Julia Alvarez: In the Time of the Butterflies (Paperback, 1995, Plume) 4 stars

It is November 25, 1960, and three beautiful sisters have been found near their wrecked …

Review of 'In the Time of the Butterflies' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

As Banned Books Week ends, I have just finished reading Julia Alvarez's "In the Time of the Butterflies." Alvarez tells of the Mirabal sisters in the Dominican Republic during the time of ruthless dictator Rafael Trujillo. Las mariposas, the butterflies, each in her own way, find the courage to oppose the brutalities of this despot, and three of them are murdered for their refusal to yield. The work is a historical fiction that develops a haunting and beautiful portrait each of the three murdered sisters and of the sister, Dede, who survives to tell their story. Alvarez weaves a remarkable story that is still compelling, even as the sisters draw toward their inevitable end. But the soul of the book is the celebration of their lives, and not a mordant fascination with their deaths.

The book has been banned for various reasons. It includes a crude diagram of a bomb the revolutionaries construct in their preparation for a revolution. Men and women portrayed in the novel have sexual feelings and act upon them, but not in a prurient manner. And more recently, conservatives are appalled that people being tortured and murdered in their country might speak well of revolutionaries in Cuba who overthrow their government. Mary Grabar is the most ludicrous of this sort of critic. She positively gets the vapors about the implied masturbation in one page and by the characters praising of Castro in some small sections when the entire book graphically portrays the terror of living under an autocratic regime.

, this is going from review to rant, but how can anyone be a professor of literature with this attitude: "I must admit that I would have been too embarrassed to teach Julia Alvarez’s sexually explicit novel, In the Time of the Butterflies, to the college students I have taught for over twenty years, much less to ninth- and tenth-graders, as many Georgia high school teachers have been instructed to do." First, that Georgia high school teachers have been told to teach the work to ninth and tenth graders is a damnable lie. And second, if you have seen Miley Cyrus lately, you aren't going to lose your innocence by reading a novel that's essence is the unyielding resolve of people, especially these women, and our ability to find courage in the most difficult and trying times.

Even today, Georgia's Governor Nathan Deal has asked that the Common Core English Language Arts exemplars be removed by the state board of education. Evidently, the Gov and his circle mistakenly believe that English teachers might see a two-page passage in the Common Core documents and think they must teach the novel to be able to pass the test. The governor has even called for the creation of a single state reading list of "approved" books.

certainly imagine that Rafael Trujillo would agree with that sentiment.