Julia Alvarez develops the character of Yolanda Garcia in some different and similar ways in her two books How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents and its sequel Yo . The reasons for the differences in the two characterizations of Yolanda is that there is almost no continuity concerning her character in the two books--meaning that all the specific details of Yolanda's life given to the reader in the first book are different (not continued nor elaborated upon) in the sequel. It was almost like reading about two different characters that just happened to have the same family and happen to have immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic. For example, in the first book Yolanda goes to graduate school, becomes a teacher, and only shows interest in writing poetry. She also marries a man named John after having fallen in love with a young man named Rudy in college.
In the second book Yolanda does not go to graduate school, in fact, she almost does not get her bachelor's degree because she elopes with a young man named Darryl Dubois. She does become a teacher, but she publishes mainly prose-short stories and novels-not poetry. Whereas, the similarity in the two different characterizations of Yolanda is that she is definitely assimilated to American culture, yet her Old World values and lifestyle also influence her.
In both books it is clear that Yolanda has successfully assimilated to American culture. Unlike her parents-first generation immigrants-who never gain a complete mastery of the English language, Yolanda masters the language and excels in school. In the second book, one of her college professors has the following experience with her as a student:
He had assumed that with a name like Yolanda Garcia and a slight accent to her speech, she was a...