Read Before We Were Free by Julia Alvarez Online


I wonder what it would be like to be free? Not to need wings because you don’t have to fly away from your country?Anita de la Torre is a twelve-year-old girl living in the Dominican Republic in 1960. Most of her relatives have emigrated to the United States, her Tío Toni has disappeared, Papi has been getting mysterious phone calls about butterflies and someone named Mr. SI wonder what it would be like to be free? Not to need wings because you don’t have to fly away from your country?Anita de la Torre is a twelve-year-old girl living in the Dominican Republic in 1960. Most of her relatives have emigrated to the United States, her Tío Toni has disappeared, Papi has been getting mysterious phone calls about butterflies and someone named Mr. Smith, and the secret police have started terrorizing her family for their suspected opposition to the country’s dictator. While Anita deals with a frightening series of events, she also struggles with her adolescence and her own personal fight to be free....

Title : Before We Were Free
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780440237846
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 192 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Before We Were Free Reviews

  • Myung-Hwan
    2019-03-24 18:00

    I really enjoyed this book. I read it as a part of our class novel and it was very well written. The book referenced important historical figures such as the Butterfly sisters and El Jefe. The protagonist matured physically and socially throughout the book as she realized that the world she lived in wasn't so great. Julia Alvarez wrote in a way that hooked me into the book and made me turn every single page of the book until the About Me of the book flap appeared. One element that got me so hooked was probably the character details. I felt as if I didn't miss a single part of the protagonist's life. I highly recommend this to those who enjoy deeply written characters and story plot lines.

  • Edward K
    2019-04-20 20:12

    These days, I haven’t been reading a lot except one book and it is The Shining but I already wrote about it. The only other book that I am reading besides that book is the school book, Before We Were Free. Even though it is a school book, I find it interesting with a great storyline and a lot of hints and symbols in it. I recommend the book to anyone who wants to learn more about the Dominican Republic and the time where they weren’t free from the dictator El Jefe, and someone who just can’t find a book to read like myself and wants something interesting and that will get your attention. It is about a girl and her family who are trying to be free from the dictator El Jefe and live a better life.The book made me want to read more and more even beyond the chapter we are supposed to finish off at. The story is in present tense form and is in the point of view of the main character which I enjoyed a lot since I can step into her shoes and imagine as if I’m in her place. The book has many symbols which I think people who want to compare this book to life and other things will enjoy. Often, there would be an important object that symbolizes the main character, or Anita’s, life. For example, her diary said a lot about how they have to be private and erase things so that no one can see. Overall, I think this is a great book with many symbols that make you think and compare it to life and it has an interesting plot so for the people, like myself, who don’t find reading enjoyable or fun, it is a book that I would definitely recommend.

  • Natalie
    2019-03-29 18:49

    This book was a solid "blah" for me. It wasn't that it was necessarily bad, it was just boring. Alvarez tried to make this book a heart-racing drama, but it just didn't cut it. Especially since Anita spent most of the book dealing with such average teenage problems, envying her sister, talking about puberty, and obsessing over her various crushes. High Points.Whenever there was actually some suspense...not very often. Trujillo's interest in her sister (unlikely, but actually quite grotesquely suspenseful). The title and cover.Low Points.Most of the book-the excessive dialogue and conversations that bored me to tears. Anything puberty related. Writing in a diary: Dear Anita,Writing depressingly in a diary in captivity is totally taken.Sincerely, Anne Frank Anita herself. I wanted to feel bad for her, but she was such a Mary-Sue, I just ended up wanting to yell at her to grow up already. Most of the other characters were too stereotypical: kind-hearted father, protective mother, obstinate yet comforting older sister, wise grandma, etc. I think you'll like this book if you like Newbery honor books, like, say, Roll of Thunder Hear my Cry. For me, it just didn't pass the sniff test.

  • Veronica
    2019-04-16 17:50

    Wow...This is so amazing. A YA book about living under the Trujillo regime in the Dominican Republic.

  • Charly
    2019-04-09 01:54

    While this piece falls into the young adult genre it is a look at the impact of the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic. It explores the nuances of family and the multi-generational nature of the family in question. Too it speaks to the island culture, and in part contrasts it with the American culture. It was educational as well as entertaining.

  • Crystal Bandel
    2019-04-10 22:10

    Before We Were Free by Julia Alvarez, published 2002.Historical fiction.Novel.Grades 7-10.Found via Horn Book Magazine, reviewed by Lauren Adams.Anita is an upper-class girl in the Dominican Republic, living through the end of the Trujillo dictatorship and trying to make sense of it all. She begins the novel clueless about the dictatorship, as many readers might be, and slowly she pieces together her family's fears and the freedoms that have been taken from everyone. As Anita learns more and keeps a diary—which she erases when she feels her thoughts could be incriminating—her family's presence in the resistance becomes clearer, culminating in her father and uncle participating in the assassination of the dictator. Because the resistance's plans fall through, Anita's father and uncle are arrested, and she, her mother, and her brother have to go into hiding to escape a similar fate. Eventually Anita and her nuclear family move to the United States to live with the rest of her family, while they wait for the final news of her father and uncle. This heart-wrenching story is based on the author's family's experiences, and it feels realistically detailed, reflecting the many concerns of a girl coming of age during such turbulent times. As the reviewer states, "these [accounts] can't compare to her historical predecessor Anne Frank's, well, few can. But Anita's own story is a realistic and compelling account of a girl growing up too quickly while coming to terms with the cost of freedom." Readers should be warned of descriptions of violence and murder to others, as well as descriptions of Anita beginning puberty.

