Jackie's Reviews > Before We Were Free (Lib)

Before We Were Free (Lib) by Julia Alvarez
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's review
Jan 21, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: historical, pura-belpre-award, ya-non-fiction, survival, multicultural, coming-of-age
Read from January 21 to 29, 2012

Set amidst the backdrop of the political upheaval and turmoil in the Dominican Republic in 1960, Before We Were Free is the fictionalized account of one family's struggle for survival, safety, and eventually freedom. Anita de la Torre has never questioned her freedom, that is until she hears Papi and Mommy whispering about butterflies, Mr. Smith, disappearences of loved-ones, and police terrorism. She fears for her Papi and Tio Toni who seem to be part of an uprising and a plot to overthrow the current regime of ruthless dictator Rafael Trujillo.

First Tio Toni disappears and then her beloved Papi goes missing, too. Anita, her mother, and her brother Mundín, must go into hiding for safety. Anita's sister Lucinda has already fled the dangerous country for safety in the United States with relatives after capturing the attention of the notorious womanizer, El Jefe, also known as Rafael Trujillo. Hidden away in a neighbor's closet, Anita is confused about her entry in young adulthood, her father's involvement in the turbulent events, and awakening first-love feelings. To help her cope with her fears and uncertainty, Anita begins writes in a diary to record her worries and the events taking place in her country.

Tragedy does strike the de la Torre clan, but somehow the survivors find a way to escape the eventual onslaught of upcoming imprisonments and danger and begin to lead the life that everyone is entitled to. It is certain that Anita will miss her home, her country of The Dominican Republic and will always long to go back, but for the time being she is safe within the arms of extended family and friends and living in a country which upholds freedom for all.

I would give this book 4.5 stars.

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