Friday, April 30, 2010

In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez

Disclaimer: It’s pretty hard to do a review about this book without spoilers because if you read the summary of the book, or the acknowledgements, or the first chapter, or you know anything about Dominican history, you know what the outcome will be. I will not give anything away that is not clear from the book flap or the first chapter.

Wow. What a beautifully sad story.

This was not an easy read by any stretch of the imagination, but it was an awesome read without a doubt. The alternating POV’s are fascinating - I’m coming to realize that I really like that style of writing. For about the first ¼ of the book, I had a hard time keeping the sisters straight (who was who, what order they were in age wise etc) but as you get to know the sisters better you can tell who you are reading without actually having to see their name. Each has a distinct personality that makes them very much their own person.

I think that I enjoyed reading about Maria Teresa (Mate) most. Given that she is the youngest, I think you see the most change and growth in her. The diary entries are a unique way of telling her side of the story.

All the girls were courageous in their own ways and had their own stories to tell. I think I enjoyed this so much because it’s about such strong and yet compassionate women… who also have their flaws and weaknesses. Alvarez made them seem very real.

There were parts of this story that made me angry, parts that made my stomach tighten and feel sick and parts that had lumps forming in my throat. By the end of the book, I felt very connected with each of the sisters and you really feel for Dede and her loss. It’s as if the sisters were physically part of each other and I got the feeling that Dede had been living as only ¼ of herself since the death of The Girls.

I’m not normally a fan of books that span over such a long period of time, but this was definitely an exception. It was really interesting to see each girl grow-up and mature and really added to your connection and sense of emptiness and grief by the end.

I really recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fiction based on fact. The story of the Butterflies is a sad one but one that’s worth the read.

Viva Las Mariposas!

1 comment:

kenpen said...

I read this in college in a poli sci class and thought it was really good. But, yes, awfully sad.