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In the Time of the Butterflies

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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 during the rise of the Trujillo dictatorship. A skillful blend of fact and fiction, In the Time of the Butterflies is inspired by the true story of the three Mirabal sisters who, in 1960, were murdered for their part in an underground plot to overthrow the government. Alvarez breathes life into these historical figures--known as "las mariposas," or "the butterflies," in the underground--as she imagines their teenage years, their gradual involvement with the revolution, and their terror as their dissentience is uncovered.

Alvarez's controlled writing perfectly captures the mounting tension as "the butterflies" near their horrific end. The novel begins with the recollections of Dede, the fourth and surviving sister, who fears abandoning her routines and her husband to join the movement. Alvarez also offers the perspectives of the other sisters: brave and outspoken Minerva, the family's political ringleader; pious Patria, who forsakes her faith to join her sisters after witnessing the atrocities of the tyranny; and the baby sister, sensitive Maria Teresa, who, in a series of diaries, chronicles her allegiance to Minerva and the physical and spiritual anguish of prison life.

In the Time of the Butterflies is an American Library Association Notable Book and a 1995 National Book Critics Circle Award nominee.

324 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1994

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About the author

Julia Alvarez left the Dominican Republic for the United States in 1960 at the age of ten. She is the author of six novels, three books of nonfiction, three collections of poetry, and eleven books for children and young adults. She has taught and mentored writers in schools and communities across America and, until her retirement in 2016, was a writer-in-residence at Middlebury College. Her work has garnered wide recognition, including a Latina Leader Award in Literature from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, the Hispanic Heritage Award in Literature, the Woman of the Year by Latina magazine, and inclusion in the New York Public Library’s program “The Hand of the Poet: Original Manuscripts by 100 Masters, from John Donne to Julia Alvarez.” In the Time of the Butterflies, with over one million copies in print, was selected by the National Endowment for the Arts for its national Big Read program, and in 2013 President Obama awarded Alvarez the National Medal of Arts in recognition of her extraordinary storytelling.

Photo copyright by Brandon Cruz González

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 5,335 reviews
Profile Image for Brina.
933 reviews4 followers
December 2, 2016
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 Mirabal sisters who came to be known as the symbol of the revolution, Alvarez reveals the fate of those left behind.

Minerva Mirabal always wanted more than to be a simple country woman like her mother. In a machismo culture where few women learned to read and write, she did not have a future although her dream was to go to law school. Her older sister Patria Mercedes believed to have a religious calling, and their middle sister Dede was the obedient one who went along with the other two. By age ten, the three sisters entered the La Escuela de Imaculada Concepcion and started down the path to both a higher education and to learning revolutionary ideals.

Using poetic prose, Alvarez writes how the three older Mirabal sisters and their youngest sister Maria Teresa "Mate" came of age to be modern women. No longer would they be subservient members of a machismo culture but productive members of society who would make a difference going forward. Alternating chapters from the point of view of each sister, Alvarez expresses how each came to be a revolutionary from a unique place. Especially powerful, were the diary entries written by Mate throughout her life as she grasps what joining the movement would do to herself and her family.

The sisters either married a cousin as was expected or for love, and all four couples played a role in the revolution that would take down Trujillo and bring democracy to the island. Known as the mariposas and meeting clandestinely outside the home of Patria and her husband Pedrito, the guerilla movement took root. Even their young children wanted to participate despite the danger involved. Trujillo's spies planted themselves on Mirabal land, equally determined to squash the masterminds behind the rebellion. This lead the extended family to live in constant fear and had me as a reader mesmerized by Alvarez' writing, showing she is gifted in relating powerful emotions across more than one genre.

November 25, 1960, the day of the real life Mirabal sisters abduction and murder, is now the International Day Toward Violence Against Women. Through the courage and unwavering attitude of the Mirabal sisters and their families, the revolution occurred less than a year later. Alvarez points out in her postscript that even Dominicans living in the United States knew of the bravery of the Mirabal girls. In this powerful book which I rate 4.5 bright stars, Julia Alvarez tells her readers "Vivan las mariposas" so that we never forget these courageous Mirabals.
Profile Image for Angela M .
1,308 reviews2,191 followers
December 7, 2019
“I believe in the power of stories to change the world.” Julia Alvarez says this in the opening of her note at the end of this compelling, all encompassing novel. It’s based on the true story of three sisters who lost their lives because they bravely stood up for their ideals of a better life for themselves, their family and the people of the Dominican Republic as part of the revolutionary movement against a dictator, Rafael Trujillo. I already believed in the power of stories, but this beautifully written, heart breaking and ultimately uplifting book drove home for me just how impactful and important well done historical fiction can be.

In alternating narratives, spanning several decades, the Mirabal sisters, Patria, Minerva, Maria Teresa and Dede, the fourth sister who survives, come to life in these pages. It was easy to love them as young girls and see how they developed through the years, becoming privy to their individualities as well as their bonds with each other, the men in their lives. This is an engrossing story of a family in a place and time of political upheaval, of which I knew next to nothing about. How these women in a place and time when these are not things that women do, become involved in a political revolution, as resistors to Trujillo’s regime, smuggling arms, building bombs depicts the conviction and bravery of the real sisters. This is evident in the meticulous research that Alvarez must have done as the numerous articles I read online showed.

It’s about family, country, culture and a revolution. The Mirabal sister were three among many who were killed under Trujillo’s rule, but they became a symbol of the revolution and the inspiration behind the United Nation declaring November 25th, the day on which they were killed as “an international day to eliminate all violence against women.” It’s a personal story for Alvarez, whose family escaped the regime for New York just months before the sisters were murdered. It’s a beautifully written, gripping story. I will most definitely read other books by her.

Thanks so much to Algonquin Books for sending me a copy of this 25th Anniversary edition.
Profile Image for Petra on hiatus, really unwell.
2,457 reviews34.4k followers
February 10, 2017
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 and I'm familiar with the bloody, murderous Trujillo regime so I was extremely disappointed with the sickly treatment of such an important subject.