  • William L
    2019-04-06 00:53

    I recommend the book “Before We Were Free” because it keeps the pages turning and at the same time it makes you tense and want to know what’s going to occur in the next page. I did not finish the book yet so I don’t know whether it was satisfying to read it or not but I can guarantee you that this book will make you satisfied. I can relate that I feel scared at times and I want to be brave but I don’t know what to do. The plot is suspenseful and interesting and the theme is very well developed. I personally didn’t learn anything besides the history that occurred in the 1960’s. My thinking did not change after this book and there are some memorable quotes like one that Oscar makes: You can’t be brave if you’re not scared.

  • Karen
    2019-03-26 17:43

    Anita de la Torre lives with her extended family in the Dominican Republic during the increasing cruel Trujillo dictatorship. Most of her family has escaped to the U.S., but she and her immediate family stay to "take care of the store", which Anita finds out means working with the underground resistance.

  • Peter Gilbert
    2019-04-09 20:57

    Before We Were Freeby Julia Alvarez was a great read. This book because it was told from the perspective of a kid, made it easy for me to relate and understand what was happening. The book is realistic fiction, based in the Dominican Republic and New York. Papi, Mami, Tio Toni play the main roles in the story while it is narrated by Anita, the youngest sibling. Anita has two other siblings; Mundin and Lucinda, who also play big roles throughout the book. Throughout the book we see what it was like to live in the Dominican Republic and how important the role of family is. We also see through the story what the title; Before We Were Free really means.At first glance this book might not seem like a hard read but it is because of all the small and subtle things that the authors does that makes the book what it is. For example on page 93 when Anita is kissed by Oscar “ be getting my first kiss!” Previously in the book Anita is in love with another boy from America. You could look at this and just see a girl having a change of emotions or could relate it back to the book. In the book America is stepping back and Sam is from America, and Oscar is stepping up and he's not from America. Even though I mentioned earlier how I liked how Julia Alvarez made Anita the narrator, I wish there would have been more than just her perspective. Because Anita is a child and still learning what is going on, and so are we, it is very helpful to have her perspective. Later on in the book when we know what is going on and we want to be more involved in the story and not on the outside it would have been nice if the author would have just mixed up the perspectives.I would 100 percent recommend this book to a person who can look past it as a easy read and but a easy read with a big message. I would say kids from 6th grade up could read it but they might not fully grasp the magnitude of the book. This book did not feel like a school book to read but a free read book that you could not wait to get back to.

  • Paige
    2019-04-18 20:06

    This book tells an intriguing story of a young girl growing up in the Dominican Republic during the 1960's. I enjoyed this book, in fact, I couldn't put it down. Her story is so detailed and intricate you feel as if you are there with her experiencing the confusion and hostility. Being an adolescant, she is out of the loop on most of what is happening around her, no one informs her of anything and she is told not to ask questions. Seeing as the book is told from her point of view, the audience experiences the same craving for information and explanations. Julia Alvarez writes a suspenseful book that truly puts you in the Dominican Republic and a part of her family. I would highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to read a memoir or a historical novel. It is attention getting and sheds light on the history of their country in a devasting time in history.

  • CJ Baroni
    2019-04-10 20:50

    Before we were Free was written by Julia Alvarez. Julia Alvarez was born on March 27, 1950 in New York City to a Dominican family. Alvarez is an impressive Dominican-American poet, novelist, and essayist. Alvarez has also written famous novels like In the Time of the Butterflies and How the García Girls Lost Their Accent. In this historical fiction, it is about life in the Dominican Republic from the eyes of a young girl, Anita de la Torre. Anita and her family are under the rule of a dictator, Rafael Trujillo or also known as Mr. Smith. Anita’s father and her uncle, Tio Toni, are part of a special group of men trying to assassinate Trujillo. Anita is trying to act normal and typical but she understands that something serious is going to take place. Anita has become agitated and erases her diary everyday so no one can figure out what she has been thinking or reflecting about. Family members start to leave the country, secrets start to unravel and intimidating men start to invade the compound. Throughout all of this change, Anita has started to become an independent woman.One strength I enjoy about Alvarez’s writing is to make me feel like I am in the story and how I can see and feel what Anita is going through. The author’s writing style shows that Anita is growing up to become a strong woman or senorita. “The last thing I want is a man knowing I’ve gotten my period.” (Alvarez p.73) This quote shows how Anita is growing up to be a senorita. Anita has grown up from being a young girl to a responsible woman. She has grown physically, mentally, and emotionally. Here is another reason why Anita is at her ‘coming of age’, “But I don’t cry. Not right away. I listen carefully until the very end. I want to be with Papi and Tio Toni every step of the way.” (Alvarez p.151) Anita handled this situation when she was a twelve year-old girl. She showed how she is now a senorita and a mature young lady. Anita is at her ‘coming of age’, and the book's theme is: ‘coming of age’. Through all of this change, Anita matures, discovers, and understands what it is to be truly free.In all honesty, I am pleased with this novel. Alvarez wrote some excellent values and lessons to be learned and I will never forget them. The valuable lessons has affected me to see how fortunate I am. I did not have a clue who Rafael Trujillo was, and what life was like under his rule. After reading this book, I see how difficult life was in the Dominican Republic. I recommend this book to everyone out there. If you enjoy vivid and dramatic books, this is the right book. I am impressed how Alvarez wrote this incredible novel and I hope you like it as much as I did. I look forward to read more books from Alvarez.

