Autobiographical fiction is a story based on the life of the author. While events in the story closely follow events in the life of the author, the author is free to embellish or create events to further the themes in the story. Alvarez based the stories in How the Alvarez Sisters Lost Their Accents on her own experience emigrating from the Dominican Republic to New York City in 1960. The work as a whole tells the story of the four Garcia sisters, Carla, Sandra, Yolanda, and Sofia. Yolanda, or Yoyo, is Alvarez herself. In ‘‘Daughter of Invention,’’ Alvarez tells her own story of learning to write in English, as an American, from her own point of view.
However, because Alvarez has fictionalized her account, she is free to emphasize some aspects of the story while deemphasizing others. For example, she is able to draw parallels between the girls’ resistance to parental authority and the Dominicans’ resistance to the dictatorship. This freedom allows her to convey her central point: that Yoyo must find her own way in America, while continuing to be responsible for the heritage of her parents.
Sara Constantakis – Short Stories for Students – Presenting Analysis, Context & Criticism on Commonly Studied Short Stories, vol. 31, Julia Alvarez, Published by Gale Group, 2010