Cover image for In the time of the butterflies
In the time of the butterflies
Alvarez, Julia.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Plume, 1995.

Physical Description:
325 pages : maps ; 21 cm
Reading Level:
910 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 5.8 18.0 21632.

Reading Counts RC High School 7.1 22 Quiz: 05813 Guided reading level: NR.
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FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf

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On a deserted mountain road in the Dominican Republic in 1960, three young women from a pious Catholic family were assassinated after visiting their husbands who had been jailed as suspected rebel leaders. The Mirabal sisters, thus martyred, became mythical figures in their country, where they are known as Las Mariposas (the butterflies). Three decades later, Julia Alvarez, daughter of the Dominican Republic and author of the acclaimed How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, brings the Mirabal sisters back to life in this extraordinary novel. Each of the sisters speaks in her own voice; beginning as young girls in the 1940s, their stories vary from hair ribbons to gun-running to prison torture. Their story is framed by their surviving sister who tells her own tale of suffering and dedication to the memory of Las Mariposas. This inspired portrait of four women is a haunting statement about the human cost of political oppression, and is destined to take its place alongside Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude and Allende's The House of the Spirits as one of the great 20th-century Latin American novels.

Author Notes

Julia Alvarez was born in New York City on March 27, 1950 and was raised in the Dominican Republic. Before becoming a full-time writer, she traveled across the country with poetry-in-the-schools programs and then taught at the high school level and the college level. In 1991, she earned tenure at Middlebury College and published her first book How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accent, which won the PEN Oakland/Jefferson Miles Award for excellence in 1991. Her other works include In the Time of the Butterflies, The Other Side of El Otro Lado, and Once upon a Quinceañera: Coming of Age in the USA.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Alvarez follows her charming first novel, How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents (1991), with a broader, deeper, and even more affecting second one. It's a true story drawn from the history of her native Dominican Republic, about the Mirabel sisters, who, along with their husbands, were instrumental in the formation of an underground resistance movement against the dictatorship of Rafael Leonidas Trujillo. What Alvarez achievesso effortlessly and splendidly, with controlled emotion and resonant detailis a novel with a beautifully balanced sense of domestic as well as political drama. She portrays the sisters as they grow from girls into women and follows their paths from school, boys, marriage, and children to even greaterlife-and-deathconcerns. Her novel is a statement about politics and history told in very human terms and, as importantly, told not with outrage, but with self-possession. Certain to be a hit. (Reviewed July 1994)1565120388Brad Hooper

Publisher's Weekly Review

During the last days of the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic, three young women, members of a conservative, pious Catholic family, who had become committed to the revolutionary overthrow of the regime, were ambushed and assassinated as they drove back from visiting their jailed husbands. Thus martyred, the Mirabal sisters have become mythical figures in their country, where they are known as las mariposas (the butterflies), from their underground code names. Herself a native of the Dominican Republic, Alvarez ( How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents ) has fictionalized their story in a narrative that starts slowly but builds to a gripping intensity. Each of the girls--Patria, Minerva and Maria Terese (Mate) Mirabal--speaks in her own voice, beginning in their girlhood in the 1940s; their surviving sister, Dede, frames the narrative with her own tale of suffering and dedication to their memory. To differentiate their personalities and the ways they came to acquire revolutionary fervor, Alvarez takes the risk of describing their early lives in leisurely detail, somewhat slowing the narrative momentum. In particular, the giddy, childish diary entries of Mate, the youngest, may seem irritatingly mundane at first, but in time Mate's heroism becomes the most moving of all, as the sisters endure the arrests of their husbands, their own imprisonment and the inexorable progress of Trujillo's revenge. Alvarez captures the terrorized atmosphere of a police state, in which people live under the sword of terrible fear and atrocities cannot be acknowledged. As the sisters' energetic fervor turns to anguish, Alvarez conveys their courage and their desperation, and the full import of their tragedy. 40,000 first printing; $40,000 ad/promo; reprint rights to NAL; 20-city author tour. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Alvarez's award-winning first novel (How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, LJ 5/1/91) is more than matched by her second. Butterflies is based on the lives of the four Mirabel sisters (code name: "Mariposas," that is, butterflies), three of whom were martyred in 1960 during the liberation of the Dominican Republic from the dictator Trujillo. Through the surviving sister, Dede, as well as memories of Minerva, Patria, and Maria Teresa, we discover the compelling forces behind each sister's role in the struggle for freedom. As Alvarez says "A novel is not, after all, a historical document, but a way to travel through the human heart." Though murder, torture, and imprisonment are ever-present, she wisely choses to focus on the personal lives of these young wives and mothers, full of love, beauty, and, especially, hope. Highly recommended for its luminescence and relevance.-Rebecca S. Kelm, Northern Kentucky Univ. Lib., Highland Heights(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Dede, 1994 and circa 1943p. 3
Chapter 2 Minerva, 1938, 1941, 1944p. 11
Chapter 3 Maria Teresa, 1945 to 1946p. 30
Chapter 4 Patria, 1946p. 44
Chapter 5 Dede, 1994 and 1948p. 63
Chapter 6 Minerva, 1949p. 84
Chapter 7 Maria Teresa, 1953 to 1958p. 118
Chapter 8 Patria, 1959p. 148
Chapter 9 Dede, 1994 and 1960p. 171
Chapter 10 Patria, January to March 1960p. 200
Chapter 11 Maria Teresa, March to August 1960p. 227
Chapter 12 Minerva, August to November 25, 1960p. 257
Dede, 1994p. 301
A Postscriptp. 323