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In the Time of the Butterflies

4.13  ·  Rating Details ·  41,513 Ratings  ·  2,984 Reviews
It is November 25, 1960, and the bodies of three beautiful, convent-educated sisters have been found near their wrecked Jeep at the bottom of a 150-foot cliff on the north coast of the Dominican Republic. El Caribe, the official newspaper, reports their deaths as an accident. It does not mention that a fourth sister lives. Nor does it explain that the sisters were among th ...more
Hardcover, 339 pages
Published January 1st 2010 by Perfection Learning (first published 1994)
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Maggie Marie No, but if you're interested in butterfly migration, Barbara Kingsolver's "Flight Behavior" is an excellent novel.
Jessica I was required to read this for summer reading going into either my freshman or sophomore year of high school (which had 200 girls in my grade) and I…moreI was required to read this for summer reading going into either my freshman or sophomore year of high school (which had 200 girls in my grade) and I went to an all girls private catholic high school so I would say that is is appropriate for young teens and young adults. It is not a very happy book but it is appropriate for those ages.(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Julia Alvarez has been one of my favorite authors for the past twenty years. Her memoirs, both fictional and nonfiction, are laced with poetic humor and often leave me with a smile on my face. Alvarez' family left the Dominican Republic in 1960 in the middle of the revolution to overthrow the dictatorial president Rafael Leonidas Trujillo. Because her father had connections, the family was able to escape. Yet, what of those left on the island? In this fictional yet poignant account of the Miraba ...more
Petra Eggs
I know I'm out of step with everyone on this, but I just can't stand this book. I've tried so hard to read it, it just bores me to tears apart from the first part with the girls at the convent school, which I enjoyed. However, the convention of the schoolgirl's "dear diary" becoming "dearest dearest little book" was a sign of things to come. I know Santo Domingo (view spoiler) and I'm familiar with the bloody, murder ...more
Apr 05, 2014 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stories
The first time I traveled through Mexico, I found this book... and read it in three days. Towards the end of the story, before the impending tragedy strikes, the oldest (and easily the bravest) sister is remembering a moment from her youth... she and her sisters are playing this game, in the dark, behind their parents' farm house: the idea was to walk off the porch, into the pitch black of the night, and to go as far as they could before turning back. What she remembers, is how everyone always t ...more
Apr 11, 2008 Helen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not an Alvarez fan, but I enjoyed getting a fictionalized glimpse into a part of Dominican Republican history. Once again, I was so frustrated by history. This story is the same story in so many countries. But, I was encouraged in Alvarez's afterword when she commented that she gave herself room to fictionalize the characters because the Maribel sisters have become so mythic that they are almost superhuman, but through her book, we can see that any one of us can be as courageous as Patria, D ...more
Emma Taylor
May 06, 2016 Emma Taylor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
n the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez is an intense tale of the four Mirabal sisters, Minerva, Dedé, María Teresa, and Patricia. The book starts in the 1960s as an interviewer arrives at one of the sister’s houses for an exclusive interview. The story is told in flashback form and eventually makes a full circle back to 1960. In the Time of the Butterflies is extremely captivating; once you start reading, you won’t want to put the book down. Julia Alvarez does a great job of not only dra ...more
Tara Chevrestt
Darn good story with strong Latina characters. A must read for all Hispanic ladies. Until I picked this up, I didn't realize that the Dominican Republic had such a turbulent past. Thus, the book has been educational as well as entertaining.

In the sixties there was rebellion. Revolutionists wanted Trujillo, a dictator, out of the way. This book follows four sisters. Patria is the oldest and appears to be your average stay at home wife and mother who occasionally struggles with her deep Catholic f
Jun 01, 2016 ☮Karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2016
This is Julia Alvarez's take on the reign of the Dominican dictator Trujillo and the brave Mirabal sisters who sacrificed their comfortable lives to form a resistance against him. I also read about them on Wikipedia and watched a short video about the sister who survived. Julia Alvarez created this story from a few pieces of known facts; the background is of her imagination, based on some truths. But even so, it serves as an inspiration to the oppressed and especially women of the world to stand ...more
I think I've decided not to re-read this, so I can't review it properly because I've forgotten my thoughts. I'm glad this was brought to my attention by the year of reading women selection because it's an amazing story and an important piece of radical history. As other reviewers note, by focussing on the personal and making the sisters distinct (even idiosyncratic) and flawed Alvarez demonstrates that extraordinary courage comes from people like you and I (Malala Yousefzai's book comes to mind ...more
Jan 26, 2008 Erin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this in Spanish because I thought it was originally written in Spanish, being written by a Dominican author and set in the Dominican Republic. But no; it was written in English and I just got some extra reading practice.