This story is about the four Mirabal sisters who opposed the Trujillo regime resulting in the assassination of three of them. They are Santo Domingan heroes for their resistance and also for their feminist stance. The author has turned this into light fiction... I would rather have read an unembellished non-fiction book about the sisters leaving out the silliness, invented dialogue and all that goes into writing a semi-historical novel.

Profile Image for s.penkevich.
965 reviews6,829 followers
May 8, 2023
It’s about time we women had a voice in running our country.

Rafael Trujillo’s 31 years of power in the Dominican Republic is considered one of the most violent reigns in the Americas. An estimated 9,000-20,000 Haitians were executed under his command and his heavy handed rule was known for frequent violations of civil rights and freedoms. In the Time of the Butterlies by Dominican-American author and poet Julia Alvarez is a fictionalized account of the Mirabal sisters—code-named mariposas—who famously organized against Trujillo and the assasination of three of the four sisters shocked the world and made them a symbol of feminist resistance. Told in the voices of each sister framed as a recounting from the surviving sister, Dedé, who bookends the novel, Alvarez chronicles them from childhood to active participants in the resistance, spanning from 1943 to 1960 with Dedé’s portion set in the 90s. In the Time of the Butterflies is a deeply moving portrait of family, love and courage in the face of unspeakable horrors, beautifully told by Alvarez to highlight the cruelty and violence of dictatorships but to also shine a light of hope and give voice to the human spirit of resistance as was demonstrated by these young women even in the face of inevitable death.

Mirabal sisters

I’m lucky to live in a community where each year we have a community book reading and events for the NEA’s Big Read. This was the novel chosen for 2019 and I was honored to help out with some of the planning for the art events in which the local schools participated in. I love this book and it was an excellent chance to have a hand in turning reading into visual expression to further examine the novel’s ideas and messages. This is a great book for a community read, particularly how it emphasizes the role of women and demonstrates the strength of unity to make change even up against a violent powerhouse. Through being told in rotating voices of the sisters through their years, it also gives voice to a wide variety of ages and shows how children can have astute observations and ideas as they observe the world around them and recognize problems. Far too often through history and even the present does society overlook the voices of women and children who are just as oppressed, if not more, by the forces they speak out against as anyone else. This is a powerful book with a powerful message and Alvarez makes it so engaging as to truly grab hold of your heart and mind to inspire and uplift.

And that’s how I got free … and realized that I’d just left a small cage to go into a bigger one, the size of our whole country.

The Mirabal sisters are well known for their actions and Alvarez has created a loving tribute to them here. Daughters of a landowner who fell into a great deal of money, it also is a reminder that those who have must make sacrifices for those who do not or there can never be real change. This is mirrored by the actual direction shift of the Catholic Church, as is covered in the book, when the Catholic Church having moved from being supporting of Trujillo to denouncing him as resistance to him increased. It is casually observed that the church’s former silence was also what allowed so many atrocities to continue unchecked thus far, with the mariposas also recognizing their silence would also imply complicity. Several of the sisters initially wish to cast a blind eye over the problems facing their country, knowing they are secure, but the heavy amalgamation of injustices and the urging of Minerva, the third and most headstrong of the sisters, open their eyes and they look inwards to ask what can they possibly do. The shifting perspective allows multiple vantage points for the main events of the novel, offering a variety of opinions on them. The voices could perhaps have been a bit more varied, but having the Maria sections written as her diary is a nice touch and each sister is well nuanced and fully realized with personality, opinion, desires and dreams. It is clear Alvarez cares for these characters and her heartfelt treatment ensures you certainly will too.

Everything is for sale here, everything but your freedom.

Minerva comes of age watching the horrors of the regime all around her, seeing her history books replaced with false history, knowing schoolmates' parents have been detained or executed by Trujillo, and absorbs a deep sense of resistance in her heart. ‘Sometimes, watching the rabbits in their pens,’ she thinks early in the novel, ‘I’m no different from you, poor things.’ She attempts to liberate them but finds she is hurting them in the process. She learns early that not everyone wants to be free, and that sometimes harm can come from fighting for freedom, something she is wary of throughout the novel but made more keenly aware of the costs and consequences she must have courage against. When she meets Trujillo at an event she attempts to convince him to let her into lawschool but resists his advances (having learned Trujillo has a lust for young girls who are raped and kept in private homes for his pleasure, such as happens to her classmate Lina), and this lands her father in prison. This becomes the spark for her activism and the novel really takes off from here.

. No one had to tell me to believe in God or to love everything that lives. I did it automatically like a shoot inching its way towards the light.

Religion is a theme that threads throughout the novel, being shown as an important part of the community and also appearing through religious symbolism and allusions, such as the aformentioned parallels between the sisters and the Church. For Patria, religion takes a deeper purpose in her character. Having refused to participate in her sister’s resistance efforts, she turns all her attention to religion and family but begins to lose faith after repeatedly having stillborne children. ‘After I lost the baby, I felt a strange vacancy,’ she says, ‘I was an empty house with a sign in front, Se Vende, For Sale. Any vagrant thought could take me.’ However, when she is able to have a child it renews her faith, (‘My faith stirred’) and this rebirth leads her into joining her sisters in the resistance through a priest-organized sector of advocacy.

The novel covers a lot of ground, but does so in very unique ways. While this is a novel full of violence, much of it takes place off-stage and the character’s minds are often on daily life as much as they are the Cause. Alvarez keeps the perspective very close to the issues of the family, thus demonstrating that the resistance is not just something you do in the streets or in moments of action, but an ongoing commitment that breathes in every aspect of your life. The novel is darkest when the sister’s are separated, with husbands and Minerva stuck in prison but also is a key look at the importance of community. Those outside support each other while their family members are incarcerated while on the inside Minerva gives all she has to everyone else in the prison. Even those who were not part of the cause, always finding new ways to help, heal, and hopefully recruit towards resisting the dictatorship.

