My final thoughts on that good book!
Although one may think that in telling a story in a way that seems totally backwards, would defeat the purpose of the way a story should be told. However, I found that in the book How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, Alvarez’s use of strategically placing events from end to beginning helps illustrate to the reader the importance of one’s beginnings and the way that those times indefinitely affects your future. The opening of the text therefore makes the rest of the text almost an extended flashback to what got them to where they were by 1989.
Throughout the entire book there is a major emphasis on the Garcia’s status in the United States compared to the way they were used to living in the Dominican Republic. When on the island, the family had plenty of wealth, servants, a nice home that was connected to their beloved and large family, and were basically in the lap of luxury. Whereas in the States, their once high social and financial status is stripped away from them; scrambling to make ends meat, being disrespected by others, and no sense of family or belonging.
Within the beginning of the book, it seems that the girls’ mother was the most affected by the complete and drastic change that their lives had been forced to undergo. She was constantly sad when they first moved there, and felt that she needed to find a skill that would make her as important in the American society as she had been in her homeland. But in reading the rest of the text, it is shown within all of the Garcia’s that there is a vast difference between the way that they fit into the culture of the island and the way they seem to counter- fit into the culture in the United States.
In the case of Yolanda however, her character seems to make a complete circle in terms of where she begins, goes, and ends. The fact that Yolanda was one of the sister that found herself to be able of communicating in a good enough way in English that she felt comfortable in many interactions that her sisters, who could not imitate her use and technique of the language, could never feel. Yoyo finds herself contemplating staying on the island for good when she returns to it after five years in the beginning chapter, which is a plan of action that could easily be foreshadowed if the contents of the book ran in the correct chronological timing. One of the examples that support this idea that stood out the most to me is that of the kitten Yoyo named Schwarz in the section “The Drum.” In this chapter, Yoyo takes a young kitten from its nesting place with its brothers and sister, when a man shot his gun and scared away its mother. Because of being told by the same man that shot that gun, Yoyo was aware that taking an animal away from their mother at too young of an age can critically maim that kitten therefore making it a bad pet. Then when Yoyo is tired of the relentless “meowing” of the kitten she takes it out of her drum, and throws it back outside to find its own way back to the shed in which she had taken it from; it’s home.
Although the kitten disappears and may not have ever found its home again, here, the kitten can easily be symbolic of Yoyo, Sandra, Carla, and Fifi, being taken out of their native Dominican Republic and its culture at such a young age, and hurling them into the American culture that inevitably causes them to find themselves back in their island, just as Schwarz was trying to do.
This was a great book and I would definitely recommend it to anyone!