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Before We Were Free by Julia Alvarez

Before We Were Free

by Julia Alvarez

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This little volume explores how Anita (12 going on womanhood) feels as her family struggles to survive the revolution to overthrow the Trujillo regime in the Dominican Republic. Her view is simplistic and focused on the realities of her familial experience - colored with the emotion of first love and the adoration of a child for her father. I've read Alvarez before, and so far I like this book best.

It's not quite as powerful as [The Diary of a Young Girl] by Anne Frank, but it's a very good book re the Dominican experience under Trujillo. Recommended for young adults. ( )
  BookConcierge | Feb 11, 2016 |
*SPOILERS* Anita de la Torre lives in the Dominican Republic which is ruled by "El Jefe," the country's despotic ruler. Anita doesn't think much about her limited freedoms until her relatives begin fleeing to the U.S., her Tio Toni disappears, her father is involved with secret calls and meetings, and the secret police raid their home. Anita and her mother are forced into hiding for several months at a friend's home before they too flee. In the end, Anita's father and uncle are killed in retaliation by the secret police. Story inspired by experiences of the author and her family.
  Salsabrarian | Feb 2, 2016 |
This is the story of a young girl growing up in the Dominican Republic during the Trujillo regime. Her entire family is heavily involved with the opposition movement, and many of them have fled to the United States. I love the voice of the main character. She is struggling with the normal issues of a young teenager, while also living under an oppressive regime where much of her family is in very real danger. A good read for adults, both young and old. ( )
  klburnside | Aug 11, 2015 |
I recommend this book because, it has a unique plotline, and is full of interesting characters and settings. The book kept me turning pages, because it was addicting and the events were fascinating throughout the story. This book is full of suspense, making me turn the pages to see what happened next. I relate to the character Anita, because just like her I am sort of caring for my family and my friends. Just like her, I am also at times childish, and am very clueless of my surroundings. The plot was suspenseful, and had new unexpected events constantly, which kept me on my toes too see the outcomes. The theme was well developed, because it is not super cliched, like other stories. I personally responded to this book with a sort of sad feeling. This book is full of sad events, that make you think about how you would feel. Especially because the main character Anita, was around my age. I learned from this book, that you should always be brave, and stand up for your anything that you don’t believe is right. This changed the way that I thought about history, and how cruel dictatorship was. All that power in one person's hands, is too much to account for. ( )
  Sluper1 | Apr 12, 2015 |
BBYA 2002; RGG: Important story of a family's experience opposing the Trujillo dictatorship in 1960's Dominican Republic. Told from the point of view of a twelve-year-old girl, who ends up in hiding. Prose seems a bit stilted.
  rgruberexcel | Mar 26, 2015 |
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for those who stayed
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"May I have some volunteers?" Mrs. Brown is saying.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 044023784X, Mass Market Paperback)

What would life be like for a teen living under a dictatorship? Afraid to go to school or to talk freely? Knowing that, at the least suspicion, the secret police could invade your house, even search and destroy your private treasures? Or worse, that your father or uncles or brothers could be suddenly taken away to be jailed or tortured or killed? Such experiences have been all too common in the many Latin American dictatorships of the last 50 years. Author Julia Alvarez (How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents) and her family escaped from the Trujillo regime in the Dominican Republic when she was 10, but in Before We Were Free she imagines, through the stories of her cousins and friends, how it was for those who stayed behind.

Twelve-year-old Anita de la Torre is too involved with her own life to be more than dimly aware of the growing menace all around her, until her last cousins and uncles and aunts have fled to America and a fleet of black Volkswagens comes up the drive, bringing the secret police to the family compound to search their houses. Gradually, through overheard conversations and the explanations of her older sister, Lucinda, she comes to understand that her father and uncles are involved in a plot to kill El Jefe, the dictator, and that they are all in deadly peril. Anita's story is universal in its implications--she even keeps an Anne Frank-like diary when she and her mother must hide in a friend's house--and a tribute to those brave souls who feel, like Anita's father, that "life without freedom is no life at all." (Ages 10 to 14) --Patty Campbell

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:03 -0400)

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In the early 1960s in the Dominican Republic, twelve-year-old Anita learns that her family is involved in the underground movement to end the bloody rule of the dictator, General Trujillo.

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