As one would expect from the sad history of these women, this is a novel about an assassination (not a spoiler, you know from page 1). In reality, the men who murdered the three sisters were eventually held accountable, and it was confirmed that the orders had come from Trujillo himself. During his trial, one of the killers said that ‘Trujillo would have killed us all,’ had they not followed the orders, demonstrating just how much Trujillo ruled by fear and violence. In 1999, the UN designated the day of their murder, November 25th, to be the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women to honor them and raise awareness.

In the Time of Butterflies is an affecting tale of courage and community that gives a much needed voice to these brave women who had theirs silenced far too early. In the afterword, Alvarez writes ‘I believe in the power of stories to change the world,’ and her work here is certainly an excellent addition to the sparks of change that can be found in great literature.

Profile Image for Fabian.
956 reviews1,623 followers
April 27, 2020
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'm 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 norms (to say the least). But we Americans don't know nothing of such tyrannical totalitarianisms, right?

The Mirabal sisters are heroes, martyrs. Wealthier than other families, they all have the Revolutionary Heart that goes well with legend and can be displayed in almost majestic light in literature, as occurs here. How they get to this place of public adulation, or near Sainthood, it is your absolute pleasure to read about in Alvarez's stunner. Definitely a major work of Latin American Historical fiction (the other perfect novel that is a companion piece in many respects to this is Mario Vargas Llosa's opus "The Feast of the Goat"*).

Basically, it's "Little Women" in hell.
Profile Image for Crumb.
189 reviews539 followers
September 26, 2019
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 breaks up with his girlfriend and says "Its me, not you." I did however appreciate it for what it was: An enlightening story about a dark time in Latin American history. I also am grateful that I completed it and learned more about this time period.
Profile Image for Sarah.
20 reviews
April 6, 2014
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 thought she was fearless... and on the contrary, how much fear she did feel, how she couldn't breathe, how she didn't know if she could do it... and how she just stepped forward anyway. Feeling the fear, and walking right into it. It really spoke to me at the time; I'd leapt into this crazy adventure, all by myself, with a backpack and a map, in the middle of nowhere, at a young age... and no one could understand what I was doing... really, neither could I, but somehow I knew that I needed to do it; I needed to conquer this thing. I had never read such an apt description of what that feels like.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews47 followers
November 14, 2020
In the Time of the Butterflies, Julia Alvarez

In the Time of the Butterflies is a historical fiction novel by Julia Alvarez, relating a fictionalized account of the Mirabal sisters during the time of the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic. The book is written in the first and third person, by and about the Mirabal sisters. First published in 1994, the story was adapted into a feature film in 2001.

The story of the four Mirabal sisters, during the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic.

At school, one of the sisters, Minerva, meets a girl, Sinita, who later became one of her best friends. Sinita eventually confided in Minerva the truth about Trujillo - that their "glorious" leader was a killer.

The sisters make a political commitment to overthrow the Trujillo regime. They are harassed, persecuted, and imprisoned, all while their family suffers retaliation from the Military Intelligence Service (SIM).

As vengeance for their political activities, Trujillo orders three of the sisters be killed on Puerto Plata Road, with their driver Rufino, while returning from visiting their husbands in jail.

The women and driver are beaten to death and later their vehicle and bodies are dumped off a cliff in order to make their deaths look like an accident. ...

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز دهم ماه آگوست سال 2007میلادی

عنوان: در زمانه‌ی پروانه‌ها ؛ نویسنده: خولیا آلوارز، مترجم: حسن مرتضوی؛ در 1385، در 385ص؛ شابک 9789647188999؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان امریکایی - سده 20م

امریکای لاتین در سده ی بیستم میلادی مهد پرورش دیکتاتورهایی همچون «ترخیو» بود.؛ مردی که بر جمهوری «دومنیکن» فرمان میراند، و در طول سی و یک سال حکومت خود بر آن کشور، از هیچ جنایتی روی برنگرداند، و تا زمانیکه آن جنایتکار، در ماشین خود به ضرب گلوله کشته شد، مردمان آن کشور هیچگاه خود را رها از یوغ اسارت ندیدند.؛ آنها دیگر آزاد بودند.؛ ولی انسانهایی برای آزادی جان خود را از دست دادند.؛ کسانی همچون خواهران «میرابال»؛ سه خواهر به نام های «پاتریا مرسدس»، «مینروا» و «ماریا ترزا»، که در جمهوری «دومینیکن» پا به پای همسران خود، علیه رژیم دیکتاتور به مبارزه برخاستند، و هر سه به عنوان نماد مبارزه، و مقاومت، علیه آن حکومت خونخوار شناخته شدند.؛ آنها در راستای مبارزاتشان، مورد آزار و اذیت رژیم قرار گرفتند، به زندان افتاده، و شکنجه های بسیاری را تحمل کردند، و با این وجود به مبارزات خود ادامه دادند، و در آن راه کشته شدند.؛ این خواهران که به آنها لقب پروانه های فراموش نشدنی داده شده، به مظهر مقاومت و مبارزه، علیه خودکامگی تبدیل گشتند.؛ شرح زندگی و مبارزات خوهران «میرابال»، الهام بخش نگارش رمانی، با عنوان «در زمانه ی پروانه ها»، توسط «خولیا آلوارز»، نویسنده ی صاحب اندیشه ی «آمریکایی» «دومینیکنی» تبار شد؛ وی با این رمان، غبار زمان را از داستان زندگی سه خواهر زدود، و بار دیگر یاد و خاطره ی آنها را زنده کرد.؛ این کتاب داستانی سیاسی-اجتماعی، و بر پایه ی واقعیتهای تاریخی زمان دیکتاتوری «تروخیو» نگاشته شده است، که شخصیتهای آن، تنها زاده ی خیال نویسنده نیستند، که زنانی واقعی هستند، و صرفأ داستانی درباره ی اسطوره های «دومینیکنی» نیست، بلکه درباره ی دختران معمولی است، و شرحی از مبارزات و مقاومتهایشان، به همراه تمام هراسها، و تردیدها، و شکنجه هایی، که در مسیر مبارزه، تاب آوردند؛ خواهرانی که سه تن از آنها در راه هدف خود کشته میشوند، و دده (خواهر بزرگتر) بجای میماند، تا داستان زندگی آنها را بازگو کند.؛

