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Yo! Paperback – December 1, 1997
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The heroine of Julia Alvarez's Yo! is an author who writes what she knows--much to the chagrin of her close-knit immigrant family. During the first chapter, one of Yolanda (Yo) Garcia's sisters explains the basic problem: "I always was a reader, but now, whenever I open a book, even if it's something by someone dead, all I can do is shake my head and think oh my god, I wonder what their family thought of this story." Yo's friends and family members, many of whom appeared in Alvarez's earlier novel, How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, take turns narrating this book. They draw a vivid portrait of the writer, describing her big mouth and high-strung nature as well as the details of her youth in the Dominican Republic. They're often more keenly aware of class, gender, and racial divisions than is Yo herself. When Yo returns to the Dominican Republic to spend a summer reconnecting with her roots, for instance, the servants at the family estate regard her as a very strange (but likeable) foreigner. In another segment, Yo's landlord, whose husband beats her, describes the writer's efforts to save her from the abusive relationship. In these episodes and others, Yo comes across as a woman who doesn't quite fathom the complexity of the events going on around her but has so much good will and verve that people forgive her small transgressions. It is a pleasure to hear all these diverse voices; some are funny, some wistful, but all of them seem to think Yolanda Garcia is the bee's knees. Yo! is a thoughtful, entertaining novel about the immigrant experience and the impact writers have on the lives of their peers. --Jill Marquis
About the Author
Julia Alvarez is the author of the novels How the García Girls Lost Their Accents, In the Time of the Butterflies (a national Book Critics Circle Award finalist), and Yo!. She has also published two poetry collections (Homecoming and The Other side/El Otro Lado) and a collection of essays (Something to Declare).