This is a non-fiction-told-as-fiction, the dramatization of real events. It is the story of the real-life Mirabal sisters, who were members of the underground resistance to the Dominican dictator Trujillo. The story is told over many years in separate chapters from the po
a brilliant novelized version of las tres mariposas - the name given to the 3 sisters who, despite being from a wealthy, landed family fought bravely to their deaths, against Trujillo. i found one of the loveliest insights was how they came to be political in three VERY different ways - one, a traditional mother became angry about the treatment of children and family, another fell madly in love with a freedom fighter, and a third was intrinsically an activist - righteously furious at the inequit ...more
I have completed the book. I am not as enthralled as when I began it. Why? What went wrong? I am only going to give the book three stars.

I am not going to give another synopsis of the book. If that is what you are looking for please see the book description above. I have learned how it might have been to live in the Dominican Republic during the latter half of the 20th Century, mostly under Dictator Trujillo!s reign. The four Mirabel sisters fight against him have today reached mythic proportion
Fictional account of the sad and true story of four sisters in the Mirabal family, three of whom were murdered in November 1960 in the Dominican Republic for working against Trujillo, the dictator in power at the time. A decent read overall and I thought it started out well, but got bogged down in the middle for me, with too many characters and shifting time periods between the chapters that I thought made it difficult to follow the story and keep track of the different sisters, let alone all th ...more
Apr 19, 2012 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anne & anyone liking historical fiction
Take four sisters, add the backdrop of the oppressive Trujillo regime of the Dominican Republic, include the fizz of drama and voila! introducing In the Time of the Butterflies.

Julia Alvarez portrays each sister as a unique individual. The eldest, Patria, encased in her religion; Dede the second-born plays it safe; Minerva is the catalyst; while the youngest, Mate, lives for love, together, make for an intriguing tale.

When I picked up this book I hoped I wasn't in for a depressing read. To my
Apr 16, 2009 Lorena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Jeremy, Logan
Recommended to Lorena by: Jill
This was an excellent read, I knew very little about Trujillo's Dictatorship of horrors and that dark part of the Dominican Republic's history. I know this is Historical Fiction, but I have truly enjoyed getting to know Las Mariposas, it makes me feel so bad though about the inaction I have been living on. There are so many people out there that give it all for the wellbeing of the community, even their lives while I just live my confortable little existence and do nothing for others, made me fe ...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Aug 12, 2008 Jeanette "Astute Crabbist" rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jeanette by: Book Lust, by Nancy Pearl
This is a fictionalized account of the lives of the four Mirabal sisters, Patria, Dede, Minerva, and Maria Teresa. They grew up in the Dominican Republic during the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo. Trujillo ruled brutally for thirty-one years, merciless and drunk on power. It disgusts me how these vain, arrogant little men like Hitler and Trujillo can wield so much power and do so much damage.

The book alternates among the "voices" of the four sisters. The first part of the book tells about their
Mia (Parentheses Enthusiast)
UGH. I'll probably write a half-assed review of this book at some point in the future. But since I had to read it for school, I will have to analyse the shit out of it in class, and right now it's the summertime and I don't want to think any more about In the Time of the Butterflies than I absolutely have to.

EDIT 10/15/15: So here's my astoundingly brilliant review... This book sucks. I shouldn't say it sucks, I should say that I didn't like it, but any way you phrase it, this book bored the shi
Mrs. Reed
Sep 05, 2007 Mrs. Reed rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm on a Julia Alvarez kick. So far, I've just read this and iYo!, but based on these two, she's one of the most imaginative, creative authors I've ever encountered. This is historical fiction in a new sense. She took the stories of famous Dominican revolutionaries and fictionalized pretty much their entire lives. The main parts, of course, are true. Reading it, I was always questioning what was "real" and what was an Alvarezation. When I finished it, I had a little cry (right there on the train ...more
Mar 10, 2009 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"In the Time of the Butterflies" was beautiful and sad. I loved every one of the sisters. Their sacrifice, during the Trujillo regime, made me question what I would be willing to sacrifice for freedom and it made me think about my sister. The image that made me cry and made me angry was of the sisters standing in the garden one night looking back at the lit house as their mama bustles around getting their children ready for bed. Alvarez says they look at the house with longing as if they were al ...more
I got distracted again by life. It really needs to stop getting in the way like that. Last book that was half read on the plane and half in a jet-lagged state was In the Time of Butterflies. This poor book got a bit more love than I would like, as I'm pretty meticulous with my books, as I had a mother of a cold on the plane and sneezed, causing me to wave my hands in the air like a numpty, which then collected my G&T and doused my lap and my book in too much tonic and not enough gin. At leas ...more
Emma Flanagan
This year I'm taking part in a Continental Challenge, where I read one book set in or written by an author from each continent. Up first is South America, for which I selected In the Time of The Butterflies by Julia Alvarez. It's historical fiction based the Mirabal sisters who were active in attempts to end the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic between the 1940s and 1960 when they were brutally murdered by the regime.