  • Katrina
    2019-03-25 23:56

    In Julia Alvarez’s first young adult novel, Before we were Free, we meet 12-year-old Anita de la Torre. Like many young children, she is curious and talkative. Having lived a comfortingly protected life thus far, Anita is sweetly innocent and naïve. Her life seems rather normal. She annoys her older sister and has a crush on her new American neighbor Sam. However all of this will change quickly. The story takes place in the Dominican Republic during the months leading up to the assassination of the infamous dictator Trujillo. As the events of the story unfold, Anita’s life is forever changed. Anita comes to realize that “El Jefe” is in fact, not the hero she believed him to be, but a dictator who threatens her family and friends, disappearing and torturing many Dominicans. She is forced to grapple with what is right and wrong, as family members flee the country, while others are forced into hiding. Her life is literally invaded by El Jefe’s Secret Police, the SIM. Anita’s diary, a place where she once could pour out her heart, becomes a danger. She is forced to erase all she has written so that it will not give anything away if found by the SIM. It is here that we encounter one of the most powerful parts of the novel. As Anita tries to deal with the fact that her world is crumbling around her, she loses her words. She falls into a silence she can’t seem to break. She finds she can’t remember words anymore, she can’t speak. The curious young girl nicknamed cotorrita (literally a chatterbox or parrot) is silenced by what happens around her. When forced into hiding with her mother, Anita goes back to her diary, writing again so that if they don’t survive, their story is left behind. As Anita begins to write again, sharing their story, her voice comes back. Anita survives, eventually making her way to the United States to join other family members in New York City. The overthrow of the Trujillo regime cost her dearly. She’s no longer the innocent child we met at the beginning of the story, but instead a survivor--an example of how we must fight to find our voices again, how we can persevere to put the pieces of our life back together again. While Anita’s life is much different than the average child in the United States, students will have no trouble identifying with the engaging character that Alvarez offers us. Her beautiful imagery, literary style, and historical content make it a book well worth reading in our classrooms. Check out our free Educator’s Guide for the book at http://teachinglatinamericathroughlit...

  • Diana
    2019-04-16 23:48

    This book taught me that at the end of the day all you have is family and you will do anything to protect them. It also reminded me what freedom really is and how sometimes we take the small things for granted.

  • Marten
    2019-04-19 20:00

    Wow, my first Alvarez novel and it moved me. A beautiful story about a history of which I knew relatively little. I will seriously consider this for my course for the seventh grade.

  • Dusty
    2019-03-26 18:42

    In 1960, at the age of 10, author Julia Alvarez fled the Dominican Republican in the company of her parents, who had collaborated in a plot to overthrow the longstanding dictator, Rafael Trujillo. While Before We Were Free is not a strictly autobiographical account of these events, it is clearly influenced by them. Like Alvarez, the novel's narrator is a young girl coming of age during the final years of the dictatorship. Over the course of the novel, she realizes that the man whose portrait hangs on the walls at school and at home is not a beneficent national father and that her own father is conspiring to have him killed.Alvarez is an author I have been meaning to read for years, and I picked up this particular novel with the idea that I might add it to my syllabus for a class on young adult literature. Certainly, the book excels at revealing the injustices of the Trujillo regime through the eyes of an pre-adolescent narrator. Though I was familiar with the general history of the period, I learned a great deal about how it felt to live in an oppressive regime that is being shunned by the rest of the world. I was especially interested in the scenes set in the US American school, which the narrator attends alongside the children of diplomats from other countries. Though the teacher pities her Dominican students for their country's political situation, she demeans them in other ways--by drawing condescending contrasts between the honorable United States and corrupt Dominican Republic, by assigning the darker skinned Dominican students the roles of Native Americans in the class's Thanksgiving play, and so forth. Perhaps one of the benefits of the embargo is that this school was forced to close.Ultimately, I think the book works better as a history lesson than a novel, and honestly I am a little surprised by the accolades it has received. As a reader, I found the narrator's voice rather "evolved" for a twelve-year-old, with reflections and an expressive style that seem unrealistic for her age. Worse, so many of the scenes between the characters themselves feel abridged, as if the author had been required by contract to keep the book at less than 200 pages. This is particularly evident in the scenes involving Tony, the narrator's rebellious uncle. At the book's beginning, the author suggests that Tony has been "disappeared" by the dictator he had been discrediting. Then, when he finally returns home, his backstory and family reunion are summarized in a couple of efficient paragraphs without even a word of dialogue. As a didactic novel for use in the middle school classroom, the book accomplishes its purposes in spades. As a novel to recommend to adults not reading it for a class? Meh.

