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Read 180 Stage C Before We Were Free Enterprise Edition Audiobook Cd Set

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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 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


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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 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

30 review for Read 180 Stage C Before We Were Free Enterprise Edition Audiobook Cd Set

  1. 4 out of 5

    Myung-Hwan

    I really enjoyed this book. I read it as a part of our class novel and it was very well written. The book referenced important historical figures such as the Butterfly sisters and El Jefe. The protagonist matured physically and socially throughout the book as she realized that the world she lived in wasn't so great. Julia Alvarez wrote in a way that hooked me into the book and made me turn every single page of the book until the About Me of the book flap appeared. One element that got me so hook I really enjoyed this book. I read it as a part of our class novel and it was very well written. The book referenced important historical figures such as the Butterfly sisters and El Jefe. The protagonist matured physically and socially throughout the book as she realized that the world she lived in wasn't so great. Julia Alvarez wrote in a way that hooked me into the book and made me turn every single page of the book until the About Me of the book flap appeared. One element that got me so hooked was probably the character details. I felt as if I didn't miss a single part of the protagonist's life. I highly recommend this to those who enjoy deeply written characters and story plot lines.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Natalie

    This book was a solid "blah" for me. It wasn't that it was necessarily bad, it was just boring. Alvarez tried to make this book a heart-racing drama, but it just didn't cut it. Especially since Anita spent most of the book dealing with such average teenage problems, envying her sister, talking about puberty, and obsessing over her various crushes. High Points. Whenever there was actually some suspense...not very often. Trujillo's interest in her sister (unlikely, but actually quite grotesquely su This book was a solid "blah" for me. It wasn't that it was necessarily bad, it was just boring. Alvarez tried to make this book a heart-racing drama, but it just didn't cut it. Especially since Anita spent most of the book dealing with such average teenage problems, envying her sister, talking about puberty, and obsessing over her various crushes. High Points. Whenever there was actually some suspense...not very often. Trujillo's interest in her sister (unlikely, but actually quite grotesquely suspenseful). The title and cover. Low Points. Most of the book-the excessive dialogue and conversations that bored me to tears. Anything puberty related. Writing in a diary: Dear Anita, Writing depressingly in a diary in captivity is totally taken. Sincerely, Anne Frank Anita herself. I wanted to feel bad for her, but she was such a Mary-Sue, I just ended up wanting to yell at her to grow up already. Most of the other characters were too stereotypical: kind-hearted father, protective mother, obstinate yet comforting older sister, wise grandma, etc. I think you'll like this book if you like Newbery honor books, like, say, Roll of Thunder Hear my Cry. For me, it just didn't pass the sniff test.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tammy

    Interesting historical fiction novel based on the authors childhood that takes place in the Dominican Republic in the 1960's during Trujillo's regime. Even though it takes place over 50 years ago the story is still very relatable today. It reminded me a lot of the current civil unrest that is going on in Venezuela. Popsugar Challenge 2019 - An "own voices" book Interesting historical fiction novel based on the authors childhood that takes place in the Dominican Republic in the 1960's during Trujillo's regime. Even though it takes place over 50 years ago the story is still very relatable today. It reminded me a lot of the current civil unrest that is going on in Venezuela. Popsugar Challenge 2019 - An "own voices" book

