Book Review: How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents


garcia_girlsIf you have ever experienced the sorrow of leaving a familiar place but embraced the wonder of going somewhere new, settling down to read How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents (“Garcia Girls”) will be like meeting an old friend with new stories to tell.  Garcia Girls is an original novel written with honesty and creativity.  The story follows four sisters- Carla, Sandra, Yolanda, and Sofia- as they transform from wide-eyed girls into independent ladies.  The Garcia girls are down-to-earth and easy to relate to throughout the book.  With Alvarez’s ability
to pull you into a story, you will find yourself sighing, sobbing, and laughing with the Garcias as they leave the Dominican Republic and adjust to their new home, the United States.  As charming as the four sisters may be, the story would not be complete without Laura and Carlos, the girls’ parents, and Chucha.  Laura is a strong character that is essential to the girls’ development, though her daughters often see her as tiresome and old-fashioned.  She is comforting when her family is troubled, proud when she brags to others of her daughters, and both brilliant and inspiring when she tries her hand at inventing.  Carlos, the girls’ father, is equally impressionable as a character.  He supplies many laughs and is reminiscent of many overprotective fathers.  The last character that I will mention is Chucha, the Garcia family’s house maid in the Dominican Republic.  Chucha is one of the most eccentric people in the book.  She sleeps in a purple lined coffin, casts spells on those that anger her, and quarrels with most of the other servants.  Her history explains her strange habits, though.  Chucha came to the Garcia family when she was young and fleeing from Trujillo, who declared that all black Haitians in the Dominican Republic were to be killed.  Laura’s father (Laura was not yet born) took Chucha in as a maid.  Often bitter and bickering, she reminds others of how she had changed Laura’s diapers.  These are not the only  unusual characters in the book.  If you read Garcia Girls you will also meet a slick college boy, a shifty maid, and a charming psychologist.  You will also follow two Garcia girls as they go insane; discover why Carlos shuns his daughter, Sofia; and watch one of the Garcia girls return to the Dominican Republic.  Because of some mature content, I would recommend this book to people who are at least fifteen years old.  Garcia Girls has been awarded the PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Award and named as a Notable Book of 1991.  Julia Alvarez has also received awards for her other novels.  If you enjoy How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents you will also like In the Time of the Butterflies, The Other Side, Homecoming, and ¡Yo! also by Julia Alvarez. You do not need to worry about having to buy these books, though, because you can check these books out at the Moline Public Library.

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