The Fact and Fiction of Yolanda Garcia
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“I bet there were a lot of people mad at Shakespeare, too, but aren’t we all glad that he wrote Hamlet?” Yolanda’s sisters said in trying to make their tight situation with their little sister Yolanda just a little bit lighter. Even during the days the Garcia family had resided in the Dominican Republic, and Yolanda had always had a cause to tell her stories in either fact or fiction form. The family had to be cautious in the dictatorship, which in turn, had caused many sleepless nights in the Garcia household. When the family had immigrated to the United States her mother still had to worry about the stories that Yolanda would go on to write. Would she have to wait around for a social worker to stop by the house if Yo were telling her fiction stories at school? Yolanda had to write her stories about the people that she knew and in the Dominican it was her close knit family. Yolanda is known for her fictional stories with her family being that source of fascination, and they just seem to be on the wrong end of one great story teller.
Yolanda Garcia’s family has some choice words for their most outspoken member of the family. Yolanda thinks of her own best interests before she thinks about her family. When she writes her stories she only changes the names of the people, but not the experiences that they had good or bad. Her mother wants to file suit against her while the rest of her family cannot lead on their normal lives without being talked about in her fictional writings. The worst part about the situation is that Yolanda does not see what is so wrong about her writing a fictional story about her family and only changing the names. Each person in her story knows which character they are, and even her sisters children are not left out of the chaos of her stories. Yolanda only wants to pass on the history of the family for future generations, but she does not understand that her writing is tearing her family apart.
The only communication that Yolanda has with her mother is through her sisters, and that is when they can get ahold of her. Her sister Sandi was pregnant and was furious when finding out what she thought was written about her in one of Yolanda’s stories in the USA Weekend. The sisters convinced Sandi to call Yolanda to talk about the situation and by the look on her face she was passed on to her voicemail that tells her to call her agent. Sandi has about nine months’ worth of news that she is spilling to her machine of all things, but, in a way, this could be better than someone from the family cutting in with their own version of the story (Alvarez, 1997).
The family tries dearly to get Yolanda to stop writing her fiction stories about her own flesh and blood. It is getting so bad that even her own mother refuses to communicate with her directly. Her mother wants to know what is going on in her life and that she is safe, but would probably not get a word in edgewise if she talked to her directly. Which is why when Sandi gives Yolanda a call, it was best that she got her voicemail. It was an opportunity that she was waiting for, and it had given her the time to get what she wanted to tell her out, without interruption from the family or Yolanda.
There are four Garcia sisters that were taken care of by the maid. The maid has a daughter that was about the same age as Fifi, but they still treated Sarita as their little sister. A long lost Garcia girl in disguise or at least that is how she had wanted to be known in this new world. She did not want anyone to find out that she was the Garcia’s maid’s daughter. Sarita was just about as good at telling fictional stories as Yolanda was.
Sarita lived at the Garcia household with her mother. It was not for several years that her mother sent for her to come live with her in the United States in the Garcia household. Sarita was excited to join her mother in New York City and quickly became a favorite of the Garcia sisters. Each of them had taken a turn with her to either dress up doll, goodwill project, or baby sister. In the end, Yolanda was the one that she would be closest to, especially since Sarita would later tell her story of how she got away with being a Garcia girl. Each of these girls had a gift to tell a story and had people mesmerized into believing every single word that came out. While Sarita was attending school, the kids did not know that she was the daughter of the Garcia family maid. She had fair skin and was pretty, or at least that is what the Garcia girls had led her to believe. She tells of how her family did not allow her to have visitors or phone calls and that her father owned his own island off the coast of Italy or Greece.
While Yolanda is home from college Sarita knows that her new found imaginary family is going to come crashing down. Yolanda needed to complete a research project or internship for school and pleaded to go to London, but her father said no. Instead of choosing the path of Shakespeare, Sarita spoke up, and Yolanda would do her research on her instead. On the first day of the project Yolanda was doing for school it was Sarita that had confessed to Yo on what she had been telling the children at her school about her “family”. She expected Yolanda to judge her, but instead she said, “How’d you get away with it?” (Alvarez, 1997) Sarita explained that she did not say she was a Garcia girl, only that she was using a fictional family and that her mother was not a maid. Yolanda was filled with excitement, “You are my little sister of affection, and that’s all anybody has to know about it!” (Alvarez, 1997)
After Yolanda had completed her report and dedicated it to Sarita’s mother. Sarita knew how Yolanda writes her stories had taken the binder in which the report had been in with plans to bring it to school until she decided what to do with it. Yolanda had saved her and her mother from being deported back into poverty after looking for the report and found it in Sarita’s bag. The two girls were close, and it was a wonder as to why Sarita would want to take something of Yolanda’s and hurting her family’s chances of staying in New York City.
