Monday, December 29, 2008
Book Look Review "In the Time of the Butterflies"
“In the Time of the Butterflies”
by Debbie Balzotti
There were four courageous Mirabal sisters - Patria, Minerva, Maria Teresa, and Dede. They lived in a family under the rule of the brutal Dominican dictator Trujillo. They were known as Las Mariposas, “The Butterflies,” and three of them were murdered. That is the true part of the story.
The author Julia Alvarez then weaves fact and fiction to create a novel that you cannot put down. Using the memories of the surviving sister, Alvarez draws us into the world of The Dominican Republic in 1950. The citizens are at first enamored with their dictator and most submit to his rule. Similar to other countries under the rule of dictators, Trujillo rules with a malicious and capricious hand. As the corruption of his regime becomes more evident, young students begin to protest. The students are imprisoned and murdered as a lesson to others. But like all people, the desire for freedom is greater than the fear of even death and the revolutionary activities escalate.
In the beginning of the story the young Mirabal sisters live a sheltered life in the countryside where their father has a farm and a successful store. When the girls are allowed to attend a convent boarding school they are exposed to the ideas of young revolutionaries. Soon a couple of the sisters are caught up in their dangerous activities, and even marry these young men. Family members are arrested and imprisoned and eventually some lose their lives for the cause of freedom.
Each chapter changes voice between the sisters, which gives the reader an opportunity to view the historical events through the eyes of different ages and personalities. Occasionally, the surviving sister brings us back to the present and what has happened to the Mirabel family.
November 25th, the day of the women’s’ murders, is observed in many Latin American countries as the “International Day against Violence towards Women”. The sisters who died long ago have become martyrs to rally others in our time. There is hope that their story will stop the violence that victimizes women in all countries still today.