Was Julia Alvarez effective in using reverse chronology to tell the story of How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While Julia Alvarez's work How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents has been praised for describing what is called the threshold experience of immigrants first entering their new countries, a time at which the recent past and the dreamed of future meet in the unformed present, there have also been critics of her choice of using reverse chronology. There is no definitive opinion as to the effectiveness of Alvarez's approach but there are two main camps of critical opinion.

The oppositional camp asserts that Alvarez's use of reverse chronology creates an unbalanced story without a sense of consistently well developed authorial or character voice. The camp of proponents of the effectiveness of Alvarez's choice assert that the unbalanced feel and the fragmented voice reinforce Alvarez's message about the fragmentation of self that accompanies immigration into a new country. The two camps of critics don't seem to disagree on the presence of imbalance and fragmentation of voice, they seem to only disagree as to the value and effectiveness of the said imbalance and fragmentation. They seemingly also disagree on authorial intention to create an unbalanced and fragmented work.

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