در این کتاب خوانشگر در هر بخش، با روایتی ساده، از زبان خود خواهران، به آرامی به درون زندگی آنها می��زد.؛ داستان از زبان «دده» آغاز میشود؛ او تنها خواهر بازمانده، از «میرابال»ها است، که پس از گذشت سی و چهار سال، از قتل خواهران خود، هنوز در گیرودار همان رخداد است.؛ در خانه ی خود بنشسته، و خبرنگاری به دیدن او میآید، و با پرسشهایی که از «دده» میپرسد، او را به گذشته ها پرتاب میکند، به سالها پیش، به لحظه ای که همچون نقطه ی صفر، در حافظه اش ثبت شده است.؛ پیش از آنکه آینده آغاز شود.؛ بار دیگر همه چیز در درون او زنده میشود...؛ در اینجا نویسنده داستان را از زبان «مینروا» ادامه میدهد.؛ وی به بازگویی زندگی خود، در کودکی، تا زمانیکه برای ادامه ی تحصیل به مدرسه ی «راهبه»ها فرستاده شد، میپردازد، و به جاییکه برای نخستین بار، تصویر تحقیر شده، و آسیب دیده از قدرت خودکامه ی «بز (نامی که دشمنان تروخیو بر وی نهادند)» در جلوی چشمان وی شکل میگیرد؛ «سینیا»، دخترکی سیاهپوش، که «تروخیو» همگی مردان خاندان وی را کشته، و اموال آنها را مصادره کرده است، و از شعله های انتقامیکه در وجود این دختر فقیر، زبانه کشیده سخن میگوید ...؛

سپس نویسنده به سراغ «ماریا ترزای» جوان میرود.؛ در اینجا داستان را از دفتر یادمانهای این خواهر پیش میبرد، و خوانشگر را با احساسات لطیف ایشان آشنا میکند.؛ سپس به «پاتریا» میپردازد، دختری که مانند قدیسها زندگی میکند، ولی در نهایت دل در گرو جوانی ساده میگذارد؛ و زندگی عادی کشاورزی را برمیگزیند.؛ به همین شکل، نویسنده بخش اول کتاب را به پایان میرساند.؛ در دو بخش دیگر نیز به روایتی ساده از دنیای زنانه ی این سه خواهر میپردازد، زنانیکه در لا به لای صفحات زندگیشان، سیاست نفس میکشد.؛ زنانی که زیر بنای زندگیشان را، بر پایه ی عشق و مبارزه علیه بی عدالتی بنا کرده اند، و برای از بین بردن سایه ی سیاه دیکتاتوری «تروخیو» بر کشورشان، از جان خود نیز بگذشتند.؛

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 23/06/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,010 reviews599 followers
February 27, 2020
Incredible story....
This book was first published in 1994.....
....then made into a film in 2001.

Thanks to my friend, Iris, for talking with me about this book....
....Iris grew up in Dominican Republic - and through our friendship she has told me her own stories about life, culture, and politics in the Dominican Republic.

This book
.....introduced to me a new author I had not read ...
only to discover how wonderful of a novelist Julia Alvarez is: a powerful historical fiction/nonfiction storyteller.
I plan to read more books by Alvarez.
She has a new book out in
April called, “Afterlife”.

“The Mirabal sisters didn’t disappear. They grew wings. They inspired novels, movies, plays, and dances. They inspired the United Nations to establish November 25, the day of their murder, as an international day to eliminate all violence against women”.
The sisters have become known in history as Los Mariposas-“ The Butterflies”

The sisters were among the leading opponents of
Gen. Rafael Leonidas Trujillo’s dictatorship.

Minerva, Patria, Maria Teresa, and survivor, Dedé— each told their own story.
....There were crushes.... marriages, children, divorces...
....There was gunrunning,
....There was prison torture,
....There were horrors - frightening devastating under Trujillo’s rule.

....There was also the day that Trujillo was assassinated by a group of seven men: some were his old buddies.

By age 10, three sisters entered the La Escuela de
Imaculada Concepcion.
It was the beginning of getting a higher education and learning revolutionary ideals.

Through education, the youngest sister Maria Teresa ‘Mate’, oldest sister Minerva and Patria — developed themselves into modern women, no longer slavish, obedient members of the machismo culture.

There was a forth sister: Dedé.
She was the middle sister ....the most obedient ....
...the sister who survived to tell the story.

The family suffered retaliation from the military intelligence service (SIM).
As vengeance for their political activities, Trujillo ordered the three sisters to be killed on Puerto Plata Road...
Their driver, Rufino, was killed also.
The sisters were returning from visiting their husbands in jail.
They were beaten to death and later the vehicle and bodies were dumped off a cliff in order to make their deaths look like an accident.

Julia Alvarez heard about—ha...”the accident” when she herself was just a young girl.
She couldn’t get the Mirabal sisters out of her mind and took frequent trips back to the Dominican republic to seek out as much information she could.

The sisters were incredibly courageous - they willingly risked their lives doing what few men had done - they fought for justice. Sadly, it resulted in their deaths.

Alvarez gave us factual details... and her creation of the Mirabals..
It was easy to see how much ‘care’ Julia Alvarez had for the sisters: each with specific personalities and temperaments.