  4. 5 out of 5

    Edward K

    These days, I haven’t been reading a lot except one book and it is The Shining but I already wrote about it. The only other book that I am reading besides that book is the school book, Before We Were Free. Even though it is a school book, I find it interesting with a great storyline and a lot of hints and symbols in it. I recommend the book to anyone who wants to learn more about the Dominican Republic and the time where they weren’t free from the dictator El Jefe, and someone who just can’t fin These days, I haven’t been reading a lot except one book and it is The Shining but I already wrote about it. The only other book that I am reading besides that book is the school book, Before We Were Free. Even though it is a school book, I find it interesting with a great storyline and a lot of hints and symbols in it. I recommend the book to anyone who wants to learn more about the Dominican Republic and the time where they weren’t free from the dictator El Jefe, and someone who just can’t find a book to read like myself and wants something interesting and that will get your attention. It is about a girl and her family who are trying to be free from the dictator El Jefe and live a better life.The book made me want to read more and more even beyond the chapter we are supposed to finish off at. The story is in present tense form and is in the point of view of the main character which I enjoyed a lot since I can step into her shoes and imagine as if I’m in her place. The book has many symbols which I think people who want to compare this book to life and other things will enjoy. Often, there would be an important object that symbolizes the main character, or Anita’s, life. For example, her diary said a lot about how they have to be private and erase things so that no one can see. Overall, I think this is a great book with many symbols that make you think and compare it to life and it has an interesting plot so for the people, like myself, who don’t find reading enjoyable or fun, it is a book that I would definitely recommend.

  5. 5 out of 5

    ˗ˏˋ janet ˊˎ˗

    3.5 It was very well written and you could clearly see the development Anita had by the way she acted, talked and the thoughts she had. It’s nice to see how little she knew at the beginning and how she understood everything later on. She went through so much so young and rose above it.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Crystal Bandel

    Before We Were Free by Julia Alvarez, published 2002. Historical fiction. Novel. Grades 7-10. Found via Horn Book Magazine, reviewed by Lauren Adams. Anita is an upper-class girl in the Dominican Republic, living through the end of the Trujillo dictatorship and trying to make sense of it all. She begins the novel clueless about the dictatorship, as many readers might be, and slowly she pieces together her family's fears and the freedoms that have been taken from everyone. As Anita learns more and kee Before We Were Free by Julia Alvarez, published 2002. Historical fiction. Novel. Grades 7-10. Found via Horn Book Magazine, reviewed by Lauren Adams. Anita is an upper-class girl in the Dominican Republic, living through the end of the Trujillo dictatorship and trying to make sense of it all. She begins the novel clueless about the dictatorship, as many readers might be, and slowly she pieces together her family's fears and the freedoms that have been taken from everyone. As Anita learns more and keeps a diary—which she erases when she feels her thoughts could be incriminating—her family's presence in the resistance becomes clearer, culminating in her father and uncle participating in the assassination of the dictator. Because the resistance's plans fall through, Anita's father and uncle are arrested, and she, her mother, and her brother have to go into hiding to escape a similar fate. Eventually Anita and her nuclear family move to the United States to live with the rest of her family, while they wait for the final news of her father and uncle. This heart-wrenching story is based on the author's family's experiences, and it feels realistically detailed, reflecting the many concerns of a girl coming of age during such turbulent times. As the reviewer states, "these [accounts] can't compare to her historical predecessor Anne Frank's, well, few can. But Anita's own story is a realistic and compelling account of a girl growing up too quickly while coming to terms with the cost of freedom." Readers should be warned of descriptions of violence and murder to others, as well as descriptions of Anita beginning puberty.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kavitha Sivakumar

    >>What good is to escape captivity only to be imprisoned in your own misery? >>It is the responsibility of those who survive the struggle for freedom to give testimony. To tell the story in order to keep alive the memory of the dead. This is my second book of this author, the first being "In the time of the butterflies". Actually, this book is in some ways a continuation/sequel to the book "In the time of the butterflies" only told from the view point of 12 year old girl Anita. It is at once heart >>What good is to escape captivity only to be imprisoned in your own misery? >>It is the responsibility of those who survive the struggle for freedom to give testimony. To tell the story in order to keep alive the memory of the dead. This is my second book of this author, the first being "In the time of the butterflies". Actually, this book is in some ways a continuation/sequel to the book "In the time of the butterflies" only told from the view point of 12 year old girl Anita. It is at once heart wrenching and full of hope. Like the author said, yet another fight for freedom against dictatorship. Being young, Anita was confused about what was going on, why their life was at risk, why SIM was in front of her house, why her relatives moved to US leaving her family alone, why, why, and why. Sometimes she got answers, mostly not. She was terrified when SIM raided her house, arrested her father and when she and her mother had to hide in their friend's house (in the closet) without anyone's knowledge except two persons in the house. To look from her point of view, I felt the despair and fear that such dictatorship wreak on so many people's life. Even though the author doesn't say, she herself was Anita's age when she witnessed El Jefe's dictatorship and her family escaped to US before serious harm could come to her family.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Keri

