How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents

Julia Alvarez's novel mirrors the coming of age of four girls, who need to find their own voice, something between TRADITION and MODERNITY, the Island and Los Estados Unidos.

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents is great not necessarily because it portrays life both in the Dominican Republic and USA, but because of its structure. We may say that the novel is an entire flashback. It renders moments, events, episodes that lead to the girls' loss of 'accent'. It begins with some events from 1989-1972 (the 'present', when the girls are grown-ups), then goes back to their first years in USA (1970-1960) and the last part deals with the time before their departure (1960-1956). Each chapter has one (or more) focalizer, which is a sort of temporary narrator. But when it comes to the chapters that have more than one focalizer, then we have the same event seen from different perspectives. For example, the chapter entitled Daughter of Invention is merely about the girls' mother and the focalizers are Mami, Papi, Yoyo. When Yoyo tells the story, the girls's mother is referred to as Mami, but when she or her husband tell the story she becomes Laura. Apart from being a mother and a wife, she is a woman and one who emancipates, who fights for her independence and who is slowly Americanized.

Some have said that Yolando (or Yoyo) is closer to the author and even resembles her due to her fondness for writing. In the end of the novel Yoyo (or is it Julia Alvarez?!) states her literary creed: "There are still times I wake up at three o'clock in the morning and peer into the darkness. At that hour and in that loneliness, I hear her, a black furred thing lurking in the corners of my life, her magenta mouth opening, wailing over some violation that lies at the center of my art."

Alvarez's transition from the Dominican Republic to the United States was difficult; critic Silvio Sirias comments that she "lost almost everything: a homeland, a language, family connections, a way of understanding, and a warmth." (


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