Monday, June 24, 2013

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents

1991, 1992 Plume edition
Julia Alvarez
How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents
Original and purchase price unknown
Worn paperback

This is often compared to Amy Tan's Joy Luck Club, focusing as it does on daughters and emigration to America, with interlinked stories forming a novel.  I think it's about as good, although it's grittier and lacks the fairy-tale-like quality of Club.  The novel moves backwards, starting in 1989, ending in 1956, although each story looks back to the then-past.  The Garcias are well-to-do in the Dominican Republic but the four little girls and their parents must move to the U.S. for political reasons.  The girls lose their accents and to some degree their identities, as they struggle to reconcile culture clash, especially in the late '60s and early '70s.  Yolanda is featured most prominently (and is the subject of the 1997 sequel Yo!, which I've never read), but her sisters and their mother get their turns as well.  (I could've done without the POV of a cradle-robbing CIA agent.)  I most enjoyed Mamí's inventions of things like the wheeled suitcase.

On maybe the fourth time reading this book, I didn't find the backwards chronology a problem.  (I did once read the stories "in order," which makes for a very different book.)  However, I was annoyed that the youngest sister Fifi's age fluctuates so much.

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