    Actual Rating: 4.5 stars Reread (September 2019): This book was just as hard-hitting and amazing the second time around. Definitely a must-read. April 2018: I really enjoyed this book! This book takes place in the Dominican Republic in the 1960s and gives insight into Trujillo’s dictatorship through the eyes of a 12 year old. I loved (but also was somewhat saddened) by how innocent and naive the beginning of the narrative was and how increasingly aware, dark, and serious it became throughout later c Actual Rating: 4.5 stars Reread (September 2019): This book was just as hard-hitting and amazing the second time around. Definitely a must-read. April 2018: I really enjoyed this book! This book takes place in the Dominican Republic in the 1960s and gives insight into Trujillo’s dictatorship through the eyes of a 12 year old. I loved (but also was somewhat saddened) by how innocent and naive the beginning of the narrative was and how increasingly aware, dark, and serious it became throughout later chapters. This book was extremely well-written and I totally recommend it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    Anita de la Torre lives with her extended family in the Dominican Republic during the increasing cruel Trujillo dictatorship. Most of her family has escaped to the U.S., but she and her immediate family stay to "take care of the store", which Anita finds out means working with the underground resistance. Anita de la Torre lives with her extended family in the Dominican Republic during the increasing cruel Trujillo dictatorship. Most of her family has escaped to the U.S., but she and her immediate family stay to "take care of the store", which Anita finds out means working with the underground resistance.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Veronica

    Wow...This is so amazing. A YA book about living under the Trujillo regime in the Dominican Republic.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Diana