I know absolutely nothing about the Dominican Republic. Honestl
Oct 23, 2011 Arcadius rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: f-latin-america

I was bored and disappointed by this. The initial chapters, covering the childhood and schooldays of the Mirabal sisters, seemed promising enough. And I have no complaints about the final scenes, where the tension was certainly screwed up very tight.

But in the middle was a wasteland of mundane domesticity, which Alvarez doesn’t know how to render interesting even when it’s spiced up with low-key revolutionary activity. As for the latter, I could never quite work out what the active members of th
Lynette Sheppard
Julia Alvarez takes us deeply into a little known history of tyranny and revolution in the Dominican Republic. Based on real sister activists known as the "butterflies", this fictional account blends actual events with the hearts and minds of these women. In other words, we experience these events with the sisters. Alvarez (who fled the Dominican Republic with her family at age 10 for New York) illuminates interesting questions such as what politicizes a person? What makes them an activist? How ...more
Kristen Elise
Sep 20, 2013 Kristen Elise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What an intriguing book. A cleverly told, heartfelt insight into a period of history that many people know very little about. I felt I was living under the Trujillo regime, and I'd imagine that the experience there is similar to anyone living under any brutal dictator at any moment in time.

The only disappointment (and this isn't a spoiler) is the enormous author's note at the very end, in which the author basically states that she made the whole thing up and that in reality, she knows very, very
3.5 stars

(My original review got sucked into the ether, which is probably a good thing as it was more political rant than review that had little or nothing to do with the book, but my motivation for reading this novel was partially fueled by encountering this article: )

The core subject of Julia Alvarez' In the Time of the Butterflies (the saga of the four Mirabal sisters and their role in attempting to topple the bloody, 31 year-long tyrannical reign of
McKenna Knudsen
This book is well written, though I flip-flopped through it. Some parts were page turners, and I really got into it. But some parts were boring and dry. I did enjoy how it takes turns from each sister's point of view, and how each sister has a different style of writing.

My favorite part was any time Maria Teresa was writing. She covered many interesting things, and I enjoyed her journal entries. She kept secrets from the reader, and it made me want to read more to figure out what she was hiding.
Moving and heartfelt, fictionalised account of the lives of the Mirabal sisters in the Dominican Republic under the tyranical regime of the Dictator Trujillo.

Theres something about Hispanic writing and settings that I really warm too. The close knit extended families, the powerful language, Limondas on the verandah in a tropical garden. Passionate emotional characters. This had the added bonus or a true and tragic story and the sense of what it must be like to live at first relatively normal liv
Margaret Murray
Jul 08, 2011 Margaret Murray rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Even though I was frightened of the subject matter of In the Time of the Butterflies--based on true and bloody events in the infamous regime of Trujillo in the mid-20th century--I was pulled into it by the narrator, the only sister of four who was spared, speaking in the present as she answers questions from a journalist who, like so many others, reveres and idolizes the sacrifices the four "Butterflies" and their family made to achieve democracy in the Dominican Republic. And when the narrator ...more
Sep 12, 2015 Caren rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
I read this for a book discussion group at the library. I hadn't known anything about the Dominican Republic, so this book introduced me to the time of the dictatorship of Trujillo (1930-1961) in that country. The book is a work of historical fiction, which made it more interesting to me. The main characters, the Mirabal sisters, were real people, martyrs of the revolution to overthrow Trujillo. Their story is told through the alternating voices of the sisters. We all agreed that this could be c ...more
Jan 05, 2015 Michael rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I REALLY tried to get into these book,but had a difficult time reading it. Can someone please explain to me,what in the world is this book about? It went from a pointless interview to a meaningless mini plots that was not consistent with the synopsis.

Absolutely no characterization,the characters became forgettable,the moment I tossed the page. I can't explain anything to you,I question why I read so far.

Boring,inconsistent,sloppy and forgettable.
Lisa (Harmonybites)
In her Postscript, Alvarez wrote that she wanted the book to "immerse my readers in an epoch in the life of the Dominican Republic." I think she succeeded magnificently. She tells the story of the Trujillo era, when the small island republic was under the heel of one of the more notorious dictators of Latin America. She tells it by giving us a fictionalized account of the Mirabel sisters, known as the "Mariposas" (butterflies) who are national heroes.

If you'd have described this book to me, I'd
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500 Great Books B...: In the Time of the Butterflies - Julia Alvarez - Brina 1 5 Dec 04, 2016 06:00PM  
Spanish language entries in In the Time of the Butterflies 7 69 Oct 12, 2014 09:02AM  
Dominican Republic 4 44 Dec 06, 2013 08:16AM  
  • Dreaming in Cuban
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  • So Far from God
  • Caramelo
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  • When I Was Puerto Rican
  • Esperanza's Box of Saints
  • Bitter Grounds
  • Forgetting the Alamo, Or, Blood Memory
  • The Hummingbird's Daughter
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  • In Cuba I Was a German Shepherd
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  • Imagining Argentina
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...

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