Yo!

Julia Alvarez

Published by Plume, 1997
ISBN 10: 0452279186 / ISBN 13: 9780452279186
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Synopsis: At last! A zesty, exuberant follow-up to the wildly popular How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, full of Julia Alvarez's keen observations and tender affection for her characters.

The Garcia Girls are back, most notably Yolanda, or Yo, who has grown up to be a writer. In the process, she has managed to get kicked out of college, break more than a few hearts, have her own heart broken many times, return for extended visits to the Dominican Republic her family fled when she was a child, and marry three times. She has also infuriated her entire family by publishing the intimate details of their lives as fiction.

The injured parties--her mother, her sisters, the Dominican cousins, the maid?s daughter, her teachers, her lover, want to tell their side of the story, and !Yo! hands the microphone to them. Cousin Lucinda shrugs off Yo's characterization of her as a "Latin American Barbie" with "a size three soul," saying, "Looking at her in her late 30s, knocking around the world without a husband, house, or children, I think you are the haunted one who ended up living your life mostly on paper."

This brilliant novel is a full and true exploration of a woman's soul, a meditation on the writing life, and a lyrical account of the immigrant's search for identity and a place in the world. !Yo!'s bright colors, zesty dialogue, warm feeling, and genuine insight could only come from the palette of Julia Alvarez.

Review: The heroine of Julia Alvarez's Yo! is an author who writes what she knows--much to the chagrin of her close-knit immigrant family. During the first chapter, one of Yolanda (Yo) Garcia's sisters explains the basic problem: "I always was a reader, but now, whenever I open a book, even if it's something by someone dead, all I can do is shake my head and think oh my god, I wonder what their family thought of this story." Yo's friends and family members, many of whom appeared in Alvarez's earlier novel, How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, take turns narrating this book. They draw a vivid portrait of the writer, describing her big mouth and high-strung nature as well as the details of her youth in the Dominican Republic. They're often more keenly aware of class, gender, and racial divisions than is Yo herself. When Yo returns to the Dominican Republic to spend a summer reconnecting with her roots, for instance, the servants at the family estate regard her as a very strange (but likeable) foreigner. In another segment, Yo's landlord, whose husband beats her, describes the writer's efforts to save her from the abusive relationship. In these episodes and others, Yo comes across as a woman who doesn't quite fathom the complexity of the events going on around her but has so much good will and verve that people forgive her small transgressions. It is a pleasure to hear all these diverse voices; some are funny, some wistful, but all of them seem to think Yolanda Garcia is the bee's knees. Yo! is a thoughtful, entertaining novel about the immigrant experience and the impact writers have on the lives of their peers. --Jill Marquis

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Yo!
Publisher: Plume
Publication Date: 1997
Binding: Paperback
Book Condition: Used: Good

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