Before We Were Free is a historical fiction novel that would be appropriate for students in middle school or h**spoiler alert**
Summary and Analysis:
Before We Were Free is a historical fiction novel that would be appropriate for students in middle school or high school. Before We Were Free is set in the Dominican Republic- under the rule of a dictator and spans the years before, during, and after a revolution. The novel's protagonist is a twelve year old girl named Anita whose family is among the group of people who seek to bring freedom to the country. Although Anita suffers much hardship and loss in the years before freedom, the book ends with a message of hope.
I listened to the audio recording of this book. Julia Alvarez, the author, is the narrator of this particular recording. To be honest, Before We Were Free is the first novel that I ever listened to on CD and I am glad I did. I couldn't help but admire the way the author read her book exactly the way she must have heard the words in her head as she was writing them.
Additionally, the quality of the author's voice enriched the story for me. The author speaks with a slight accent, which brought authenticity to the words, as the book was written in first person point of view. This also made the Spanish language within the book seem natural. The author's voice also has a youthful quality- which made me believe the first person point of view narration was really coming from a twelve year old girl.
Further, the author's choice to use first person point of view in Before We Were Free brought much to the story, regardless of whether you read the book or listened to the book. I found myself really identifying with Anita throughout the whole course of the novel. I found the whole confusion and danger of a revolution to be more realistic as it was described through the relatively innocent eyes of a young girl. In fact, the gradual loss of Anita's innocence was all the more shocking because of the way this story was told.
On a side note, I happened to be listening to the audio recording of Esperanza Rising at the same time and I was startled at the contrast between the two books. These two novels have a great deal in common, their progtagonists are both girls of about the same age, the protagonists' families are both relatively wealthy landowners, both have to flee their countries, both lose family members, etc. However, I found myself liking Before We Were Free much more due to the fact that it was written in first person point of view and read by the author on the audio version. Esperanza Rising is written in third person limited point of view and the audio recording that I listened to is not read by the author. In my opinion, that particular reader is not particularly good because she lacks the passion that Julia Alvarez had. ...more
Day of Tears is a historical fiction novel that would be appropriate for students in intermediate or middle grades. The tex**spoiler alert**
Day of Tears is a historical fiction novel that would be appropriate for students in intermediate or middle grades. The text would not be difficult for a reader within this age range, however, the format of the text might provide some challenges to some readers.
Day of Tears centers around the largest slave auction in American history. Although the plot within Day of Tears is expressed through only dialogue, the literary elements are well developed and the characters are complex.
The main protagonist of the book is a young slave girl named Emma who works in the house of a large Georgia plantation owner, Pierce Butler, and cares for his two children: Sarah and Frances. Mr. Butler's gambling debts eventually cause him to sell all but 21 of his slaves; sending over 400 men, women, and children to the auction block. In one of the most hardwrenching scenes of the book, Mr. Butler goes back on his word and sells Emma with little warning. Emma, along with a childhood friend named Joe, are transported to Kentucky to work on a smaller plantation. It is in Kentucky that Emma and Joe first hear of the freedom that awaits them on the other side of the Ohio river.
Overall, Day of Tears deals with the historical event known as "the Weeping Time" in a realistic way while still keeping in mind the maturity level of the target audience of adolescent readers. ...more