By the end of this book, I felt much admiration for Alvarez.
With her diligent research -
and a pure heart ..she found a way to keep the sisters spirit alive for me.
I also have a better understanding of the nightmare - the sacrifices - the suffering -and losses they endured.

“You must show the nation you are it’s jewels, Immaculada Concepcion girls. Is that perfectly clear?”
it’s clear: ( so deeply sad, frightening and painfully heartbreaking to think about the insanity the women faced)...
But yes...
.... the sisters ‘did’ show us they were “jewels”!

Thus was a wonderful fiction/nonfiction book — rich with history—page turning storytelling.....
Grateful I read it!

Thanks, Iris!

Profile Image for Sara.
Author 1 book563 followers
February 16, 2017
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 become known in history as Los Mariposas (the butterflies), but each of these women was a distinct and different person. Each was motivated by a different urge and desire. Each was trying to find her own voice. But above all, they were for one another, with one another, loved one another. Their bravery ranged from raw courage to a simple inability to desert someone well-loved. That they put aside their own safety for the preservation of the collective serves as an echo of what true revolution is. What true defiance means. I wonder at their strength and feel cowed by it.

When I finished this book, I was literally shaking with sadness and anger. Knowing it is based upon real events makes it all the more poignant, and Alvarez has done a magnificent job of breathing life back into these women who were martyred for the cause of freedom in the Dominican Republic. She alternates between the points of view of the sisters, and in doing so brings each of them to life equally. While Minerva is the star of the revolution, each of the other sisters brings her own personality, fears and desires to the table and we, the readers, are handed a feast. At the outset, we know the fate of these women, but the old axiom that the journey is more important than the destination could not be more true than when applied here.

In her postscript to my edition, Julia Alvarez acknowledges having merged actual events and imposed her own interpretation onto others. She states, “I sometimes took liberties--by changing dates, by reconstructing events, and by collapsing characters or incidents. For I wanted to immerse my readers in an epoch in the life of the Dominican Republic that I believe can only finally be understood by fiction, only finally be redeemed by the imagination. A novel is not, after all, a historical document, but a way to travel through the human heart.

She has achieved her goal admirably. I felt the beating of these hearts and at some point in the story their heartbeats seemed to merge with my own.
Profile Image for Thomas.
1,520 reviews8,988 followers
July 30, 2021
I totally respect and appreciate how this novel emphasizes feminist resistance to an oppressive dictatorship. I thought Julia Alvarez did a nice job of interspersing the effects of patriarchy on these four sisters both on interpersonal and systemic levels. At the same time, I struggled to connect with this novel because I found the writing style so off-putting. The epistolary format felt impersonal, the writing as a whole came across as bland, and I found it difficult to distinguish between the different characters’ voices. It looks like my opinion resides within the minority based on Goodreads’ ratings for this novel; I like how others walked away feeling more touched by this novel than I did.

*also I know I took a brief hiatus from reviews because of the Goodreads glitch I posted about here, wish I was coming back with more of an exciting review but it is what it is. thanks again everyone for your support and validation when I was going through it :)
Profile Image for Maziyar Yf.
531 reviews279 followers
April 12, 2023
در زمان پروانه ها رمانی ایست تاریخی نوشته خولیا آلوارز نویسنده اهل دومینیکن . او در این کتاب به زندگی خواهران میرابال و مبارزات آنها در زمان دیکتاتوری رافائل تروخیو پرداخته .
آلوارز کوشیده زندگی میرابال ها ( مینروا ، ماریا ترسا ، پاتریا و دده ) را از کودکی ، جوانی ، روگرداندن آنها از تروخیو ، پیوستن آنها به گروه مقاومت و در پایان سرانجام آنها را توصیف کند . اوگرچه تلاش کرده تصویری حقیقی و به دور از هر گونه اسطوره سازی از میرابل ها نشان دهد اما در پایان کتاب اعتراف کرده که میرابل های کتاب مخلوق او هستند و شاید هم شباهت چندانی با میرابل های واقعی نداشته باشند .
نویسنده بیشتر تلاش کرده تا خواننده را با دوره ای از تاریخ دومینیکن آشنا کند که کشور دردوران دیکتاتوری تروخیو سخت ترین ، خونین ترین زمان خود را سپری می کرده . شوربختانه خانم آلوارز تصویری کلیشه ای از تروخیو به خواننده نشان داده . ال خِفه در کتاب او تنها مرد زن باره ای ایست که گویا هدفش از کسب قدرت تنها هم آغوشی با زنان است .
خواهران میرابال و برادران لیلا

خواندن کتاب در زمان پروانه ها همراه شد با تماشای فیلم برادران لیلا . از آن جایی که هم در کتاب و هم در فیلم نقش اصلی بر عهده زنان است غیر ارادی مقایسه ای در ذهنم میان لیلا و خواهران میرابال شکل گرفت ، گرچه که هدف فیلم و کتاب کاملا با هم متفاوت هستند .
لیلا را باید برنده بی مانند این مقایسه دانست ، او در یک جبهه نمی جنگد ، جنگیدن او هم محدود به یک فرد و حتی یک زمان یا دورای از زمان هم نیست ، لیلا برخلاف میرابال ها کاری با مبارزه خشونت آمیز ندارد ، گرچه که از تنبیه هم روگردان نیست . او تا پایان داستان ایستاده است و مبارزه می کند . او گرچه برادرش منوچهر را به تحقیر عقل کل می خواند اما لیلا ست که در میانه نکبت زندگی و فلاکتی که آن ها را در بر گرفته است راه حلی عقلانی نشان می دهد ، بر خلاف برادرانش . لیلا اسیر در قید و بند احترام به بزرگتری که زندگی او و عزیزانش را نابود کرده نیست . اول اوست که آرزوی مرگ آن مردک متوهم بیمار مفنگی را می کند ، لیلاست که دروغ های کفتار پیر را نشان می دهد و درپایان او را هم تنبیه می کند به امید آن که شاید برادارانش هم اندکی آگاه شوند .
نمی توان از دومینیکن و تروخیو سخن گفت و شاهکار ماریو بارگاس یوسا سوربز را یاد نکرد . کتاب درخشان او را ��ه هیچ عنوان نمی توان با درزمان پروانه ها مقایسه کرد .
87 reviews
April 11, 2008
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, Dede, Minerva, and Mate.
And although, this book really is a 3 for me, I gave it 4 stars because of the afterword and the epilogue. Dede comes full circle if she, not Minerva, is the courageous one afterall. We all want the passion and dedication of the Minerva's, but what of the Dede's who live (sometimes the harder choice) and carry on the story?
Profile Image for Joy D.
2,066 reviews240 followers
December 11, 2019
“When as a young girl I heard about the ‘accident,’ I could not get the Mirabals out of my mind. On my frequent trips back to the Dominican Republic, I sought out whatever information I could find about these brave and beautiful sisters who had done what few men – and only a handful of women – had been willing to do. During that terrifying thirty-one-year regime, any hint of disagreement ultimately resulted in death for the dissenter and often for members of his or her family. Yet the Mirabals had risked their lives. I kept asking myself, What gave them that special courage? It was to understand that question that I began this story…So what you find here are the Mirabals of my creation, made up but, I hope, true to the spirit of the real Mirabals.” – Julia Alvarez, A Postscript, In the Time of the Butterflies

