My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I read this book to keep up with a student I'm tutoring, and I was truly blown away. Telling the fictionalized stories of the real life martyred freedom fighters the Mirabal Sisters--who fought against the Dominican Republic's brutal dictator, Trujillo or El Jefe--it's an unputdownable portrait of the struggle to maintain one's soul and humanity under an absolute dictatorship. It's also about gender and sex and sisterhood and family and coming-of-age, and Alvarez weaves the disparate themes together seamlessly, giving each of the four sisters a distinct personality and perspective.
Alvarez's imagery and symbolism reach the level of mysticism, while her brutal description of life as a political prisoner is as earth-bound as any. She inhabits her characters deeply without judgment and writes of shoe-buying trips and grenade-smuggling with the same sincerity and detail.
"Butterflies" had all the wonderful insight and beautiful language of "How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents" but so much more urgency and tension due to the political situation and the sense of impending doom.
I was honestly riveted and impressed from the first page to the last--this was the best and most surprising book I've read in a while.
See also, my review of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
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