explain how four girls from the Dominican Republic have grown into liberally-minded, feminist, English-speaking Americans.

Essentially, this is a novel comprised of a series of short stories that flit both between the four girls and the lives of their parents. The stories are notionally held together by the central concept of time in reverse - hence we start with one of the daughters returning to the Dominican Republic as an adult, struggling with her Spanish and work back to the family's original reason for leaving. Whilst this works to a certain extent, the lack of definition between the sisters, did make the characters and stories blur slightly for me. Equally, the story going backwards did remove some of the dramatic tension as, by definition, the reader already knows what happened next.

It's also worth noting, that while a lot of immigration fiction focuses on flight, on desperation, on eeking a new life in unfamiliar circumstances, Alvarez's novel operates on a different financial level. There is political tension and a new life with a loss of status, but this is a rare thing; a wealthy immigration tale, dealing ultimately with very middle-class, suburban, family issues.

Thus, this is a easy read, safe to give as a present to a relative and appealing enough to recommend to friends, but I would have liked more character definition, more detail and a little more substance.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Between Two Cultures, 18 Feb. 2013
By 
Kate Hopkins (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents (Paperback)
I must say that my feelings about this novel were largely coloured by the final chapter, which included a very unpleasant (and gratuitous) incident with a cat that upset me a lot and led to me getting rid of the book shortly after. This was a pity, as there was a lot to enjoy in this skilful story of immigration. And anyone who's not as fanatical about cats as I am might not find the last chapter mattered so much.

The Garcia girls - Carla, Sandra (Sandi), Yolanda (YoYo) and Sofia (Fifi) grow up in the Dominican Republic in a wealthy household, but their idyllic childhood comes to an end when their doctor father is threatened by the Trujillo dictatorship and the family is forced to move to New York. In New York, the sisters try to adapt to the American way of life in the Swinging 1960s and politically and socially conscious 1970s, to the suspicion of their very traditional father. The girls end up leading very different lives. All four marry, three get divorced, two (Sandi and Yolanda) have breakdowns. The youngest, Sofia, marries a German, and thus incurs her father's everlasting suspicion. Yolanda becomes a writer and later a university teacher. And, however American they try to be, to a greater or lesser degree all the sisters feel the pull back to their beloved Island, and the life they left there, and their memories will not leave them.

