It is November 25, 1960, and the bodies of three beautiful, convent-educated sisters have been found near their wrecked Jeep at the bottom of a 150-foot cliff on the north coast of the Dominican Republic. El Caribe, the official newspaper, reports their deaths as an accident. It does not mention that a fourth sister lives. Nor does it explain that the sisters were among the leading opponents of Gen. Raphael Leonidas Trujillo's dictatorship. It doesn't have to. Everyone knows of Las Mariposas - "The Butterflies." Now, three decades later, Julia Alvarez, also a daughter of the Dominican Republic and long haunted by these sisters, immerses us in a tangled and dangerous moment in Hispanic Caribbean history to tell their story in the only way it can truly be understood - through fiction. In this brilliantly characterized novel, the voices of all four sisters - Minerva, Patria, Maria Teresa, and Dede - speak across the decades, to tell their own stories - from hair ribbons to gunrunning to prison torture - and to describe the everyday horrors of life under Trujillo's rule. The Butterflies were extraordinary women. Minerva, once the object of the dictator's desire, had dared to publicly slap his face. Devout Patria found her calling to the uprising through the church. Alluring - and vain - Maria Teresa joined in pursuit of romance. Only Dede, the practical one, the most diligent in her duty to family and tradition, kept apart. And only she survived to see that their names were remembered. Now, through the art and magic of Julia Alvarez's imagination, the martyred Butterflies live again. And Dede joins them as a heroine of equal courage.
Julia Alvarez left the Dominican Republic for the United States in 1960 at the age of ten. She is the author of six novels, three books of nonfiction, three collections of poetry, and eleven books for children and young adults. She has taught and mentored writers in schools and communities across America and, until her retirement in 2016, was a writer in residence at Middlebury College. Her work has garnered wide recognition, including a Latina Leader Award in Literature from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, the Hispanic Heritage Award in Literature, the Woman of the Year by Latina magazine, and inclusion in the New York Public Library's program "The Hand of the Poet: Original Manuscripts by 100 Masters, from John Donne to Julia Alvarez." In the Time of the Butterflies, with over one million copies in print, was selected by the National Endowment for the Arts for its national Big Read program, and in 2013 President Obama awarded Alvarez the National Medal of Arts in recognition of her extraordinary storytelling.