Nina's Reading Blog

Comments on books I am reading/listening to

How the García Girls Lost Their AccentsAlthough the bo

Posted by nliakos on March 14, 2015

by Julia Alvarez (original pub. by Algonquin Books, 1991; I read it on my phone, and I have no idea who published that)

This is essentially a book of short stories, all about four sisters (Carla, Sandi, Yolanda, and Sofia) from the Dominican Republic who immigrate to the United States with their parents to escape the Trujillo regime. At home in the Dominican Republic, they live lives of privilege, with numerous servants; in the U.S., they have to learn a new language and culture; they encounter the typical problems of immigrants, including prejudice. The book is divided into three sections: Part 3 concerns their life on the island prior to emigration (1956-1960); Part 2 focuses on their early post-immigrant lives in the U.S. (1960-1970); and in Part 1 they are grown up (1972-1989). As you can see, the book is arranged in reverse chronological order (like a blog?). Within each part, different stories are about different sisters; they are often narrated by the sisters themselves. Although the book is fictional, I suppose it is in some ways autobiographical, as the author’s life mirrors that of the García sisters in some ways. Though born in New York, she lived in the D.R. until the age of 10 and then returned to the U.S.

I enjoyed the stories, but reading an e-book is not my favorite thing. I feel like I am strapped into a car, speeding past different people and events, without the possibility to returning to where I have been to straighten things out in my mind. I know it’s possible to go back, but either it’s not convenient, or I haven’t figured out how to do it right; all I know is that when I am reading an e-book, I don’t go back, whereas when reading a regular book, I go back often to remind myself of details that have slipped my mind or that I didn’t pay enough attention to, not knowing I would need to remember them later.

Anyway, I enjoyed the book and was glad to have it when I was on the bus or in a waiting room without my book.

Advanced language learners, especially those from Caribbean or Hispanic countries, would probably enjoy this.

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