Alvarez tells the story in 'reverse order' - the first part deals with the Garcia girls as adults, including Yolanda's return to the Dominican Republic to visit family, Sofia's relationship with her German husband, and Sandi and Yoyo's breakdowns; the second with their teenage and childhood experiences in the US, going further back in time with each chapter; and the final section with their memories of the Dominican Republic, starting with the decision to leave the island and going back through to early memories of Sandi and Yolanda - almost as if Alvarez is making the point that early childhood has proved the prime factor in shaping the girls' lives. The structure is very loose, almost as though the book is a series of linked short stories about the same characters, rather than a novel. There are some beautiful sections. Alvarez is also a poet, and this is apparent in her sumptuous descriptive language, particularly when she describes the Dominican Republic, and childhood memories. There are also some memorable scenes, including Yolanda's return to her native country and visit to elderly relatives, Yolanda's memories of her mother's attempts to become an inventor in their early days in New York, a birthday party the girls throw for their elderly father and Sandi's memories of childhood and of when she saw a sculptor at work in his studio. The narrative flicks between sisters and alights on certain points in their lives, missing a great deal out, and for me this was a major weakness in the book. I felt that the four sisters never quite got defined as individuals (except perhaps Yolanda, who Alvarez went on to write another book about) and that we never learnt quite enough about any of them or how their lives turned out. Carla and Fifi, in particular, were quite thinly defined and Alvarez only focused on them briefly. I also found that the 'reverse order' narrative left the book feeling slightly unfinished - for me, I would have liked a return to the present at the end to tie the story together. However, I did find that Alvarez's depictions of immigrant life in New York, and of four girls trying to adapt to a very different culture to their birth one, were moving and convincing, and I found the information about the Dominican Republic (about which I knew little) fascinating. I also liked the loving relationship (despite Carlos Garcia's conservatism) between the girls and their parents. An interesting read in all, and a quick one - I read it in a day - but I suspect there may be more content, and more detail of character in Alvarez's later novels, two of which are on my 'to read' pile.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A truly enjoyable book - fun!, 10 Aug. 1999
By A Customer
I was first drawn to this book because the author is a female Latin-American writer. I have read some male authors (Marquez for one) and was completely swept away. But still I wished for a female perspective.
It would be unfair to compare "How the Garcia Girls.." with "A Thousand Years of Solitude" head to head because Ms. Alvarez is not attempting to write a saga or a great(long) novel here. Her stories are to be eaten like M&M's, singly or in a hnadful.
Ms. Alvarez's style is emminently readable. And the stories are quite engaging. I think it is a mistake to ask this to be a "novel" in the traditional sense. Many of the chapters first appeared as short stories and stand on their own. As a collection, they are like thumbing backwards through a photo album where we stop and relive/experience the story behind a moment.
If I have any criticism of this book is that I didn't feel I got to know each sister equally well, or rather, as well as I would have liked. But all in all I felt for the sisters, especially as they grew younger and relished the details of place and custom and family. It seems so personal I felt it must be somewhat autobiographical.
I recommend this highly.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read for a person trying a new sort of literature!, 17 Feb. 1999
By A Customer
This book was an inquisitive look on moving from one culture to another. This shows an interesting look at American culture as a new, undiscovered place. While moving backward in time, it shows that people can adjust to a new culture. While doing this, the book shows that even as children, people can learn to adjust to great change in their lifestyles. I suggest this book to people who are trying any sort of new literature!
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4.0 out of 5 stars It is a great story of immigrants liveing in America., 3 Jan. 1999
By A Customer
How the Garcia Girls Lost their Accents by Julia Alvaraz If books that reflect on human life and reality seem to lure you, grab this book and relive the life of a family of immigrants as they barely sneak past the guards that were running the island they came from in How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents. This book takes you back from when one of the daughters visits the island, through adjusting to their new life, new language, and new customs, all the way back to their last days on the island. Sandi is institutionalized and falls in love with her doctor, Yolanda turns into a poet and a teacher, and almost gets her father killed back on the island, Carla was almost sexually molested and became a psychiatrist, and Fifi runs away to marry Otto, a German scientist, and tries to repair her relationship with her father. To experience the life of immigrants trying to make it in America, look in the bookstores for How the Garcia Girls Lost their Accents by Julia Alvaraz
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5.0 out of 5 stars A LATINA WRITER WINS ONCE AGAIN!, 15 Jun. 1998
By A Customer
I heard much about this novel and finally settled down to see what all the reviews were about. I really enjoyed this book and was amazed, which I shouldn't have been, about the island similarities to Puerto Rico. I believe every 1st and 2nd generations from countries, their parents homeland, can easily identify with Alvarez.Latino or not. I immediately read YO! the contined story of the Garcia Girls with the main focus on Yolanda. She did an excellent job in flashbacks and working her knowledge of the Domican regime with the Domican Republic realities. The runner up would be the world through the YOUNG Garcia girls and how they learned what it was to be Domican and American. I would definately recommend this book to those who can appreciate the sacredness of our cultural knowledge. --Sandra Concepcion, Age 20
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Book of How American can change someone, 16 Feb. 1999
By A Customer
The book How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents was a great book about the American expierence. These 4 girls left their homeland of the Dominican Republic and went to America. They disobeyed thier old-world discipline, and went to America, and found who they truly were. America changed the four girls, into people that their parents never thought they would be. This novel compares to the "Joy Luck Club" there are many similiarities. This novel shows how *Americainizing* girls can be good and bad. There are humorous stories and some very seroius stories. This is a great book and everyone should read this book, to get a feel for what it is really like to come to America from a foreign country, and the expierences, and issues people have to deal with....Great Book:-)
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4.0 out of 5 stars Easy-to-read, but not as good as "Butterflies", 11 Jan. 1999
By A Customer
After happening upon "In the Time of the Butterflies", I was delighted to find another Latin author who could mesmerize me as Gabriel Garcia Marquez had continued to do over the past 25 years. But after finally pulling this book off my shelf, I soon learned it could not hold a candle to "Butterflies" in its character development and story thread. I found the characters all blurred together and failed to distinguish themselves from one another and although the backward development of the story was unique, it was a bit confusing if I put the book down with more than a few days in between. All-in-all, I enjoyed this book, but encourage readers to continue on with "Butterflies" for a real treat.
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How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents
How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez (Paperback - 20 Sept. 2004)
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