Thursday, December 30, 2010

Review: In The Time of Butterflies--Julia Alvarez

Synopsis: From the author of How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents comes this tale of courage and sisterhood set in the Dominican Republic during the rise of the Trujillo dictatorship. A skillful blend of fact and fiction, In the Time of the Butterflies is inspired by the true story of the three Mirabal sisters who, in 1960, were murdered for their part in an underground plot to overthrow the government. Alvarez breathes life into these historical figures--known as "las mariposas," or "the butterflies," in the underground--as she imagines their teenage years, their gradual involvement with the revolution, and their terror as their dissentience is uncovered.
Alvarez's controlled writing perfectly captures the mounting tension as "the butterflies" near their horrific end. The novel begins with the recollections of Dede, the fourth and surviving sister, who fears abandoning her routines and her husband to join the movement. Alvarez also offers the perspectives of the other sisters: brave and outspoken Minerva, the family's political ringleader; pious Patria, who forsakes her faith to join her sisters after witnessing the atrocities of the tyranny; and the baby sister, sensitive Maria Teresa, who, in a series of diaries, chronicles her allegiance to Minerva and the physical and spiritual anguish of prison life.

Review:  What an incredibly moving story.

As I stated a couple of months ago, I've been having trouble finding the time to complete books these days due to a crazy and chaotic schedule (and I know most of you can relate!). So what a joy it was, when I finally found the time to get back into reading, for my first book to be this one.

Alvarez, through 4 completely distinct perspectives, tells us this fascinating story of four incredibly strong women fighting for a cause they truly believed in; sacrificing their lives for the good of their country and standing against a government that showed no remorse in getting revenge against those who disputed it.

This book, a work of historical fiction, gives insight into the bleak side of Dominican history through the Mirabel sisters, whom (and Alvarez notes this herself) have been praised and revered they've become somewhat of a myth.  (They were real women and I applaud Alvarez for taking these women and giving us the, albeit fictional, human side of these women making them relatable.) Alvarez presents this story in a way that is simple yet fascinating.

I loved this book. I loved the story of these women and it made me wonder if I necessarily had the strength or courage to do something along the lines of the Mirabel sisters. All in all, definitely an entertaining read.

Grade: A

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