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How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents

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on 13 January 2014

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Transcript of How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents

by Julia Alvarez

Julia Alvarez
Julia Alvarez was born on March 27, 1950, in New York City, New York. The theme of being caught between two cultures can be found throughout her work. She explored this cultural divide in her first novel, How the García Girls Lost Their Accents, which was published in 1991. Several more acclaimed works of fiction have followed. Her work has accumulated wide recognition, including the 2000 Woman of the Year by Latina magazine, the 2002 Hispanic Heritage Award in Literature, and the Latina Leader Award in Literature in 2007 from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute . A writer-in-residence at Middlebury College, Alvarez and her husband, Bill Eichner, established Café Alta Gracia, an organic coffee farm–literacy arts center, in her native country, the Dominican Republic.

Background of the Novel
This first novel of Julia Alvarez tells the story (in reverse chronological order) of four sisters and their family, as they become Americanized after fleeing the Dominican Republic in the 1960s. Adapting to American life is difficult and causes embarrassment when friends meet their parents, anger as they are bullied and called "spics," and identity confusion following summer trips to the family compound in the Dominican Republic. The sisters fare better but grow up conscious, like all immigrants, of living in two worlds. There is no straightforward plot; rather, vignettes (often exquisite short stories in their own right) featuring one or more of the sisters—Carla, Sandra, Yolanda, and Sofia—at various stages of growing up are strung together in a smooth, readable story. These interconnected vignettes of family life, resilience, and love are skillfully intertwined and offer young adults a perspective on immigration and families as well as a look at America through Hispanic eyes. This is a novel that will enchant and captivate readers.


Reasons to Read
"This is a captivating book. It has many interesting and mind boggling scenes. In my opinion it is motivating. It helps to understand where many people come from and how the pressure of fitting in can change someone from who they really are." —Ashley Beaudry

"This book is an amazing book to read it has a lot of connections with young people and an understanding of what the Garcia Girls go through in their daily lives."
—Destiny McEwan

"This book is told in reverse chronological order, meaning the book starts off with the Garcia Girls as adults and ends with them in their childhoods. I was actually drawn into the book, even though it's about a group of sisters. This basically means a general audience can read it. With the way the vignettes (short stories) in the book are portrayed, you can easily put yourselves in the shoes of the characters. This opens up your imagination, which in turn, allows you to create vivid scenes in correlation of the stories."
—Brian Usman

Critics
"Simply Wonderful."

Los Angeles Times


"A joy to read."

The Cleveland Plain Dealer


"Poignant . . . Powerful . . . Beautifully captures the threshold experience of the new immigrant, where the past is not yet a memory.”

The New York Times Book Review


"Subtle . . . Powerful . . . Reveals the intricacies of family, the impact of culture and place, and the profound power of language."

The San Diego Tribune



"A clear-eyed look at the insecurity and yearning for a sense of belonging that are a part of the immigrant experience . . . Movingly told."

The Washington Post Book World




Presentation by
Ashley Beaudry
Mac'kysianee Edwards
Destiny McEwan
Brian Usman
Period 5
Julia Alvarez
Born on March 27, 1950 in New York City
Dominican
Wrote 8 books
Won several awards
Currently a writer at Middlebury College
Opened an organic coffee farm–literacy arts center with her husband in the Dominican Republic

Intro and Analysis of the Four Sisters
Pictures of the girls don't exist.
So New York and the Dominican Republic are used as replacements :D

Carla
Carla is the oldest of the Garcia sisters. She felt most out of place in the United States and had the most trouble fitting in to her new social and cultural environment. She was harassed at school by malicious and prejudiced boys, and felt isolated by her limited English language abilities. Her discomfort with puberty heightened by an encounter with a perverted American exhibitionist in a car. She dealt with these issues later in life by becoming a psychologist and analyzing her family's myriad mental problems.

Carla
Carla is the oldest of the Garcia sisters. She felt most out of place in the United States and had the most trouble fitting in to her new social and cultural environment. She was harassed at school by malicious and prejudiced boys, and felt isolated by her limited English language abilities. Her discomfort with puberty heightened by an encounter with a perverted American exhibitionist in a car. She dealt with these issues later in life by becoming a psychologist and analyzing her family's myriad mental problems.

Sandra
Sandra is the second oldest daughter. Her artistic abilities were frustrated as a child by poor art instruction and a terrible fall which badly broke her arm. She felt stifled as a child by her parents' desires to fit into American culture and was criticized for expressing her own needs or hopes. She grew disillusioned with American virtue after watching a drunk woman kiss her father. Her inability to express herself artistically or personally led to an eventual mental breakdown, characterized by her belief that she was moving backward through evolution and was losing her humanity. This loss of humanity symbolizes her loss of artistic inspiration and a sense of her own unique identity.

Yolanda
Yolanda is the third oldest daughter whom got herself into trouble as a child. Once in the United States, she had difficulty interacting with men in sexual and romantic situations, and eventually divorced her husband, John. This heartbreak led to a mental breakdown and the inability to use language in a meaningful way. This was a traumatic experience since language was a particularly important part of her life as a poet. She returned to the Dominican Republic after her divorce in order to reconnect to her cultural roots, though she finds she has forgotten her Spanish and sticks out culturally. When faced with a suspenseful situation, such as car trouble at night in the middle of nowhere, she feels most comfortable in her identity as an English speaking American woman, rather than a Dominican immigrant.

Sofia
Sofia is the youngest daughter of the Garcia family. Her wild and rebellious streak came out during her adolescence, when she challenged her father's authority and ran away to Germany to marry her husband, Otto. As she got older, she had "non-stop boyfriends," ran off with Otto from Germany, and developed a tense, and at times, openly hostile relationship with her father. After a failed relationship with a Dominican boyfriend, she embraces American attitudes toward sexual relationships. She challenges sexual double standards that she finds to be more pronounced in traditional Dominican culture and claims her sexual independence. She and her father begin to reconcile when she had her children, but at his birthday party she continues to flaunt her sexuality and his powerlessness to control it by kissing his ear in a particularly seductive way.
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