How Tia Lola Came to (Visit) Stay

How Tia Lola Came to (Visit) Stay

by Julia Alvarez


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A delightfully entertaining story of family and culture from acclaimed author Julia Alvarez.

Moving to Vermont after his parents split, Miguel has plenty to worry about! Tía Lola, his quirky, carismática, and maybe magical aunt makes his life even more unpredictable when she arrives from the Dominican Republic to help out his Mami. Like her stories for adults, Julia Alvarez’s first middle-grade book sparkles with magic as it illuminates a child’s experiences living in two cultures.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780440418702
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 08/28/2002
Series: Tia Lola Stories Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 160
Sales rank: 52,511
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.63(h) x 0.41(d)
Lexile: 800L (what's this?)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Julia Alvarez is the award-winning author of How the García Girls Lost Their Accents, ¡Yo!, In the Time of the Butterflies, In the Name of Salomé, and a picture book, The Secret Footprints. Her most recent book for young readers is entitled Before We Were Free. She is a writer-in-residence at Middlebury College.


Middlebury, Vermont

Date of Birth:

March 27, 1950

Place of Birth:

New York, New York


B.A., Middlebury College, 1971; M.F.A., Syracuse University, 1975

Read an Excerpt

"Why can't we just call her Aunt Lola?" Miguel asks his mother. Tomorrow their aunt is coming from the Dominican Republic to visit with them in their new home in Vermont. Tonight they are unpacking the last of the kitchen boxes before dinner.

"Because she doesn't know any English," his mother explains.

"Tia is the word for aunt in Spanish, right, Mami?" Juanita asks. When their mother's back is turned, Juanita beams Miguel a know-it-all smile.

Their mother is gazing sadly at a blue bowl she has just unpacked. "So you see, Miguel, if you call her Aunt, she won't know you're talking to her."

That's fine, Miguel thinks, I won't have much to say to her except "Adios!" Goodbye! But he keeps his mouth shut. He knows why his mother is staring at the blue bowl, and he doesn't want to upset her in the middle of a memory.

"So, please, Miguel," his mother is saying, "just call her Tia Lola. Okay?"

Miguel kind of nods, kind of just jerks his head to get his hair out of his eyes. It can go either way.

It is the last day of January. Four weeks ago, during Christmas break, they moved from New York City into a farmhouse Mami rented from a Realtor by phone. Miguel and Juanita's parents are getting a divorce, and Mami has been hired to be a counselor in a small college in Vermont. Papi is a painter who sets up department store windows at night in the city.

Every morning, instead of walking to school as they used to do in New York City, Miguel and Juanita wait for the school bus by the mailbox. It is still dark when they board and drive down the dirt road, past their neighbor's sheep farm to town. It is again dark when they get home at the end of the day and let themselves into the chilly house. Mami does not like the idea of Miguel and Juanita being alone without an adult, and that in large part is why she has invited Tia Lola to come for a visit.

Why not ask Papi to come up and stay with them instead? Miguel wants to suggest. He doesn't really understand why his parents can't stay married even if they don't get along. After all, he doesn't get along great with his little sister, but his mother always says, "Juanita's your familia, Miguel!" Why can't she say the same thing to herself about Papi? But Miguel doesn't dare suggest this to her. These days, Mami bursts out crying at anything. When they first drove up to the old house with its peeling white paint, Mami's eyes filled with tears.

"It looks haunted," Juanita gasped.

"It looks like a dump," Miguel corrected his little sister. "Even Dracula wouldn't live here." But then, catching a glimpse of his mother's sad face, he added quickly, "So you don't have to worry about ghosts, Nita!"

His mother smiled through her tears, grateful to him for being a good sport.

After some of the boxes have been cleared away, the family sits down to eat dinner. They each get to pick the can they want to bring to the table: Juanita chooses SpaghettiOs, their mother chooses red beans, and Miguel chooses a can of Pringles. "Only this one night, so we can finish getting settled for Tia Lola," their mother explains about their peculiar dinner. Every night, she gets home so late from work, there is little time for unpacking and cooking. Mostly, they have been eating in town at Rudy's Restaurant. The friendly, red-cheeked owner, Rudy, has offered them a special deal.

