How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents

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Bloomsbury, 2004 - Bronx (New York, N.Y.) - 320 pages
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Uprooted from their family home in the Dominican Republic, the four Garcia sisters - Carla, Sandra, Yolanda, and Sofia - arrive in New York City in 1960 to find a life far different from the genteel existence of maids, manicures, and extended family they left behind. What they have lost - and what they find - is revealed in the fifteen interconnected stories that make up this exquisite novel from one of the premier novelists of our time.

Just as it is a feature of the immigrant experience to always look back, the novel begins with thirty-nine-year-old Yolanda's return to the island and moves magically backward in time to the final days before the exile that is to transform the sisters' lives. Along the way we witness their headlong plunge into the American mainstream. Although the girls try to distance themselves from their island life by ironing their hair, forgetting their Spanish, and meeting boys unchaperoned, they remain forever caught between the old world and the new. With bright humor and rare insight, Julia Alvarez vividly evokes the tensions and joys of belonging to two distinct cultures in a novel that is utterly authentic and full of irrepressible spirit.

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About the author (2004)

Julia Alvarez was born in New York City on March 27, 1950 and was raised in the Dominican Republic. Before becoming a full-time writer, she traveled across the country with poetry-in-the-schools programs and then taught at the high school level and the college level. In 1991, she earned tenure at Middlebury College and published her first book How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accent, which won the PEN Oakland/Jefferson Miles Award for excellence in 1991. Her other works include In the Time of the Butterflies, The Other Side of El Otro Lado, and Once upon a Quinceañera: Coming of Age in the USA.

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