In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez
In the Time of the Butterflies was recommended to me by several of my Latino patrons. Since it sounded like a very interesting book, I decided to make it a Fall book group selection for the Edgerton Book Ends in order to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month as well as in honor of International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (November 25), declared by the United Nations as a tribute to the Mirabal sisters (the Butterflies) and their fight for freedom.
In In the Time of the Butterflies, Julia Alvarez introduces American readers to the story of the Mirabal sisters, Dominican underground political activists, who were brutally assassinated on orders of the Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo. Alvarez presents a fictionalized account of their lives during the Trujillo regime and their fight for democracy in the Dominican Republic. The story is told by and about the four sisters. Patria’s story is told in the first person, Mate’s story is in diary form and Dedé and Minerva’s stories are in the third person. This structure makes the book much more interesting and helps the reader better understand the different personalities of the sisters and reasons why they fought against Trujillo’s regime.
Julia Alvarez manages to capture the spirit of each of the sisters beautifully. She has created a poignant, inspiring and unforgettable read. The book is not only about the underground and struggle for democracy but also about family, love and humanity. It is very readable and can be recommended to anyone who wants to learn more about the culture and history of Latin America. However, as Alvarez points out herself, the readers needs to keep in mind that the book is historical fiction and not a biography.