"Welcome Wagon Special," he calls it. "Three meals for the price of one and you guys teach me some Spanish." But even Miguel is getting tired of pizza and hot dogs with french fries on the side.

"Thanks for a yummy dinner, Mami," Juanita is saying, as if their mother has cooked all the food and put it in cans with labels marked Goya and SpaghettiOs, then just now reheated the food in the microwave. She always sees the bright side of things. "Can I have some of those chips, Miguel?" she asks her brother.

"This is my can," Miguel reminds her.

"But you can share," his mother reminds him. "Pretend we're at the Chinese restaurant and we share all the plates."

"We're not Chinese," Miguel says. "We're Latinos." At his new school, he has told his classmates the same thing. Back in New York, lots of other kids looked like him. Some people even thought he and his best friend, Jose, were brothers. But here in Vermont, his black hair and brown skin stand out. He feels so different from everybody. "Are you Indian?" one kid asks him, impressed. Another asks if his color wears out, like a tan. He hasn't made one friend in three weeks.

"I didn't say to pretend you're Chinese," his mother sighs, "just to pretend that you're at a Chinese restaurant...." She suddenly looks as if she is going to cry.

Miguel shoves his can of chips over to Juanita--anything to avoid his mother bursting into tears again. She is staring down at her bowl as if she had forgotten it was there underneath her food the whole time. From that blue bowl, Miguel's mother and father fed each other spoonfuls of cake the day they got married. There is a picture of that moment in the white album in the box marked albums/attic that their mother says they might unpack sometime later in the distant future maybe.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Like all good stories, this one incorporates a lesson just subtle enough that readers will forget they’re being taught, but in the end will understand themselves, and others, a little better, regardless of the la lengua nativa - the mother tongue. Simple, bella, un regalo permanente: simple and beautiful, a gift that will stay.”–Kirkus Reviews