  • Jun Lee
    2019-04-03 17:53

    Before We Were Free is a historical fiction written by Julia Alvarez. This book makes readers think more critically with implied messages and historical background. Before We Were Free is narrated by an 11 years old girl, Anita whose perspective gradually changes as she becomes more mature and undergoes tragic situations that most children do not often experience. This book is based on the Dominican Republic’s history - how Rafael Trujillo ruled the country with his autocratic ruthless power for over 31 years. The book is based on the author’s own experiences in the Dominican Republic. Although Julia Alvarez was born in New York City, her parents decided to live in the country under Trujillo’s dictatorship temporarily. Fortunately, Julia Alvarez escaped from the Dominican Republic and she now resides in Vermont.Before We Were Free draws attention to readers by suggestive hints, making them sympathetic, and giving moral lessons that readers take away from the story. The book consists of many implied messages that made me curious on what will happen next. When Anita faces adversities that Papi and Uncle Toni fight against Trujillo’s power, Anita says “Chucha’s dream: first Lucinda, then Mundín, and then Mami and me flying in the sky. I had pictured us to taking off to the United States of America” (pg. 98). The quote shows Anita’s family members and the order in which they might move to the United States. All except Anita’s dad. Since Papi’s was not in Chucha’s dream, I wondered what would happen to him. The greatest strength of Before We Were Free is that it truly conveys its message to the readers. This is because the book is clearly depicted as an 11 years old girl’s perspective. I was able put myself into Anita’s shoes and understand her emotions because I felt like I was Anita while I was reading. The potency to make readers sympathize with the content of the book is the greatest strength in my opinion. The last point that I value in Before We Were Free is that it imparts important life lessons. Throughout the book, I understood Alvarez’s intention to write this book, which was to reveal the lives of the people in the Dominican Republic. When Papi decided to sacrifice himself for his family and the nation, I had a strong sense that being a father means a lot more than what I can grasp or understand as of now. Since I was thinking of Anita recognizing reality as she becomes old in the book, Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers came in my mind to compare between the two books. Yellow Birds is centered on Iraq War and Bartle, who attend the war. Bartle first believes that sacrificing for the nation is an honored duty as an American citizen. However, after he faces numerous innocent citizens lying on the ground, he begins to notice that this situation is not the one he imagined. After Bartle returns to the United States, he and other soldiers are blamed by decimating many people rather than getting applause. Throughout Yellow Birds, Bartle figures out what the reality is. This is similar to Before We Were Free because Anita portraits Rafael Trujillo as George Washington with respect in the beginning. However, as time goes on, she soon knows that Trujillo was a brutal dictator. Both Yellow Bird and Before We Were Free describe the steps of the main characters realizing reality.Before We Were Free is the book that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. Finding clues and imagining what would happen next caused me to be utterly fascinated. I definitely recommend this book because readers learn the history of the Dominican Republic. Additionally, by learning the history of the country, it reminds me what Papi emphasizes, which is that education is important because it definitely shows that having an uneducated leader causes chaos. This book would be a great resource to have an interdisciplinary course in English and History.

  • Slater Whitehead
    2019-03-24 00:53

    The book Before we were Free by Julia Alvarez, was a fantastic book. It shows a great point of view of a young girl living in the Dominican Republic while there is a dictatorship run by Rafael Trujillo. It shows how much fear was in the country at this time and how bad rafael Trujillo was. It shows how the young girl Anita viewed all of this as it was happening. Being able to see this through the eyes of young Anita makes you think more about how families had to deal with the dictatorship at this time. It also showed that it wasn't just adults or workers who are suffering it was also the kids who were suffering. How through this whole process I need to was maturing as a young woman and how she went through all of this to become "free". I put that in quotation because at the end of the book there is some debate on whether she actually is free at the end. Overall I thought this book should a great point of view through Anita eyes and made me think empathetically about those who stayed or those who had to live through that.I believe that one of the more important things in this book is the way that Anita matured. She really had to go through a lot and figure out things on her own when people wouldn't talk to her. One indication that shows she was maturing was in chapter 6 when she had her period. "'Congratulations' she says, leaning over and kissing me. 'My baby sister's a Señorita.'" this could be perceived as something gross, or odd, and even irrelevant to the book, but this has meaning to the story. The first thing that this is implying is that she is maturing as a woman. Señorita means woman so when her sister says that she knows that she's growing up. The other thing that this means is that there was a change in the book, or a new change was coming. There are many other things that have meaning in this book but this one stood out to me because although it shows Anita maturing, it also implies that the book is, in a way, also maturing. It shows that the reader is about to move on to a whole different part of the book.This was a great read throughout the whole book. It showed a great point of view from Anita's perspective and how she viewed things. It also showed how Anita matured throughout the book and how she understood more throughout the book. Also how the reader matured by reading the book throughout it. The reader matured throughout the book because of the way the author chose to write it. It was wrote to show change in the book. The book also was very empathetic towards people who lives in the Dominican Republic. The families of children and adults had to deal with a dictatorship. This makes the reader think very empathetic towards the book. I would recommend this book to anybody who reads it, it is a great book and shows lots of empathy.

  • Thomas Stull
    2019-04-10 01:54

    The novel, Before We Were Free, by Julia Alvarez is one of thrill, excitement, and sadness to help the reader see through the eyes of a twelve year-old girl. Ms. Alvarez currently resides in Middlebury, Vermont, but was born and raised in the Dominican Republic. However, when she was ten years old, she spent her years in New York, New York. Ms. Alvarez currently resides in a peaceful and tranquil area, whereas in her childhood years, it was not like the calm town she lives in today. No, but she uses the most simplistic characters and make them into the most well-rounded people through events that, frankly, no one but her could come up with. She most likely gets her inspirations from her time in the Dominican Republic where she was living under the rule of the cruel dictator known as Rafael Trujillo. This is also where this great story begins. However, it wasn't the summary that got me hooked, it was the acknowledgement page that did. It simply states, "for those who stayed". I immediately wonder why Alvarez would put this in. Who stayed? Why did they stay? Did they have to?At this point I was hooked because obviously, one of the author’s purposes is to answer these questions. Her other purpose is to influence you to get you to think as if you were a twelve year-old girl living in the middle of a dictatorship. She wants you to feel empathetic for this girl so that she can keep the plot hidden from us as it was for the main character. This is just one way the author brings you into her story. She wants you to feel what she has wrote and she has succeeded.This twelve-chapter story takes the reader to the Dominican Republic and places you in the shoes of a twelve year-old girl named Anita de la Torre. Each character created by Julia Alvarez is able to capture your attention through Anita's perspective whether it is her father, Papi, a mysterious person who either disappoint you as he disappointed Anita, or is it Anita’s family maid (Chucha) who is a very superstitious woman and doesn't make too many appearances in the reading, but makes a huge impact in Anita's life during and after the Dominican Republic. In the first chapter, she draws you in by showing how everyone begins to be nervous. This is blatantly shown when it reads, "But lately, Papi looks pretty worried himself. When I ask questions, he replies with 'Children should be seen, not heard' instead of his usual 'Curiosity is a sign of intelligence.'" (Before We Were Free pg. 2). This quote shows that Anita talks a lot in the beginning of the story- questions everything and wondering about every action of the people around her. Alvarez also conveys in this quote that everyone is starting to get nervous when Anita's best friend, Carla Garcia, was told to leave class with her parents at the classroom door in the middle of the day. This is where the tension begins. Julia Alvarez continues the tension in the story when she mentions that Anita's uncle, Tio Toni, has disappeared. Then, about two months later the SIM, Rafael Trujillo's secret henchmen, enter the house compound where the de la Torre family lives. They tear apart their house looking for any reason they would be plotting against "their" president. Later, because someone in or related to the de la Torre family did something for the United States, the American consul, Mr. Washburn and his family move into the compound to protect the de la Torre family. Finally, as Papi is holding a gun at his waist, he kisses Anita's forehead and walks out the door to a running car. Will what comes next solve all their problems or does it create more? Julia Alvarez succeeds in her goal of creating an emotional ride for the reader. She makes her points of Anita's curiosity and her journey to be free throughout the story and makes the reader question if the characters made the right decisions for the wrong reasons or made the wrong decisions for the right reasons. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants some thrill from the 60's with inner and external conflicts with all of the characters.

  • OliverTian
    2019-04-19 23:52

    I found myself really into this historical fiction by Julia Alvarez, Before We Were Free, and felt empathetic to the characters. Sometimes I even needed to remind myself that this is a fictional book when reading. The story about how Anita, the main character lived under great politic pressure with her family and grew up to be a mature young lady both physically and mentally through a series of event is fascinating. Besides that, as a reader, I see the simplified version of how innocent people suffered from tyranny, rallied up, and rebelled from a kid’s point of view which is unusual. Living in a wealthy family, Anita may not be a typical Dominican Republic kid, however, she was the epitome of the people at that time, representing their hope of being free. Also, some interesting characters such as the old Haitian maid, Chucha, who was weird but at the same time, pretty wise, make the story even more entertaining but thought-provoking. She was the figure of a sophisticated guardian protecting and supporting Anita, somehow similar to the deputy sheriff, Len in Montana 1948 which I read earlier. Julia Alvarez as someone who actually experienced the dictatorship of Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, apparently she is the right person to tell the story. Some seeming details hiding in the plot are actually suggesting significant meanings, and this can not possibly be done if the author has not personally undergone that period of dark time. For example, “El Jefe always wears his white uniform, except on Wednesdays, when he heads for his country home at night. Then he wears a green khaki outfit. But today is only Tuesday.” (Before We Were Free, p91) However, this means so much more than just the dictator’s daily routine and his preference of clothes. There are tons of details like the one above waiting for the readers to discover and interpret, to fully understand the story while enjoying reading at the same time. Sometimes in the story, trick words that a lot of different meanings are also used, such as “Lying Policeman”. (Before We Were Free, p77) It feels delightful when I eventually understood the meanings of the word “lying” after actually reading. Although some of the details are hard for readers to perceive and get the ideas behind them, I can feel the author has truly dedicated great effort to set up the plot while informing readers about anything that helps the interpretation. However, more effort should be spent to explain vague and indicated messages more clearly, which certainly would help readers to find reading this story more enjoyable and relate themselves to the characters in the book. Afterall, I believe it is a book worth the time to read carefully, and you will obtain a lot from this story.

