*** In the Time of Butterflies by Julia Alvarez (1994)

This is a book I had always meant to read, but somehow never did so until now, and it’s just beautiful, even better than How the Garcia Sisters Lost Their Accents.  While this is a fictional story, it is based on  historical events: the 30 year dictatorship of Trujillo, the Dominican Republic’s most ruthless leader; the murder of the Mirabel sisters; Castro’s beginnings in Cuba; and the U.S.’s empty promises of help.  But mostly it’s about the sisters.  We watch them growing up, becoming involved in politics, getting married, having babies, struggling to make a living, and ultimately sacrificing their lives for their country.  The story begins in the present told from the point of view of the lone surviving sister who reflects back on her dead sisters, but the chapters then alternate narrators from one sister to another.  In this way, we feel as if we truly get to know each sister since we’re essentially reading her own words, her own thoughts on life and the world around them.  Much of the narrative is so beautifully written, I wanted to mark page after page of passages that I loved, but because I bought a first edition hardback, I couldn’t bring myself to fold them down.  I’ll have to reread and add post-its to the passages I want to excerpt.  (fiction)

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