Customer Reviews

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How Tia Lola Came to (Visit) Stay 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a good book. Anyone in the age range of 9 and 12 should read this book. I recommend this book to everyone who reads it, trust me you will see what i'm talking about. This book is very interesting to the kids minds!!!! i know because i am one !!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this in fourth grade it is pretty good. Now i am in seventh and still like it
HenWen More than 1 year ago
Great short read, fun for this Dominicana to read. Situations are a little too easy to predict and cliche (the curmudgeon who finds his heart, etc.) but it was still fun and great to introduce my son to some of his Dominican culture and heritage. Great for ages 10+, although some of the spanish might trip up younger kids.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its a pretty good book, even though its not the best book in the world.......
Aiona Grant More than 1 year ago
Great book
Guest More than 1 year ago
How Tía Lola came to ¿Visit¿ Stay by Julia Alvarez is not one of my favorite novels off the Hispanic author shelf, but it was a very fun read and, in my own opinion, had some symbolism throughout as well as a connection back to the Spanish language through the array of characters in Alvarez¿s novel. The novel is about a boy named Miguel whose parents have recently filed to be divorced, and his mother has invited his very colorful aunt to stay in their home. Miguel has to be the shallowest character written about in literature. His aunt is a little odd and a bit fiery and flavorful than most people, but he worries more about what his new classmates would think than staying on the side of family. Alvarez wrote, ¿This is how Tía Lola becomes top secret.¿ '28' Miguel decides to keep his aunt a secret because all his friends think she is a ghost anyway. He¿d rather be liked than actually stick by his own family, as stated. Even though he slowly admits he likes some things about his aunt, he keeps her under wraps practically the whole visit. Now, Miguel¿s mother, Mami as they call her, has a very, shall I say, more developed storyline. She is new to being a single mother just in the midst a terrible divorce, and is now living on her own with her two kids. Mami is also the one who invited Tía Lola to visit. Something interesting about her character is the narrator makes many references to `the blue bowl¿. Alvarez wrote, ¿But he keeps his mouth shut. He knows why his mother is staring at the blue bowl, and he doesn¿t want to upset her memory.¿ '2' The infamous `blue bowl¿ is a symbol of the broken relationship between Miguel¿s parents, being the bowl they spoon fed cake to each other from on their wedding day, and a symbol of Mami¿s torture that her marriage is over. Now, Miguel¿s younger sister, Juanita, seemed to be the most underdeveloped character. She offered a symbol of innocence in the novel. Juanita is very young, roughly four or five, and, as I noticed, doesn¿t really harness what is going on with her parents yet. Juanita offers some basics of the Spanish language to the novel. Juanita says, ¿`Tía is the word for aunt in Spanish, right, Mami?¿¿ '1' And finally, for the main roles throughout the novel, is Tía Lola, the family¿s colorful aunt from the Dominican Republic. She is very loud, boisterous, and can only speak Spanish which offers more than just the basics, like Juanita¿s character offers. I believe Tía Lola symbolizes the idea of prejudice in America. Especially with Miguel keeping her top secret from his friends he is rejecting something different just because it is different. I also believe Tía Lola represents some of the problems in America vs. Cultural Changes because Miguel most likely feels that Tía Lola could mess up his Latin-American lifestyle, like a large majority of bigoted Americans feel that letting people jump our borders is going to ruin our country. Tía Lola has to be my favorite character over all because I, personally, would love a wacky and crazy aunt like her. Another thing I loved about this novel is the Spanish integration into the English text like using simple Spanish words as way to show younger readers that other languages are out there other than just English. Overall, I give this novel three stars as a book and two thumbs up if they ever made it a movie. It is good for rainy day fun or for some analysis into what each little piece means.
kjarthur on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A wonderful story about learning to accept changes and to allow people to show you that moving on can mean extending your friendships and family. Alvarez is becoming a favorite author for she is able to speak life's truths that can bring understanding, healing, peace and joy to a situation. Her word choice is on spot while maintaing the story's tone, humor, characters and plot.
Afsolove on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Miguel Guzman¿s parents have just gotten divorced and he¿s not so sure he¿ll ever be a part of a family again. To make things worse, his mother has just moved Miguel and his little sister, Juanita, to a Vermont farming village where all of his classmates are white and have ¿normal¿ last names. He¿s terrified that his Dominican aunt, Tía Lola, will turn the town upside down with her flamboyant clothes, enthusiastic manners and stubborn Spanish. But, with Tía Lola¿s help, Miguel learns that life goes on after tragic things happen and that people are more accepting than he thinks.How Tía Lola Came to Visit Stay is a charming story about a little boy searching for meaning after his parents' divorce makes his world falls apart. Lola¿s vibrancy and love teach him valuable lessons about family and community.
mikitchenlady on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A nice story about a small family who moves to Vermont after the parents divorce, and how their Tia Lola from the Domincan Republic to help them adapt to their new lives. Respectfully shows how latinos, or in this case how the Dominican Republic family becomes part of the great American stew (not melting pot, as they retain their culture and add to American/New England culture).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book but I would recomend it to yonger readers becaws it dosen't have much action or description (although to much is tedeus). But all in all it was a good book! I LOVED and highly recomend another of Julia Alvarez's books: Return to Sender, although it can be alittle sad in parts...any way you should read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Seqyn! Pearl! Wednesday's red. Stop disrespecting her.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dare someone to write somthing! (Im not lazy too lazy to write right now. Pft. ) <br> <p> ~ P&epsilon&alpha<_>rl
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was funny and entertaining all the way thriugh. I read this at school with my class and couldnt wait to see what would be happening next. I highly recommend this book. Enjoy
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ok u might not belive me but the athour is my cousin
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
kiss your hand and post this on three other books and wake up to an iphone under your pillow
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Quirky Tia Lola Has Arrived ! This book will teach you Spanish and make you smile. A delightful EBOB book for all ages. Trust me I read it and re-read it. You will LOVE it!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For this one activity that i am in we are having to read this book i havn't read it yet but the girl i "like" who is in it to and she said it was a really good book so ofcourse i took her advise
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a very good book that had my full attention.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Julia alverez is my nieghbor!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I need to read it for battle of th book
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