Historical fiction based on the real lives of the four Mirabal sisters living under the repressive dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, primarily set during the late 1940s to 1960. As the book opens, we understand that three of the four sisters have died. In 1994, the surviving sister, Dedé, is interviewed by a Dominican American writer to find out what happened. Each sister takes a turn narrating part of the story, giving the reader a glimpse into their differing personalities and reasons for getting involved in revolutionary activities. The sisters are the mariposas, Spanish for butterflies, referenced in the title.

This book provides an abundance of information about what life was like in the Dominican Republic under Trujillo. The characters are well-defined. The author uses a number of different perspectives in telling their stories, which at times seemed a bit of an odd choice, especially since only one of the characters is still living. On the plus side, it gives the reader a more fully formed picture of what the women valued and what they feared, enabling the reader to understand their motivations and actions. The author is skilled in holding the reader’s attention, despite knowing in advance how it will end. The Mirabal sisters are well-known in the Dominican Republic and this book is a beautiful tribute to their memory, bringing their dramatic, tragic, and heroic, story to a wider audience.
Profile Image for Mia.
336 reviews205 followers
October 16, 2015
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 shit out of me. I could not sympathise with any of the characters and it was more about who married whom and who is pregnant and what all the sisters are wearing who has a weird breastfeeding fetish (swear to god, it was in the book TWICE, I am not making this up).

The writing was quite bad as well- lots of telling and not much showing, and the plot just got swallowed up by the unbelievably insipid tone of the writing. I was expecting sisters banding together to fight an oppressive regime, what I got was a four hundred page account of fashion and periods and giggling and unhappy marriages that nobody does anything about, with an occasional paragraph thrown in to remind the reader that it takes place in the República Dominicana and that bad government stuff is happening. It is so vague when it should be specific and so specific when it should be vague.

I wish I could donate or sell my copy, but I was so frustrated whilst reading it that I scribbled angry annotations all over it. I'll include some pictures of my notes once I figure out how to put my own photos into a review.
Profile Image for Connie G.
1,736 reviews477 followers
February 9, 2020
In 1960, during the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic, three revolutionary sisters were murdered and their car was pushed off a mountain. The Mirabel sisters had been visiting their husbands, jailed as political prisoners, while their fourth sister stayed home with the children. The sisters were called "Las Mariposas", translated to "The Butterflies", which was Minerva's code name in the Fourteenth of June Movement.

The book gives voice to each of the sisters as it tells the story of their childhoods, and how they became involved in revolutionary activities against the Trujillo dictatorship. The fourth sister, Dede, frames the story in an interview with a journalist as she keeps their memory alive. Dede and her mother had large roles in caring for the children of the three assassinated sisters.

One can feel the terror of living in an authoritarian police state. An obligatory portrait of Trujillo is hung next to the picture of Jesus in the Mirabel home, giving Trujillo a godlike quality. With Minerva, Patria, and Maria Teresa each having chapters written in the first person, the book presents "Las Mariposas" as distinct individuals who each had her own reasons for joining the revolution. Julia Alvarez honors these sisters in a very compelling story.
Profile Image for HAMiD.
442 reviews
December 6, 2022
آن روز پرسیدم چه ماجرایی ست که جلاد، قصدِ کشتن زیباترین فرزندانِ این سرزمین کرده است هر بار؟ هر بار که داس کشیده است پاک ترین فرزندانِ آفتاب و باد را درو کرده است. نفرین و شرم بر تو باد! که مرگ نیز شرمسارِ اینهمه بی شرافتی توست! هر کجا که تو قدم نهاده باشی گیاه از رُستن تَن می زند چرا که تو به تقوای خاک و آب باور نداشتی دریده ای هر سینه را که در آن عشق جوانه زده است! ای سیه روزِ در تاریکی ات عاقبت هلاک! تو چرا اینگونه گمان برده ای که تا ابدیتِ دروغین جاودان خواهی ماند! کمی چشمهایتان را باز کنید از پشت دیوار شب غوای نونهالانِ سرزمین خورشید بساطتان را برخواهد چید
به احترامِ خواهرانِ میرابال و برای یک به یکِ دخترانِ جانِ ایران زمین

چهاردهم آذرماه، ماه آتش در سال هول و سقوطِ چهارده-یک هیچ
Profile Image for Chrissie.
2,780 reviews1,458 followers
December 8, 2019
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 proportions. This book is fiction. Neither myth nor fiction give us the true facts. I would have preferred that the epilogue clearly stated what is known and what is imagined.

