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How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents Paperback – January 12, 2010
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The book is comprised of a series of related vignettes that move backwards in time. They are written with such a degree of verisimilitude that I suspect they are largely autobiographical. Some of the vignettes are more interesting than others. I personally enjoyed "The Rudy Elmenhurst Story" and "Daughter of Invention" best. Others struck me as superfluous fluff - a quick way to add padding to a few really well-written essays so the whole lot could get published as a novel.
When I finished the book, I felt neither inspired nor annoyed. It was entertaining at times, boring at others. It certainly wasn't a waste of time, but I doubt I'll remember it in a year. Upon finishing the last page, I just blinked a few times and put it back on the shelf.
The Garcia family lived a rather lavish lifestyle in the Dominican Republic, but when troubles came up between Carlos disagreeing with the military dictatorship, they were left with the option to escape. Alvarez presents problems mostly centered around cultural differences. Ranging from language barriers to Carlos and Laura quickly inferring their girls need to be sent to mental hospitals, there is an obvious gap between the way of live the parents know of compared to the girls.
How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents is not the easiest book to read and comprehend fully. As I have briefly mentioned, there are stories from various points in their lives from when they are young, to when they are married and have kids. As I did enjoy the original layout of the book moving back in time, it sometimes was easy to forget what the point of the plot exactly was since it was a combination of many stories not necessarily relating to one another. Due to knowledge about the book prior to reading, I was able to connect the dots before those parts were actually stated in the chapters. Additionally, I wish as though some of the stories delved further into detail enabling the audience to understand and feel more empathy with each individual character. It jumped around so much, it was hard to remember which sister was who since they all dealt with very serious problems at some point throughout their life whether that was anorexia, or not being in contact with their Dad for a long period of time. In my opinion, it would helpful if the book and it’s stories were generally organized by character. Considering the root of the book stemmed from the family needing to flee the Dominican Republic, I felt Alvarez was lacking historical context to provide the readers. I personally thought the novel would consist of more history leading up to their escape to set the scene for an attention grabbing section.
I was expecting a certain kind of ending where Alvarez would leave the audience with a shocking piece of news considering the book remained pretty steady in terms of my reactions and emotions to events, yet I was pretty disappointed with the ending. I did realize I had finished it, I suppose the point of the book was to lay out short stories and have the audience put the puzzle pieces together, but I wouldn’t say there was one point when I was really engaged with the plot over another, feeling like the book could have had more substance to it. In brief, even though the book did not entirely meet my expectations, I still thought How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez was fascinating to hear a real-life story about migrants from the Dominican Republic having to familiarize themselves with the culture of the United States.
Most recent customer reviews
This book goes in reverse (which I didn’t totally get until the end), but carries a specific plot in the middle
I almost prefer vignettes or a...Read more