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Las Mariposas

Cover of In the Time of the Butterf
A review of In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez

There are so many compelling stories exploring Hispanic heritage in its many forms, but this is one that I've read more than once and learned a lot each time.

Set during the 31-year brutal regime of Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, this book is a fictional account of the Mirabal sisters (Las Mariposas) -- revolutionaries, but also fully fleshed female characters in Alvarez's novel. She does a good job of not romanticizing them, weaving day-to-day familial, romantic, and domestic moments in with their political activism. They aren't just caricatures of feminists; their relationships with men and with each other are complex, and the dialogue between all the characters shows that the heroism the (real) Mariposas are known for is actually a series of difficult choices they had to make over and over again. It's also interesting and important to see the role women -- obviously the sisters, but also other women along the way -- played in the revolution, in big or small ways.

The story is told from different perspectives in the form of diary entries, reminisces, and traditional narrative, so you get a good sense of the women's personalities, and the change in perspective keeps the momentum of the story going. Recommended if you're a fan of history and family sagas. 

We're in the midst of Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15-Oct 15) and there are book and other events going on across Madison Public Library to celebrate. You can check them all out here.

September 27, 2018