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In the Time of the Butterflies

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4.14  ·  Rating details ·  55,479 ratings  ·  4,131 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 1st 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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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
Angela M
Dec 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“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 beautifu ...more
Petra-masx
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'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
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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
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
Elyse  Walters
Feb 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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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
...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
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 th
...more
Joy D
“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 h ...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
Connie G
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 o
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Lorna
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 im ...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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Mia
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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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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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
...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
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.
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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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
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
Jessica Woodbury
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 s
...more
dianneOnRBG RIPmalaiseBreak
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
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
...more
Xueting
Jul 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 (Again)
Aug 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jeanette (Again) 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
...more
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
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
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
...more
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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 h ...more

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