This post is part of a feature at Jorie’s Reads by Starry Night Elf called “Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month.”
As high school seniors, we had to read Julia Alvarez’s In the Time of the Butterflies. While the guys balked, I finished the book long before it was due. Alvarez’s rendering of the Mirabal Sisters’ cause led me to do research in my spare time.
Later, I picked up her book How the García Girls Lost Their Accents and took note of her use of reverse chronological order. This is also present in In the Name of Salome. There’s no really unifying story line!
Many of Alvarez’s works are influenced by her experiences as a Dominican in the United States, and focus heavily on issues of assimilation and identity. Her cultural upbringing as both a Dominican and an American is evident in the combination of personal and political tone in her writing. She is known for works that examine cultural expectations of women both in the Dominican Republic and the United States, and for rigorous investigations of cultural stereotypes. In recent years, Alvarez has expanded her subject matter with works such as In the Name of Salomé (2000), a novel with Cuban rather than solely Dominican characters and fictionalized versions of historical figures.
In addition to her successful writing career, Alvarez is the current writer-in-residence at Middlebury College.
I often recommend Alvarez’s work. She writes everything from historical ficion – In the Name of Salomé, Alvarez’s telling noted Dominican poet Salomé Ureña and her daughter, Camila Henríquez Ureña to Young Adult – Finding Miracles to poetry. I like how diverse she is in her writing.
For more on Julia Alvarez, check out her site by clicking here.