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Antes de Ser Libres

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  3,421 ratings  ·  539 reviews
What would life be like for a teen living under a dictatorship? Afraid to go to school or to talk freely? Knowing that, at the least suspicion, the secret police could invade your house, even search and destroy your private treasures? Or worse, that your father or uncles or brothers could be suddenly taken away to be jailed or tortured or killed? Such experiences have been ...more
Published September 6th 2005 by Listening Library (Audio) (first published January 1st 2002)
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Edward K
These days, I haven’t been reading a lot except one book and it is The Shining but I already wrote about it. The only other book that I am reading besides that book is the school book, Before We Were Free. Even though it is a school book, I find it interesting with a great storyline and a lot of hints and symbols in it. I recommend the book to anyone who wants to learn more about the Dominican Republic and the time where they weren’t free from the dictator El Jefe, and someone who just can’t fin ...more
Feb 12, 2012 Natalie rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Newbery books and/or Lois Lowry
This book was a solid "blah" for me. It wasn't that it was necessarily bad, it was just boring. Alvarez tried to make this book a heart-racing drama, but it just didn't cut it. Especially since Anita spent most of the book dealing with such average teenage problems, envying her sister, talking about puberty, and obsessing over her various crushes.
High Points.
Whenever there was actually some suspense...not very often. Trujillo's interest in her sister (unlikely, but actually quite grotesquely su
Crystal Bandel
Before We Were Free by Julia Alvarez, published 2002.

Historical fiction.


Grades 7-10.

Found via Horn Book Magazine, reviewed by Lauren Adams.

Anita is an upper-class girl in the Dominican Republic, living through the end of the Trujillo dictatorship and trying to make sense of it all. She begins the novel clueless about the dictatorship, as many readers might be, and slowly she pieces together her family's fears and the freedoms that have been taken from everyone. As Anita learns more and kee
William L
I recommend the book “Before We Were Free” because it keeps the pages turning and at the same time it makes you tense and want to know what’s going to occur in the next page. I did not finish the book yet so I don’t know whether it was satisfying to read it or not but I can guarantee you that this book will make you satisfied. I can relate that I feel scared at times and I want to be brave but I don’t know what to do. The plot is suspenseful and interesting and the theme is very well developed. ...more
In Julia Alvarez’s first young adult novel, Before we were Free, we meet 12-year-old Anita de la Torre. Like many young children, she is curious and talkative. Having lived a comfortingly protected life thus far, Anita is sweetly innocent and naïve. Her life seems rather normal. She annoys her older sister and has a crush on her new American neighbor Sam. However all of this will change quickly. The story takes place in the Dominican Republic during the months leading up to the assassination of ...more
Adriana Villagomez
As a child, do you remember being so excited for your birthday to arrive that that was the only thing on your mind? Anita, is turning 12 years old and that's the only thing on her mind during an unusual time of civil war and unrest in her country. Our main character, Anita, lives in the Dominican Republic. As events escalate as the book continues, Anita realizes that the safety of her family is more important. Anita’s father and uncle are part of a group that successfully assassinated the dictat ...more
Anita de la Torre lives with her extended family in the Dominican Republic during the increasing cruel Trujillo dictatorship. Most of her family has escaped to the U.S., but she and her immediate family stay to "take care of the store", which Anita finds out means working with the underground resistance.
This book taught me that at the end of the day all you have is family and you will do anything to protect them. It also reminded me what freedom really is and how sometimes we take the small things for granted.
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Stephan M
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Min J
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Before We Were Free/ Julia Alvarez/2002

Genre: Multi-Cultural Fiction/ Historical Fiction

Format: Book

Summary: Anita de la Torre never questioned her freedom living in the Dominican Republic. But by her 12th birthday in 1960, most of her relatives have emigrated to the United States, her Tío Toni has disappeared without a trace, and the government's secret police terrorize her remaining family because of their suspected opposition of el Trujillo's dictatorship. (summary taken from Google Books)

I listened to "Before We Were Free" which was read by Julia Alvarez, the author herself. Although I loved her voice which was perfect with accents and Spanish words said as they should be, I kept wanting to go back to read different parts of the story. I had a more difficult time following the story because of characters I think. I did not know much about the Dominican Republic and the dictatorship of it's goverenment during the middle of the 20th century and this was a good way for me to learn ...more
Anita is a young teenager whose large extended family all live happily on her grandfather's compound until the dictatorship of the Dominican Republic threatens the lives of those she holds dear. So one family at a time moves off the compound to United States as it becomes too dangerous to continue living there. Except hers. During the next few months her family must stay and secretly fight for the freedom of the nation. She watches and listens as the Resistance takes foundation in her home, and ...more
Anthony Cho
Before We Were Free

I recommend this book because, it has a unique plotline, and is full of interesting characters and settings. The book kept me turning pages, because it was addicting and the events were fascinating throughout the story. This book is full of suspense, making me turn the pages to see what happened next. I am not done reading this book yet, but am close to the ending. I relate to the character Anita, because just like her I am sort of caring for my family and my friends. Just li
Excellent YA novel. Treatment of this subject by a child narrator actually makes it even more immediate and frightening, because the 12-year-old protagonist, Anita, was often confused and scared due to not knowing exactly what was going on. When she finally did learn more about what was happening in her country and to her family, it felt even more emotional and painful. She hadn't realized that dictator Trujillo was reviled by many people, including her parents, until the events in the book bega ...more
Lindsey Duncan
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Amber Wortz
Amber Wortz