  • Ryan Huntley
    2019-03-29 00:43

    This novel by Julia Alverez wasn't the hardest thing too read but carried a lot of meaning. As mentioned many times in class this book had lots of layers. This story intrigued me from the start. America slides this time period in the D.R. under the rug in many causes, and it was interesting to learn about the darker side of our past. With little background research, we learned that America put El Jefe in power and was now intervening in the D.R. government again. This intrigued me because it showed America overstepping its boundaries. Anita is the main character in this book. Viewing this story through her eyes helps the reader learn about the story at an appropriate speed. Anita is shown growing as a person and is even given some responsibility for knowledge near the end of the book. This helps the reader relate because we have been learning with her the entire time.The feeling of being trapped makes Anita become stronger and more resilient. "Were not free were trapped."(Pg.48) This quote proves how Anita opens up too the reader and helps us understand her pain.I liked this book because it gave a different perspective. I think anyone could relate to this book in the fact that we all grow and our opinions change on the same subject. Something very special out of this book was the point of view of a young Dominican girl. This helped shape the mood for how the D.R. was feeling during this time. By telling the story from Anitas point of view I feel as if we a are spared details at many times. I think this gives the ready opportunity to fill in the blanks. I really enjoyed this book and I think this book is a great fit for most young adults.

  • Malcolm Bussey
    2019-04-12 23:50

    Reading Before We Were Free by Julia Alvarez was the first time I have learned about the Dominican Republic and it opened up my eyes. I haven't learned much about Central America growing up in school, maybe just a few times on the news, so I didn't know what to expect when I started reading this book. In my life growing up in Canada, we mostly just worried about our country first of all but got to know quite a bit of what was going on in the US and Great Britain. Giving myself a new perspective by reading about a new country made me think about the problems all around the word that have kids that are my age right in the middle of them.It was nerve-racking going through the book and putting myself in Anita’s shoes, knowing that her family is being watched every day. It was unfair to Anita that she didn't know what was going on. I can’t imagine what emotions and questions were going through her head when she found out her dad was killed, once she was free in New York. At the end of the book Anita says, “The emptiness inside starts filling with a strong love and a brave pride.” (Before We Were Free pg.163). This quote is from after her dad dies and shows that she found a way to cope and move on. She calls it a “brave pride” because in order to be proud her father had to have the guts to stand up for their country and he did so that his friends and family could have a better life, but in that process he sacrificed his life for them.Early in the story, Anita was almost caged in the compound, questioning why some of her family was leaving and what was going on. She was young but getting to the age where she started going through puberty. Her parents still didn't tell her what was going on and still treated her like she was younger than she really was. I remember when I was a kid and my parents wouldn't tell me what was going on in situations and sometimes I would just find out by myself and Anita is doing the same. Overall I enjoyed the book because it was a good learning experience for me and I even made some connections with Anita from previous times in my life. This novel is all about how Anita went through adversity and powered through it and moved on with her new life. I would recommend it to Canadian kids that don't know much about Central American countries because it's good to get different perspectives from other people in other countries especially places that don't have freedom, because that is something we all take for granted.

  • Kade Goldberg
    2019-04-21 17:46

    In the novel Before We Were Free, this Drama/Thriller brought you through the peaks and valleys of Anita De La Torre’s life. The author Julia Alvarez is a writer we have read from before as she talks about her experience immigrating to the U.S. She also, lived in the Dominican where she lived as a young girl and quickly she learned that the United States was not everything she dreamed of. Anita started out a young girl admiring the dictator of her country the Dominican Republic, but by the end learned and understood that she was a part and in a way responsible for the assassination of El Jefe. Julia Alvarez clearly conveys her point of a family in distress trying to make things better. It was hard for me to empathize with this book because of the fact that I have never been in the situation to leave my home country to go somewhere else that in my perspective is “freedom”. We saw many themes in this book starting from Anita’s maturity, to maybe a possible surrogate parent in Chucha with her advise, and the hopes and dreams of Anita one day being free because of the sacrifice that her father made possible for her. In the book a quote I found interesting was, (page 155) the author wrote, “To mourn and to celebrate those who gave their lives for all of us.” I think Julia was trying to show us that even though Anita initially did not have the feeling of being free, she was still grateful for everything that her father did and asked herself the question, what is Freedom?A connection that I can make in today’s world is the illegal immigrants coming into our country for better opportunity. While they might not be looking to run away from a vicious dictator, they are still coming here to be “free”. What does this mean. Freedom, is it some illusion that that citizens of the U.S. are told, but very well may not be true. Anita made me think about this when she talks about how she does not know if by immigrating to the U.S. if she is free. I think she understands that her dad sacrificed his life for her to be in the United States without having to worry about a dictator, but she always explains how she is more under the microscope because of what she looks like. She is also an illegal immigrant so then I ask myself the question, was the assassination worth it? Julia Alvarez made this book worth it from my point of view. It made me grow as a person and also made me ask myself questions, which is what I look for in a book. The author does have a point in writing this book because of personal experience, but also telling her countries story.

