It is not often that an author crosses genres successfully. But in the case of Julia Alvarez, one of my favorite authors, she had done so successfully and seamlessly. I first read her book, “How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents,” many, many years ago. The book, a story of the how the four Garcia sisters’ immigrated and assimilated in the United States from the Dominican Republic, is personal and political as Julia draws some of the contents from her own life while briefly discussing Dominican Republic’s politics. This book became my companion and source of comfort as I sought to define and redefine who I am as an immigrant to the United States.
So I was quite delighted to discover a few months ago Julia’s children’s book, “How Tia Lola Came to Stay.” The book, geared for tweens, talks about how an aunt from the Dominican Republic came to help out her recently divorced niece and two kids in Vermont. Throughout the book, there are humorous details of Tia Lola’s cross-cultural missteps as she tries to establish her new life in her new country.
Chiara and I read the book together. I explained to her Julia’s books and their significance in my life. I showed her a signed book from Julia back when Richard and I still lived in the city, pre-kids. We laughed and I cried as we read various parts of the book. Yes, I am one of those people who cry when I am moved by certain passages in a book.
I hope my daughters will have the same love for books and reading that I have. For me, books are a constant in my life, and they were many times the stabilizing force when my life needed a little anchoring. Do you also love books? Are there any books that changed you or left an indelible mark in your life?