I looked Julia Alvarez up on a couple of sites: the Encyclopedia of World Biography, and on http://www.biography.com, and I found the basics of her life:
Born in New York City on March 27, 1950, she returned to the Dominican Republic when she was three months old. There, her father, a doctor, ran a hospital. He was very involved with politics—opposing dictator Rafael Molina. Dr. Alvarez became involved in a plot to overthrow Molina in 1960; the plot was uncovered, and an American agent helped the family escape to the US. They again settled in New York City.
Alvarez, the biographies say, found assimilating difficult. She read constantly. As if–caught between two very different worlds—having fled from one, not quite embraced in the other—she escaped again into a third world—the universe of books.
Alvarez earned her bachelors at Middlebury College in Vermont (1971), and her masters in creative writing at Syracuse University (1975). She turned to teaching to make a living, and wrote poetry; her teaching took her across the country as a migrant poetry instructor, into the high school classroom, and finally back to Middlebury.
She married Bill Eichner in 1989. In 1991, she received tenure at Middlebury and her novel, How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, was published, to, as they say, great acclaim. Since then, Alvarez has written another novel, children’s books and books of non-fiction. She and Eichner own a sustainable coffee farm in the Dominican Republic.
After finding all that out, I discovered that Alvarez has her own website (www.juliaalvarez.com); on the website is a link to an interview she gave about Once Upon a Quinceanara: