Synopses & Reviews
“Simply wonderful.” —Los Angeles Times
Acclaimed writer Julia Alvarez’s brilliant and buoyant and beloved first novel gives voice to four sisters recounting their adventures growing up in two cultures. Selected as a Notable Book by both the New York Times and the American Library Association, it won the PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Award for books with a multicultural perspective and was chosen by New York librarians as one of twenty-one classics for the twenty-first century. Ms. Alvarez was recently honored with the 2013 National Medal of Arts for her extraordinary storytelling.
In this debut novel, the García sisters—Carla, Sandra, Yolanda, and Sofía—and their family must flee their home in the Dominican Republic after their father’s role in an attempt to overthrow a tyrannical dictator is discovered. They arrive in New York City in 1960 to a life far removed from their existence in the Caribbean. In the wild and wondrous and not always welcoming U.S.A., their parents try to hold on to their old ways, but the girls try find new lives: by forgetting their Spanish, by straightening their hair and wearing fringed bell bottoms. For them, it is at once liberating and excruciating to be caught between the old world and the new. How the García Girls Lost Their Accents sets the sisters free to tell their most intimate stories about how they came to be at home—and not at home—in America.
“A joy to read.” —The Cleveland Plain Dealer
It's a long way from Santo Domingo to the Bronx, but if anyone can go the distance, it's the Garcia girls. Four lively Latinas plunge from a pampered life of privilege on an island compound into the big-city chaos of New York, where they embrace all that America has to offer.
The Garcías — Dr. Carlos (Papi), his wife Laura (Mami), and their four daughters, Carla, Sandra, Yolanda, and Sofía — belong to the uppermost echelon of Spanish Caribbean society, descended from the conquistadores. Their family compound adjoins the palacio
of the dictator's daughter. So when Dr. García's part in a coup attempt is discovered, the family must flee.
They arrive in New York City in 1960 to a life far removed from their existence in the Dominican Republic. Papi has to find new patients in the Bronx. Mami, far from the compound and the family retainers, must find herself. Meanwhile, the girls try to lose themselves — by forgetting their Spanish, by straightening their hair and wearing fringed bell bottoms. For them, it is at once liberating and excruciating being caught between the old world and the new, trying to live up to their father's version of honor while accommodating the expectations of their American boyfriends. Acclaimed writer Julia Alvarez's brilliant and buoyant first novel sets the García girls free to tell their most intimate stories about how they came to be at home — and not at home — in America.
About the Author
Alvarez is a poet and fiction writer. She teaches creative writing and literature at Middlebury College.