Two weeks until graduation and I somehow still have had time to (mostly) devour two books, both of which I got from the library when I knew I shouldn’t have. But the high quality of these two books makes up for any time I maybe should have spent doing something else.
How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents follows four sisters from the Dominican Republic who are forced to move to New York with their families in 1960 due to political strife. Told from the perspective of all four girls, in 15 separate but intertwined stories, the story is written in backwards chronological order. Secrets alluded to in the first few stories are slowly revealed as you read through the chapters, as the girls get younger. With every chapter, you understand a little more.
It took me a chapter or two to really get into this book, because the first chapter has so many inside jokes and allusions you just don’t know about yet. But the writing is incredible. Alvarez does an amazing job of making the characters realistic as they get younger. The way their understanding of the world changes throughout the book is fascinating, and each story intertwines a little more with the next until finally, at the end, the story is complete. This is one I would love to study in a classroom setting, or in a book club. This is a book that needs to be discussed and relished. It was unlike anything I’ve read before, and unlike many of the books that draw my eye, it is one that can be read multiple times without getting too predictable. There will always be something else to pick up on.
The Namesake is about a boy named Gogol whose family moves to the US from Calcutta. Gogol is the main character, but the book follows his parents just as much as it tells his story. It’s a growing up novel, but with a wide perspective. It’s very similar to books by Alan Brennert in that the scope of the novel is very wide, focusing on many decades and many people. But it is not overwhelming. It’s written in a comforting, quiet tone that immediately makes you feel as if you are part of the Ganguli family. I haven’t quite finished it at the time this will post, but it is one that I can tell will have an impact. The style is also somewhat reminiscent of The Kite Runner, except not as sad. I also realized that this book has been made into a movie, so it is definitely one I’ll have to try to find and watch.
There you have it — a shorter what I’m reading post than usual, but two books that come very highly recommended. It doesn’t really matter if these are your favorite genre or not — if you like books with good writing, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy these.