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In the Time of the Butterflies

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4.14  ·  Rating details ·  49,864 ratings  ·  3,663 reviews
Set during the waning days of the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic in 1960, this extraordinary novel tells the story of the Mirabal sisters, three young wives and mothers who are assassinated after visiting their jailed husbands.

From the author of How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents comes this tale of courage and sisterhood set in the Dominican Republic
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Paperback, 324 pages
Published August 1995 by Plume (first published January 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.
Julie There are several sexual scenes. You may want to screen it. I'm pretty conservative and did not find them gratuitous, but I would not recommend to my…moreThere are several sexual scenes. You may want to screen it. I'm pretty conservative and did not find them gratuitous, but I would not recommend to my teenage daughters.
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4.14  · 
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Brina
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
Better 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
Fabian
Jul 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Favorite novel so far this year (2018). The last twentyfive pages are all outbursts of sobs & of the truly ugly kind, by an inconsolable reader. Oh this one is GREAT! Smudgy words of a wounded family tree, the very human lasting lamentation...

There are 2 novels* in existence (that I am wholly aware of) that put the D.R. under the Trujillo regime under a magnifying glass that illuminates the complexities, the ugliness, of absolute dictatorships (to be deftly simplistic) and fraught societal n
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Sarah
Jan 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Sara
Feb 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In the time of Batista and the revolution in Cuba, there was another dictator, as bad or worse, ruling in the Dominican Republic. His name was Trujillo, and his preferred way of keeping his power was murdering anyone who challenged him, spoke a word against him, or displeased him in any way. In the midst of this repression, we find the four Mirabal sisters, Minerva, Dede, Patria and Maria-Teresa (Mate). This fictional account of their lives is riveting and oh so bittersweet.

The sisters have bec
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Crumb
I hate reviewing books that I only found mediocre. I really, really wanted to like this one. I thought the plot was very promising. Frankly, I really didn't know much about Trujillo's dictatorship in the Dominican Republic and I thought by reading this I would learn a lot.. and I did. I just wasn't captivated by the story or the characters. However, this book was based on fact and that should count for something. I also think that in this case, it was me, not the book. Just like when a boyfriend ...more
Helen
Nov 27, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Snotchocheez
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: http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_582... )

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
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Sarah
Feb 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At the age of 10 years old Julia Alvarez had to flee the Dominican Republic because her father had gotten on the wrong side of the Trujillo regime. A strong desire to understand this particular time period, and what happened to Las Mariposas, caused Alvarez to write this book.

This book is told in alternating first person POVs from each of the four sisters over a period of 22 years. We know that the Butterflies did indeed die in 1960 but it doesn't take the horror out of the moment when Dedé find
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Viv JM
I loved this fictionalised account of the lives and deaths of the Mirabal sisters. The author gives each sister a distinct voice and motivation for rebelling against the Trujillo regime. She makes them very human and flawed and I think that makes the reader really think about what can give a person the courage to stand up for what they believe. Highly recommended.
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
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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
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dianne
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
Emma Taylor
May 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
☮Karen
Jul 20, 2012 rated it liked it
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 st ...more
Zanna
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
Erin
Jan 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
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Glenn
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
Chrissie
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
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Lorena
Mar 21, 2009 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
Xueting
Gorgeous writing!!! that kept me engaged even when the tone got more and more serious and dark. Alvarez said that though she did a lot of research she took some creative liberties by inventing and collapsing details, but she ultimately wanted to bring out the spirit of the Mirabal sisters as she imagined them. And I really connected to them, women in the early 20th century Dominican Republic who had more fiery courage than I may ever have in my life! I love how, from this novel, I learnt not onl ...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Aug 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
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Judy
Dec 05, 2011 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
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Mrs. Reed
Sep 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Robert Case
Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, history
In the early 1960's the author, Julia Alvarez, arrived in NYC, fleeing with her family from the tyranny of the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic. She was a young girl. Her father had been part of a resistance cell plotting against the regime. The secret police arrested him before the revolt could begin. A few months after her family's exile, the same secret police would murder three brave sisters on a remote mountain road, along with their driver. They were attempting to return to ...more
Lisa Vegan
I can’t rate this book with 5 stars because its fiction/non-fiction format drove me crazy. I’d rather have had a non-fiction book about the Mirabal sisters. Given that there is one surviving sister I’d hope that wasn’t an impossible feat. If it really was, however, then I’d rather this historical fiction story have had entirely fictional characters as the main characters. The pertinent real people could have taken on more minor roles in the story, and then I wouldn’t have minded their fictionali ...more
Rusalka
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
Kate
Mar 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
"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
Arcadius
Oct 16, 2011 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
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Carmen
Aug 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Four smart and lovely sisters growing Up during Trujillo's regime, their parents try to cling to security and imagine a life for their daughters far from any danger, a haven in Ojo del Agua, but reality always cuts like a knife and tears the lives of the best ones. Patria,Dede,Minerva and Mate are not bond to live unnotice, they are fierce and bold, willing to fight injustice. Therefore they will devote to revolution. Minerva is the most passionate but their sisters quickly follow suit.
Julia Álv
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Around the World ...: Discussion for In the Time of Butterflies 9 45 Jun 02, 2019 04:34PM  
Play Book Tag: In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez- 4 stars 2 14 May 26, 2018 10:28PM  
Latinx Lit UConn: The Butterfly Effect 1 1 Dec 18, 2017 07:30AM  
IDP#3 1 1 Dec 03, 2017 06:24PM  
Latinx Lit UConn: Julia's review for Butterflies 1 5 Nov 28, 2017 08:48AM  

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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
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