Abstract

One of the intellectual and emotional labors undertaken by children of immigrants is having to negotiate their place in between two different cultures. Existence in this in-between space is understandably challenging and is explored in Julia Alvarez’s How the García Girls Lost Their Accents, as the protagonist Yolanda and her sisters struggle to find themselves in between American and Dominican cultures. This article argues that memory plays a key role in navigating this space, as Alvarez constructs her semi-autobiographical work in reverse chronology, allowing Yolanda to work through the decision of where she believes she fits best using a series of flashbacks and memories from her own eyes and the eyes of other members of her family. While Marianne Hirsch theorizes that postmemory affects generations following those that experienced trauma, what Yolanda experiences differs. The trauma of navigating the “hyphen” of Dominican-American identity is her own, and it is through these memories, in addition to a focus on linguistic differences between English and Spanish that the girls struggle with, we follow Yolanda on her journey of self-discovery. What works such as Alvarez’s How the García Girls Lost Their Accents prove is that individuals have to find peace in an identity that is neither here nor there, ni de aquí ni de allá.

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