"Before We Were Free," by Julia Alvarez is a work of fiction about a family living in the Dominican Republic in the 1950's and 1960's under rule of the dictator Rafael Trujillo. The main character, Anita, tells her story in first person perspective about being a part of a family who is trying to overcome the dictator and what it's like to live in fear of the government destroying your home and family.
This is an amazing book. The author has some experience with this topic,
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Joey Kim
I thought that this book was really accurate to what actually happened at the Dominican Republic. Although it was accurate, I didn't enjoy the book that much. It was a little slow moving, at some parts and hard to keep turning pages, but at some parts it was pretty good and it was easy to move on. However, it still had a lot of good things in it. It made you think deeply about the story, and required a little bit of research to figure out what was going on. Also, it had many symbols in it that w ...more
Jennifer Ward
Apr 06, 2008 Jennifer Ward rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Grades 5th-8th
Shelves: fiction-juvenile
This novel reminded me a great deal of Diary of Anne Frank. Change the setting and you have Anita, a 12 year old girl who lives in the Dominican Republic which is dictated by El Jefe. It was a bit disturbing that the family planned his demise which outright strikes anyone as immoral and yet as the story unfolds you see the reasons behind it and you're drawn in and hoping that they can kill the dictator and get out of town. It's a novel that makes you think about what is right and wrong and does ...more
Anita de la Torre, the main character of the book, lived in a world where the people she knew slowly disappeared. This situation in Dominican Republic not only paralyzed her relationship with her father but also forced her to live a life full of dangers.The current president of the country wanted to take young women for his own purposes. Anita, being one of the women that the tyrannous president had set eyes on, becomes the the reason why her family is constantly visited by the secret police. An ...more
This book would be a lovely middle school precursor to some of Alvarez 's adult fiction, like In the Time of the Butterflies. The background of the Trujillo dictatorship is nicely balanced with young adult topics like jealousy, identity and of course love. I think it would be a great introduction to multicultural literature.
I enjoyed reading this, especially right after reading Number the Stars (similar themes and some overlap in plot, but in a different historical setting). It is the story of a girl trying to grow into a woman in a time when her world and her sense of reality is crumbling. The theme of freedom and what it means to be free is recurring and is considered through the eyes of a girl growing into a young woman who must struggle to understand how sometimes there is a layer of lies in what we come to bel ...more
I liked this book and I think it was an interesting way to engage young adults and young girls in world politics. Growing up in the United States, it is often difficult for us to understand the lifestyles and conditions for people under dictatorships. The main character in this coming of age novel is a young girl, Anita, who experiences all the excitement and mystery of childhood, and the confusion and fear of growing up, mixed in with confusion as she learns about her government through her dis ...more
Vamos a Leer
In Julia Alvarez's first young adult novel, Before we were Free, we meet 12-year-old Anita de la Torre. Like many young children, she is curious and talkative. Having lived a comfortingly protected life thus far, Anita is sweetly innocent and naïve. Her life seems rather normal. She annoys her older sister and has a crush on her new American neighbor Sam. However all of this will change quickly. The story takes place in the Dominican Republic during the months leading up to the assassination of ...more
Before We Were Free by Julia Alvarez, takes place in the Dominican Republic during the 1960s. The main character, Anita de la Torre grew up learning that El Jefe (The King) was a kind and caring man that loved the Dominican Republic and the people there. In actuality El Jefe didn’t care for his people and only liked his position because he could do anything he wanted and get away with it. Anita’s family (grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles) all lived on one compound until one day her uncle, Tio ...more
Summer Hemphill
Julia Alverez's, Before We Were Free, tells the story of 12 year old Anita de la Torre as she is shaped and molded by the society in which she is surrounded.

Anita is a 12 year old girl, coming of age in the Dominican Republic in the 1960's under the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo. Alverez provides the reader with historical context of the time by detailing the secret political and social movements of the Dominican people in efforts to overthrow their dictator. Through overheard, secret conversa
Samantha Lazo
Anita de la Torre is living in the tyrannically ruled Dominican Republic with her family. They have next to nothing, but they have each other and a dream. A dream that they will one day be free of the wrath of their leader, Trujillo's, dictatorial rule. On Anita's 12th birthday, an exodus of her relatives to the United States deepens her loneliness and longing for freedom and her beloved Tío Toni has disappeared without a trace in the Dominican Republic. The Dominican secret police terrorized he ...more
Geffen C
Before We Were Free was written by Julia Alvarez, I honestly never heard of that name before. I think the book is pointless to read and would not recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a fun and intriguing book, unless you are one of those people who like to hear about girl problems. Most people would want to read books that are actually fun and where the main character is the one doing almost everything. I really think this book is a waste of time and you should not stop to even read ...more
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wat you think about this book?? 14 54 May 08, 2014 09:44AM  
ENG 580 Spring 2014: Choice Book 3: Before We Were Free 1 2 Mar 03, 2014 06:02PM  
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Julia Álvarez was born in New York City. Her parents moved back to the Dominican Republic when Álvarez was 3 months old and she was raised there until she was 10, when the family moved back to NYC.

She is currently writer-in-residence at Middlebury College and the owner of a coffee farm named Alta Gracia, near Jarabacoa in the mountains of the Dominican Republic. The farm hosts a school to teach l
More about Julia Alvarez...
In the Time of the Butterflies How the García Girls Lost Their Accents Yo! In the Name of Salome Saving the World

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