Sarita had kept her promise to Mrs. Garcia and got straight A’s in school and with that was rewarded with a scholarship in which she had used for her major in the sciences. It would be twenty-five years later before she would see Yolanda again. She would stop at her practice in Miami while trying to pedal her manuscript. Sarita is a success being a business owner, while Yolanda has to go from place to place to search for work. Things would never be as they were between the two “sisters” as they are already on different life paths.
Yolanda had told so many stories in her life that she was known for her fiction, and you could not tell if she were telling you the truth or another long winded story. She also holds dear to her heart her homeland of the Dominican Republic. It is what she can share with her father when dealing with his past, and when their eyes meet, her father feels so much closer to Yolanda than that of his other daughters. You may believe that it is because her mother says that they are so much alike, but there is so much more to it than that.
Yolanda’s father knows that when he looks at her, it is that in her eyes she can see him when he was a schoolboy that helps her to be closer to his heart, in a way, that her sisters will never know. She would write to her father at least twice a week, and there were times that she would include old black and white photo with all types of inquisitive remarks. She wanted to know everything about her family. Sometimes you might think she was so talkative just to see how people would react to it. Her father told her everything that she asked about, sometimes he was a little broader than just coming out to say it.
Yolanda would write back to her father asking more questions each time until her father had told her the entire story that he did not want her or the others to know about. But, that was the way she was, inquisitive and always looking for more information about her family’s past. When she wrote her books it was not like she was lying, she was just exaggerating the truth a little too much, sometimes it hurt a member of her family and other times it was forgotten about. Her father is proud that she wrote all of those books for the future generations in order for them to be able to know about what life was like for that particular generation. He wants so desperately to tell Yolanda of how he and her mother had met and also how they wrote letters back and forth to each other.
How her mother did not approve of him, but her father did. His wife reminds him that whatever it is that is spoken to Yolanda would be put on paper. So when he talks to his daughter he leaves out any details that his wife would not approve of wanting Yolanda to know. Everyone knew that Yo would write down anything and everything that she found interesting, and it was mostly her family history that took precedence over everything else. It was Yolanda’s destiny to become a writer, and her father had this to say, “Tell them the secret heart of your father and undo the old wrong. My Yo, embrace your destino. You have my blessing, pass it on.” (Alvarez, 1997)
Yolanda gets herself into trouble with her family most of the time about what she writes. Her family just seems to be at the bad end of her great writing. Julia Alvarez brings this character to life, and it would seem that Yolanda is some parts of Alvarez and the struggles with her family between her homeland and her new home in the United States. Yolanda had to write about something she knew about and tried her best to cover up that it was her family she was writing about. Everyone knew that she loved to tell stories, and it became so bad that her father and mother had to punish her for the stories that she was telling. Her father knew that she would accomplish big things and was glad to see that she wrote down the family’s history as by his words to Yolanda at the end of the book, “My daughter, and the future has come and we were in such a rush to get here! We left here everything behind and forgot so much. Ours is now an orphan family. My grandchildren and great grandchildren will not know the way back unless they have a story. Tell them of our journey.” (Alvarez, 1997)
Alvarez, J. (1997). Yo. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. Yo is the story of Yolanda Garcia and the conflicts that she had with her family after writing her first book, How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accent. She claimed the stories were fiction, but each member of the family could see themselves as a character in her book. Her sisters are furious and her mother is threatening to sue. Each chapter is written from a different person’s perspective of the incidents from Yo’s previous book. If you love to read a book of fiction that you cannot put down, you should give it a look along with other works from Julia Alvarez. Bauer, J. (n.d.). Julia
alvarez biography. Retrieved May 16, 2014, from http://www.notablebiographies.com/news/A-Ca/Alvarez-Julia.html Julia Alvarez is the author of Yo! and How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accent. Yo is the novel written as a response to the Garcia Girls. The novel pits Yolanda’s relatives against her, even though she is claiming that her first book was purely fiction. Alvarez is a great storyteller, much like her fictionalized version, Yolanda Garcia. Both had trouble getting used to life in American from their native homeland and sometimes had trouble finding a happy medium. If a love of fiction is what you crave, check out her many books that she has written. Bryant, J., & Shields, D. (Eds.). (2010). American literature. Pearson Custom. These are a series of poetry, short fiction, and essays by Latino authors that have tried to lead lives in both the United States and their native countries. Some have told stories from a single perspective, while other have many different perspectives. Examples of these are present within the novel written by Julia Alvarez in the eyes of her creation, Yolanda Garcia. Their heritage from their native country is just as important as that of their new country and both can be called home. Julia alvarez: About me. (n.d.). Retrieved May 16, 2014, from http://www.juliaalvarez.com/about/ Julia Alvarez is the author of Yo and created the fictional character Yolanda Garcia. It is unknown whom the character is based off of, but you can bet that there is a small part of Julia that resides in Yo. They both are not originally from the United States and hold their heritage close to their hearts. Writing is one thing that they can do very well and the stories that they tell are of flights of fancy. It is hard to tell if Julia is writing a fictional story or if Yolanda is a not far off version of herself.