Radikal Readings: In the Time of the Butterflies

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In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez is often used as reading material in schools, but I guess none of my teachers ever got that memo. Seeing as I didn’t get the chance to read it while in school, when I saw the best seller in a bookstore, I had to finally pick it up.

In the Time of the Butterflies is a fictionalized account of the now revered Mirabal sisters who lived under the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic. The sisters became revolutionaries and joined the Movement of the Fourteenth of June political group who planned to overthrow the regime. The sisters were called Las Mariposas or the butterflies.

The book outlines how they are harassed, persecuted, and imprisoned while their family and friends suffer from retaliation by Trujillo’s secret police. It’s presented from the perspective of the only surviving sister, Dedé and from the three other sisters: Minerva, Patria and Maria Teresa in different chapters alternating from present to past.

This book is right up my alley – a revolutionary, historical and political novel. I really appreciated  Alvarez’s writing style and her choice of alternating between different perspectives. While I was weary of this being a fictionalized account with Alvarez’s perception of what the sisters’ lives must have been like, the fact that she and her family fled the Trujillo regime when she was ten years old, just months before Las Mariposas were murdered adds authenticity. Her own father had also been a revolutionary and had to escape before being found out.

If you like historical/political fiction, I can’t recommend this book enough.

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