The author wants to wipe out the mythic status of these women so that we readers can more easily relate to them as four individuals, four different women with different personality traits. Clearly one is portrayed as the rebel rouser, one is religious, one just hasn't the requisite courage and the fourth? Well, she is the youngest and this is evident all throughout the story. Does the author succeed? Do we readers empathize with them? Do we relate to one of the women more than another given our own specific personality traits? I did not empathize with any of them, although I did recognize their differences.

Each chapter title indicates which sister is speaking and the dates when the events in the chapter take place. Thus each chapter should reflect the views of one of the four sisters. You are given her thoughts. You are meant to see the events through her eyes. Something went wrong with this presentation: I frequently had to flip back to check which of the girls was speaking or when the events were occurring.

The bottom line is: I did NOT relate to the girls that well. I actually cringed when I had to get through the religious sister's chapters. Neither do I know if the author has portrayed their personalities correctly. This should have been made clear in the epilogue with detailed entries explaining why she chose to represent each as she has done.

I did enjoy how the author expressed herself, particularly at the beginning of the book. I did enjoy the suspense of the denouement. I think it is admirable that the author wants us to relate to the sisters on a personal level. I believe she wants us to do this so that we too might be encouraged to take a stand against injustice, as they did!


This is good simply because the lines make me smile. What do you think of these: "The country people around the farm say that until the nail is hit, it don't believe in the hammer." Or: the air was so fragrant that it "smelled like a rose garden wished it could smell." I want a writer to delight me with their ability to express themselves in an imaginative manner. I am on page 76; every couple of pages I hit sentences that I love.

And I didn't know much about the dictator Trujillo of the Dominican Republic. I am learning. This is just my kind of historical fiction in other words!
Profile Image for Lorna.
719 reviews418 followers
November 23, 2019
In The Time of Butterflies by Julia Alvarez is a beautiful historical fiction narrative taking place in the Dominican Republic during the dictatorship of Trujillo in the 1960's. This harrowing story tells us how four young women, the Mirabals, were able to inspire a nation to fight for freedom at a great cost to each of them and to all of their family. Three of the four Mirabal sisters were murdered as part of the underground movement against the Trujillo regime while they were visiting their imprisoned husbands. But this was also a story of a beautiful family. This powerful saga tells the story of each of the four Mirabal sisters in their own and unique individual voice: Patria, Dede, Minerva and Maria Teresa. Dede was the surviving sister and her narrative helped to bring this heartbreaking, yet inspiring, tale to a close. "Viva la Mariposa!"

As the author, Julia Alvarez says, "For I wanted to immerse my readers in the life of the Dominican Republic that I believe can only be understood by fiction, only finally be redeemed by imagination."

"Viva la Mariposa!"
Profile Image for سپیده سالاروند.
Author 1 book111 followers
July 11, 2020
مثل تابستون‌های نوجوونی می‌افتم تو تخت و پهلو به پهلو می‌شم و داستان می‌خونم فقط. در این روزهایی که تاریکی اطرافم رو گرفته و اگه حواسم نباشه تا ته فرو رفته‌م تو مرداب انتخاب این کتاب شاید عجیب بود کمی. داستان سه تا خواهر که می‌دونی قراره تهش کشته بشن به طرز بدی ولی تمام اون ۳۸۰ صفحه رو می‌خونی که خوب بشناسی‌شون تا درست از مرگشون متاثر بشی و از زندگی دیکتاتورهایی مشابه تروخیو متنفرتر.
جدا از موضوع که جذابه و خب ما پیش‌تر تروخیو رو توی سور بز شناختیم و خواهرهای میرابال رو ه�� کم و بیش می‌شناسیم، روایت داستان هم جالب و جذاب و تصویریه. خب نه به شاهکاری سور بز ولی همه هم یوسا نیستن بالاخره.
کتابی خواندنی، غمبار، گاهی به‌شدت امیدوار و گاهی به‌شدت بی‌امید...
Profile Image for Snotchocheez.
595 reviews335 followers
December 11, 2016
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 Rafael Leonidas Trujillo in the Dominican Republic) is quite compelling. Ms. Alvarez tries to keep true to their memory with this fictional retelling of their lives, while creating a literary work of art. I thought her writing was gorgeous at times (particulary the epilogue), yet I would've preferred more elucidation and detail over style and poetics. More than a few times I found myself baffled while reading, confused over sequences of events (as the POV--sometimes with first person narration , other times with third person omniscient narration, still other times in epistolary format as Alvarez shifts focus from sister to sister) and trying to understand who's who amid the cavalcade of characters rolled out.

Despite my reservations, I'm glad I read this novel, and glad to have finally acquainted myself with Ms. Alvarez' work.
Profile Image for merixien.
588 reviews325 followers
August 7, 2020
“Yüce Tanrı’m, Sen öyle uygun görmüş olsan da ben oturup bebeklerimin teker teker ölmesine seyirci kalmayacağım.”

Dominik’te 31 yıl süren Trujillo diktasına karşı direnişin en büyük sembolü olan Mirabal kardeşlerin (aka Las Mariposas) çocukluk dönemlerinden hayatlarının son gününe kadar; zenginleşen bir aileden direniş cephesine ilerleyen yollarını, kırılma noktalarını ve yaşadıkları baskıyı-işkenceyi, gerçeklere dayandırarak lakin kurguyla da yumuşatarak anlatıyor. Kendi ailelerinden, çocuklarından önceye bir ülkenin geleceğini koyan, dışarıdan gelip onları kurtaracak bir kahraman beklemektense kendileri kahraman olmayı seçen bu kız kardeşlerin hayatından etkilenmemek mümkün değil. Kolay bir okuma değil ama es geçmemenizi öneririm. Trujillo dönemine dair hiçbir bilginiz yoksa da rahatlıkla okuyabilirsiniz hatta bu kitap oldukça aydınlatıcı olacaktır. Eğer bu kitabı severseniz, devamında da Oscar Wao’nun Tuha Kısa Yaşamı (ki bu kitabı benim aklıma sokan okuma da buydu) ve Teke Şenliği’ni okumanızı tavsiye ederim.
Profile Image for ☮Karen.
1,533 reviews9 followers
June 2, 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 up to injustices of all kinds.  I do recommend, but with some reservations because, until the final chapters, I thought the story extremely slow moving.
Profile Image for Sarah.
733 reviews73 followers
February 12, 2017
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 finds out that they did. It's a somewhat emotional book that I really enjoyed. That said, I would have liked to have seen more interactions between the characters and have more of an understanding of why Alvarez's characters made the choices they did. What would cause four women (from a macho society to boot) to put their lives on the line the way that these women did? I would have liked to see a bit more in that direction.

