How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents

by: Julia Alvarez

Yolanda

Yolanda was the tomboy of the family and got herself into trouble as a child. She is haunted by the memory of a kitten that she kidnapped from its mother, as well as the fear she felt as the family struggled to leave the Dominican Republic. 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 particularly 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 challenging 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. She is the sister who most enjoys taking on the role of storyteller, and she hopes to unfold the past to better understand the trauma that underlies the various struggles of the entire family.