Set in New York City and the Dominican Republic, Julia Alvarez’s novel traces the lives of the four García sisters—Carla, Sandra, Yolanda, and Sofia—as they struggle to understand themselves and their cross-cultural identities. The novel is structured in three parts, focusing on the time spans of 1989-1972, 1970-1960, and 1960-1956. Throughout these years the García girls mature and face various cultural, familial, and individual crises. The sisters’ mother, Laura, comes from the well-known, wealthy de la Torres family, who live in the Dominican Republic. The third part of the novel narrates the Garcías’ flight from their homeland due to political problems within the country.
The Garcías emigrate to the United States, planning to stay only until the situation in their homeland improves. Once arriving in America, the sisters struggle to acclimate themselves to their new environment. The second part of the novel traces the sisters’ formative years in the United States. Included among the numerous stories told are Yolanda’s struggle to write an acceptable speech for a school event, Carla’s trial of attending a new public school where she is bombarded by racial slurs, and Sandra’s hatred of an American woman who flirts with her father during a family night out. In addition, part 2 narrates the García girls’ summer trips to the Dominican Republic—their parents’ way to keep them from becoming too Americanized. During these trips the...
(The entire section is 438 words.)