I did really like it and I especially liked the cultural information that was a part of the story. I also really liked the way that it showed how much these women inspired the rest of the country, to the point that they became such an inspiration that they almost became public property as a celebrity would. This has inspired one of those moments when I need to absorb D.R. history through osmosis because I want to know everything right now! A Wikipedia page is insufficient.
Profile Image for Tara Chevrestt.
Author 27 books295 followers
January 18, 2011
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 faith, but one day she witnesses catastrophe and she enters the revolution. Dede is the "play it safe" sister and doesn't get directly involved but does her part in saving her sisters who are. Minerva is the one with the firey words and passionate speeches. Her constant rebellion fuels the others and she plays a very strong role in the revolution. Maria Teresa, "Mata" also becomes embroiled in the underground plans, not realizing that she may be biting off more than she chew.

Fantastic writing style. I really felt I was getting to know all of the sisters, their thoughts, their feelings, their doubts, and their reasons for going against Trujillo.

As always, in a revolution, disaster is inevitable. There shall be casualities on both sides... Who is this one going to take?

A movie came out in 2010..not based on this book, but about Minerva Mirabel. http://wwwbookbabe.blogspot.com/2011/...
Profile Image for Viv JM.
694 reviews153 followers
March 5, 2017
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.
Profile Image for Zanna.
676 reviews967 followers
April 24, 2016
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 here). Also, La Mariposas come across as awesome and heroic, but generally very feminine in the sense of a familiar traditional gender socialisation; nurturing, caring, with integrity stemming from avowed emotion, conscious of self-presentation, and aspiring to a passionate and stable family life, especially young Mate. I am inevitably projecting my own experiences onto Latin@ culture however.

My favourite voice was Patria's, although I related more to willful Minerva in general. Patria's self-awareness seemed extraordinary, and her religious faith challenged my (generally negative) perceptions of Catholicism and faith generally. If I felt the girls/women were bourgeois and privileged, that's probably why Alvarez devotes a lot of time to conveying the texture of their experiences in prison and the relationships they built there. I appreciated Alvarez's focus on women; the many men in the story remain peripheral. The limited attention to race is my main disappointment in a generally satisfying read. Brief mentions of the Taino and Trujillo's white supremacy are included, and there is a little space for raising awareness in the jail, but we don't see much confrontation with racism in the extensive character development.

For me what makes this so worthwhile and exciting is the depth and detail of characterisation. Sometimes I was really struck by the thoughts behind the thoughts, mostly of Patria, but also others, such as Mate's confession: 'I think I'm going to burst' in a context that causes this to position the soul as desire and desire as a kind of fullness, the opposite of the classic formulation. On the level of the personal, this story gives much food for thought.
1 review
May 6, 2016
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 drawing the reader in, but also keeping their interest.
Set in the Dominican Republic in a time of intense conflict and war, the Miribal sisters must decide if and how to fight the oppression they, and the entire country, are facing. The reader watches as the girls develop into strong women. In the beginning, the Mirabal’s believe that their beloved president, Rafael Trujillo, is as powerful and great as God himself. However, while away at school, one of the sisters is told a horrific story of the oppression Trujillo is responsible for; the girls quickly realize that he is not a great president, but rather a cruel dictator. After the shocking truth is revealed, they must decide if this fight is worth risking their lives for.
Alvarez makes the reader connect to the Mirabal sisters, instead of seeming like political rebels, they seem like humans, with families and lives. Adding a personal connection to the girls makes Trujillo seem even worse because the reader is strongly invested in the sisters and wants to see no harm come to them. As the reader keeps reading, they become more and more emotionally invested in the livelihood of the sisters and makes them hold on to every word.
I would strongly recommend In the Time of the Butterflies to anyone who enjoys reading a book with intense action but also an emotional connect. While the book is fiction, the themes are very real and truly exemplify the harsh oppression many Dominicans had to face.
Profile Image for Erin.
343 reviews10 followers
January 26, 2008
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 points of view of all four sisters, reflecting their very different personalities and motivations, the view of the youngest told through her diary entries. This is the kind of book our book club was founded for--a story of strong, admirable female characters. It is tense and inspiring, and although you know how the story is going to end (the first page of the story consists of the epitaphs of three of the sisters), it still manages to be horrifying and gut-wrenching, especially with the knowledge that it actually happened. A must-read for women and revolutionaries.
Profile Image for Jessica Woodbury.
1,639 reviews2,152 followers
January 16, 2020
Almost everything I read is new, to the extent that I have to make an effort to read older books I never got around to. This book is on the top of a pile of modern classics that have been sitting on my nightstand and judging me for not having read them. I finally started and I'm thrilled this was the first because it was a good reminder that if a book has lasted, if everyone read it, it's usually for a very good reason.

What I enjoyed most about this book is how effectively Alvarez writes each sister. When you switch points of view in a book, it can all end up sounding the same. But for Alvarez, each sister not only has a different personality and a different voice but a different style of prose. Should be required reading for anyone trying to write a multi-pov novel.

Alvarez has a new novel coming this year, and if you are like me and hadn't read any of her books yet, this is a really wonderful one.
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