  • Phil Jensen
    2019-04-04 17:51

    This book was a bit scattered. Who would like it?Dominicans Any Dominican family is likely to have experiences of the Trujillo regime, and would be interested in this narrative of its downfall.Survivors of DictatorshipsIn her afterward, Alvarez explains that the narrative is designed to represent the general experience of Latin American dictatorship. I'm not so sure about that. The story seems specific to the Dominican Republic in ways that similar stories by Graham Greene and Margarita Engle do not.Girls The first quarter of the book, its weakest section, read like a recitation of girl book tropes- the glamorous older sister, the first crush, wondering about menstruation. Once the book moves into full swing, it is bound by the restriction of women's roles in the Dominican Republic. While the men are off plotting a coup, the women stay home and play canasta. I kept wishing that I could follow the male characters instead of the more passive female characters.Middle schoolers The descriptions of torture and the implications of rape place this book outside the 6th grade comfort zone, even though the text level would place it there.I did not get a lot out of this book. Perhaps I would have appreciated it more if I had a different background. My favorite parts were the diary/closet section, Chucha, and the snowstorm at the end.

  • Jenny - Book Sojourner
    2019-04-09 22:44

    I chose this for my high school world literature co-op and it ended up being a great read for not just the teens, but for me as well. The writing style is young but the historical themes were more appropriate for high school students. We had a great discussion about the Trujillo dictatorship, the Dominican Republic, the Mirabal sisters, as well as the story itself, and it made us dig deeper into our historical and geographical research.

  • Christian Moore
    2019-04-24 00:06

    The book Before we were free written by Julia Alvarez is a magnificent novel. The main character is a girl named Anita. Anita de la Torre never really thought about her freedom while living in the Dominican Republic. But by her 12th birthday in 1960 everything seemed to change pretty fast. Most of her relatives moved to the United States, her Tío Toni has disappeared without a trace. Also government’s secret police(SIM) terrorized the only family she had left. That is because of the disliking of president El Jefe that she never knew about "Now I'm really confused. I thought we liked El Jefe. His picture hangs in our front entryway with the saying below it: IN THIS HOUSE, TRUJILLO RULES" (Chapter 2 300). Using courage of her family, Anita overcame her fears and flew to freedom, leaving all that she once knew behind. Therefore came a little adversity because people she truly loved passed away. From renowned author Julia Alvarez comes a unforgettable story about adolescence and a girl’s struggle to be herself and be free.

  • Tad
    2019-04-02 01:05

    Before We Were Free is a historical fiction novel, by Julia Alvarez, about what life was like For a girl named Anita in the Dominican Republic under the rule of "El Jefe" or general Trujillo. Before I started reading I did what nobody should do I "judged a book by its cover." Not literally, but when I saw that it was historical fiction, I thought it was going to be pretty boring to read, but I thought wrong. Just in the first chapter, the story started to speed up and grab my attention. After she left school that day, it all began to change for Anita. She began to grow and develop throughout the story, her mind and her body changed. at the beginning, we are introduced to the SIM, which was like Trujillo's secret service. They came to the compound looking for someone. throughout the story, the SIM play a significant role in how Anita'smind developed and matured as she learned more about what was going on in the Dominican Republic. While their house is being watched 24/7 by the SIM, Anita notices that Papi is obsessed with butterflies. Anita is overwhelmed and her only escape from what is going on around her is to write in her journal. “It’s like my whole world is coming undone, but when I write, my pencil is a needle and thread, and I'm stitching the scraps back together” (Alvarez P. 48). One of the most important parts of the story to me is the presence of Chucha. Chucha is that wise old person in the story. She predicts events that are going to happen, but she does it in a vague way; sort of like an oracle. Chucha plays an important role as she foreshadows events to come in a fluid way that seems part of the story. The last two chapters were the biggest hit to me. It may have been predictable from reading the book but it was still big as the presentation was shocking. overall I would say this book was very good and it hooked me in right from the first chapter. I would recommend this book to someone in middle school or high school.

  • Ken
    2019-04-23 20:58

    This slim, semi-autobiographical work by Alvarez ("In the Time of the Butterflies") doesn't advertise itself as a 12 & up book. I'm glad it didn't, or I might not have picked it up. The story, set in the early-'60s, tells the story of a 12-year-old Dominican girl whose family is involved in the resistance against the brutal Trujillo regime. It's a wonderful book (parts are written in the form of a diary), maintaining an Anne Frank-type balance between the narrator's political awakening and the more personal concerns of any girl passing through puberty. Highly recommend, no matter what one's age.

