MY BOOK WORLD
A lovely and memorable book. In a formal sense, Alvarez tells this story in reverse chronological order: Part I portrays 1989-1972; Part II, 1970-1960; and Part III, 1960-1956. In reality, however, she may feel free to flit from this event to that so that all time periods seem of the same era. What the form accomplishes may be that the author begins her saga with when this disenfranchised family from the Dominican Republic must flee to the US, a turbulent period for her country and her family. Then we slowly work our way back in time, to end with the García family’s halcyon days just prior to the purge: a big house with servants, aunts, uncles and cousins living next door. A life they must sacrifice when they move north, where others make fun of their accents (until they expunge them from their lips, to survive). The day the Dominican police come searching for their father who has stealthily hidden in a secret compartment behind the wall of the master bathroom.
Some chapters are told from the third-person, but many are shared by way of first-person through the eyes one of the four titular sisters. Each has her own voice, her own personality. The novel ends with a quiet story in which one sister invades the coal shed where she finds a mother cat and her kittens. The girl steals one of the kittens and names it Schwartz, perhaps after FAO Schwartz toy store in New York, from which the García father has brought his daughters various trinkets to play with. The cat becomes a metaphor, a nightmare the woman continues to have in adulthood: “There are still times I wake up at three o’clock in the morning and peer into the darkness. At that hour and in that loneliness, I hear her, a black furred thing lurking in the corners of my life, her magenta mouth opening, wailing over some violation that lies at the center of my art” (290). Wow, what a shouted whisper of an ending!
TUES: A Writer's Wit | Karen Armstrong
WEDS: A Writer's Wit | Georgia O'Keeffe
THURS: A Writer's Wit | Chinua Achebe
FRI: My Book World | Casey McQuiston, Red, White, and Royal Blue