The four Garcia sisters – Carla, Sandra, Yolanda, and Sofia – flee the Dominican Republic for New York City after their father is involved in an attempted coup. In the Dominican, they were part of a broad, wealthy, and extended family, abounding in cousins and aunts and uncles, their lives looped and overlapping. In America they begin with nothing, their father required to rebuild his entire career.
The book works backward, introducing the sisters as adults so that we see who they become – and how their relationships grow and fracture. Eventually, the stories work their way in reverse to the point where the girls are very young, still living in the Dominican Republic, with just a hint of the unrest to come.
I say stories because not only does the novel not follow a linear timeline but it doesn’t really follow a plot either. Different chapters and sections focus on different sisters at different times in their lives. Despite this, the book doesn’t feel fragmented or confusing. We get to know each of the sisters as well as their parents and a wide variety of their relatives. They each feel distinct and knowable. The book is easy to read because we want to know these characters better. I wanted to see them interact with each other. This is definitely a book that left me wanting more.
4 thoughts on “Book Review: How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez”
I read this book so long ago that I remember nothing of it other than I didn’t feel emotionally invested. To be fair, I had read Caramelo right before it.
The large amount of characters and the way it jumps between time and stories does make it harder to feel deeply connected to any of the characters. I was interested to keep reading and find out what happened but you’re right, I didn’t feel deeply invested.
I know you said it’s an easy read, but it sounds really difficult to follow! haha I just personally don’t like reading a book that jumps back and forth in time, but some authors can make it work, and it sounds like she is one of them 😉
It has a family tree at the beginning and I definitely referred to it a few times but it wasn’t too hard to follow. She did well at quickly establishing the time and place of each section.