To readers of How Tía Lola Came to (Visit) Stay, from Julia Alvarez
I don’t know about you, but I grew up with so many aunts in the Dominican Republic.
There was Tití, who was always reading books, and who knew the definition of any word without having to look it up in the dictionary. There was Tía Rosa, who was a wonderful listener and a great cook. And Tía Lulú, who told funny stories and loved to play practical jokes on people. There was Tía Idalita, who was always smiling, and Tía Claudina, who hardly ever smiled, and Tía Laurita, who was sentimental—you had to be careful not to hurt her feelings—and Tía Fofi, who made our clothes and could work a little magic.
When I was ten, we moved to the United States. I left all those aunts behind on the island, but I carried my memories of them in my head.
Years later, I wanted to write those memories down. I rolled up all those remembered aunts into one aunt. I thought about a lot of the questions I was asking when we settled down in this country. What does it mean to come from another country and become an American? What does it mean if you are born here but your parents or grandparents came from somewhere else? What does it mean to be a little different from the people around you? What does it mean to be a family if your parents break up and your extended family is living far away? And finally, what happens when you’ve got all these questions in your head, and your crazy, smiling, funny, well-meaning, sometimes annoying, sentimental, and magical aunt Lola from the Dominican Republic comes to visit you in Vermont?
I wrote this book mostly to see if I could try to answer these questions, but also because I wanted to bring all those aunts back from the dusty past so that they could become a part of the lives of all my readers.
As Tía Lola would say in Spanish, “¡Bienvenidos lectores a la familia!”
Welcome, readers, to the family.
“Mi casa, su casa. Mi libro, su libro.”
My house is your house. My book, your book.