  • Ellis DeMars
    2019-03-25 00:06

    Before We Were Free , a realistic fiction story by Julia Alvarez was a good but not great book. Alvarez, now 67 years old and living in New York City, also wroteIn the Time of the ButterfliesandHow Tía Lola Came to Visit Stay . The plot revolves around a young girl named Anita De La Torres who lives in the Dominican Republic in the early 1960s. The dictator Rafael Trujillo who was referred to as El Jefe, was the main antagonist in the story even though he had little to no dialogue throughout the book. I think the strengths of the book was that the story was told from the perspective of a twelve-year-old girl instead of the normal adult. The weakness was that I thought the story was very two-dimensional and there was not much depth in the book. I enjoyed this book but not as much as other books that I have recently read.

  • Matthew Hynes
    2019-04-03 02:00

    Before we were free is a fictional and historical novel all in one with a little bit of a thriller feeling to it. Julia Alvarez tells this book in a thirteen year old girl hint of view, named Anita. Thought the book El Jefe the dictator in the Dominican Republic played a very large roll in the plot. Also the three butterfly sister are mentioned in correlation a similar accident in the book. This novel is extremely accurate with the history and timeline of the events that happen throughout the book. Alvarez makes you feel like you are right there with Anita and her family and friends living at the compound. A good example of that is when she is telling us about the meetings that Papi and his friends have about getting rid of "Mr.Smith", and Anita can hear every singe word they are saying right out her window. Anita grows as a person thought the novel and shows a great deal of maturity at hard times, like when Mr.Washburn came and told them the horrific new about Papi and Tio Tony. Thought the book Anita's family loosens and isn't as close as they used to be and their maid Chucha takes Anita under her wing and cares for her in many ways. In the book Montana 1948 David is in the same situation when his dad is investigating uncle Frank, Len his fathers deputy cares for him here and there and gives him very powerful life advice and tips throughout the book. Julia Alvarez has brighten a very short compact powerful book that is very deep with thought and connections. I feel she has wright about this because she is a Dominican-American wright that wright about her countries history and the era the grew up in. She tells real life story that happened with in her own story that she has come up with that is rich with knowledge and information.

  • Corey Sarazin
    2019-03-28 19:58

    Before We Were Free is a realistic fiction book about a maturing girl in the Dominican Republic while under the cruel lead of Rafael Trujillo, or El Jefe. Julia Alvarez, the author, writes the book from the perspective of a naïve girl named Anita; this point of view is creative due to the parts of the book where the reader is left questioning what is true or why something is happening. Alvarez ties this book to her childhood growing up in the Dominican Republic during this tough time. The idea of the family being tied into the plot against El Jefe was based on her family’s involvement and what would happen if they had stayed in the Dominican. Alvarez cleverly intertwines the life of the children with the actions of the parents and Trujillo. The writing in the book provokes a lot of thought; however, I believe the highlighting feature of the book is how Alvarez adds tension throughout the book due to the threat of the SIM, the Dominican secret police. During the course of the book, I was drawn in by the idea that the SIM was constantly watching every move that Anita’s family made. It started off right in the preliminary pages of the book when the SIM searched the family’s compound and supposedly planted listening devices. Alvarez writes when Anita finally is made aware of this as follows, “Lucinda puts her hairbrush down on her vanity and makes a sign for me to follow her to the patio out back.‘We should be okay out here,’ she whispers, looking over her shoulder.‘Why are we whispering?’ In fact, everyone has been talking in whispers and low voices this last week…Lucinda explains. The SIM have probably hidden microphones in the house and are monitoring our conversations from their VWs.” (Alvarez 19)The family had to watch what they did and said, which drew me in because Alvarez gave only enough to convey a general idea but left the rest to the reader. I was often left questioning parts of the book due to the fact that Anita never truly knew fully what was going on. I was often intrigued by the increasing tension in every chapter. An example of this later in the book is when there is a maid, Lorena, who is suspected to be a spy for the SIM. Alvarez goes back and forth with this idea, and it is greatly shown when Anita is describing what she knows of the situation by saying, “We have to be careful of being overheard by someone on the SIM secret payroll. Lorena was recently caught ‘cleaning’ the desk drawers in Papi’s study.” (Alvarez 58) Whether or not she is actually a spy is up for the reader to decide, but I loved this part due to the thought it provoked. Again, this added to the tension around this situation. It is this and the many other examples that constantly kept me wanting to read more and discuss with others to see what they think.While I enjoyed the book, I felt that Alvarez dragged out some parts of the story at times and it seemed a little tedious to read. However, the vocabulary is not too complex and these parts were easy to read through. This story is one that is very interesting, and I saw a strong connection to The Diary of Anne Frank in some parts throughout the book. Most notably, the correlation was the strongest just before the climax of the book. Alvarez kept me thinking throughout most of the book and wrote an excellent story on an emotionally tough yet intriguing topic. In my opinion, Before We Were Free is a pleasure to read, and I would recommend it to someone who is looking for a quick, yet thought provoking book.