    Before We Were Free [2002] – ★★★★ Julia Alvarez’s Before We Were Free is a moving coming-of-age account of a young girl who grows up in the Dominican Republic under the dictatorship in the late 1950s. Anita de la Torre may be only twelve but she already knows what it is like to have her family members suddenly disappear and a secret police raiding her home. Alvarez’s book strikes a delicate balance between the joys and sorrows of late childhood, including first love and early teenage insecurities Before We Were Free [2002] – ★★★★ Julia Alvarez’s Before We Were Free is a moving coming-of-age account of a young girl who grows up in the Dominican Republic under the dictatorship in the late 1950s. Anita de la Torre may be only twelve but she already knows what it is like to have her family members suddenly disappear and a secret police raiding her home. Alvarez’s book strikes a delicate balance between the joys and sorrows of late childhood, including first love and early teenage insecurities, and the external tragedy and the experience of the world falling apart because of random acts of violence. The book is short and easy to read, even though it does lose some of its compelling force in the middle and no longer provides any fresh insights by the end. One of the great things about Before We Were Free is that it is based on a personal account of the author, who was born in the US, and then was taken to live in the Dominican Republic, before fleeing from there at the age of ten since her father participated in “a failed plot to overthrow a dictator”. In Before We Were Free, the author imagines a girl of twelve years old who finds herself in a similar situation to the author. Anita’s uncle has disappeared, there are strange sightings in an abandoned house next door, and she makes friends with the son of an American Ambassador – Sam Washburn. It is particularly interesting to read her account because, despite the difficulties that her family faces, Anita is still a young girl and lives partly in her childish world, just some steps away from her teenage years. Despite forced disappearances and activities of the secret police in her region, she wants to do well in school and be liked by the boys she likes. In this sense, Alvarez is very good in blending this childhood/early teenage sense of wonder with the horrific reality which is going on outside of Anita’s house. Often we only read rumours of horrific things going on because our point of view is Anita, who is often at her house, but these hints and rumours are enough for us to form the general picture of the ruthless dictatorship and violent persecutions that are ongoing outside of Anita’s safe environment. The paradox of the book is that, when Anita says less, she actually says more, and we can discern what she is feeling inside through the topics she wants to focus upon. Anita fears that her older sister Lucinda will be taken by the dictator by force, since the dictator already expressed his interest in Lucinda, and Anita also has to be careful not to divulge the secrets of her family to anyone, for example, the fact that her uncle may be in the vicinity: “Papi and Tio Toni are so brave. It makes me want to be like Joan of Arc, a courageous girl who heard heavenly voices. But, unfortunately, unlike Saint Joan, I’ve yet to hear a voice tell me what I can do to help my suffering country”. As the possibility looms in the horizon that the family of Anita may escape to the United States to live free lives, she also realises she has to grow up fast and face up to her responsibilities. Before We Were Free reads like a YA novel and, in a sense, it is, but inside, it still pack a punch reserved for adult audiences because it deals with very serious issues, as seen through the eyes of a child/teenage girl. And, if the book feels very personal, it is because it is – pretty much so. It becomes easy to sympathise with vulnerability, innocence and the desire for happiness when outside forces just do not let a person to develop and lead the life they want. Children often experience the effects of conflict and trauma much more keenly than adults do, and children are much more sensitive to everything that is going on around them than are adults, who already know in their minds what to disregard and what to forget. Children have to learn by observing others and when they observe fear and distress on their parents’ faces – they live through much more than their parents realise, even if they do also have copying mechanisms than most adults simply do not possess, including retreating into their fantasy worlds. In this sense, Anita’s focus on her boy crushes may also be the response of her trying to concentrate on things other than the grim version of truth presented in the outside world, and not simply the urges of a teenage girl. But, Before We Were Free is also a book about hope, and about the importance of never losing it. It is through the strength we find in others than we can also find our courage to face a situation. In one interview, the author stated that “Robert Desnos, a French poet who died in a concentration camp, once said that the task of being a human being was “not only to be one’s self, but to become each other”. That is what compassion and freedom are all about”. One should not be complacent, indifferent to the pain of others and only react when some trouble touches one because, otherwise, everyone would be an isolated island thinking only of themselves, without connecting to others emotionally – to people just like themselves who are in need of help. Reminiscent of The Diary of Anne Frank [1947], Before We Were Free is a story of hardship and survival through the eyes of a twelve year old girl who is forced to endure what no child should experience – growing up in a family that is constantly under threat of murder or torture. This very personal novel is a true page-turner, but it is probably the importance of its message, rather than the story, that will stay with you.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Adriana

    This made me think of my father and my grandparents. What they must have faced in Cuba before they were free. This hit me hard thinking that my family could have been easily killed and my family and my life would have not existed. What a powerful children's book. This made me think of my father and my grandparents. What they must have faced in Cuba before they were free. This hit me hard thinking that my family could have been easily killed and my family and my life would have not existed. What a powerful children's book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    CJ Baroni

    Before we were Free was written by Julia Alvarez. Julia Alvarez was born on March 27, 1950 in New York City to a Dominican family. Alvarez is an impressive Dominican-American poet, novelist, and essayist. Alvarez has also written famous novels like In the Time of the Butterflies and How the García Girls Lost Their Accent. In this historical fiction, it is about life in the Dominican Republic from the eyes of a young girl, Anita de la Torre. Anita and her family are under the rule of a dictator, Before we were Free was written by Julia Alvarez. Julia Alvarez was born on March 27, 1950 in New York City to a Dominican family. Alvarez is an impressive Dominican-American poet, novelist, and essayist. Alvarez has also written famous novels like In the Time of the Butterflies and How the García Girls Lost Their Accent. In this historical fiction, it is about life in the Dominican Republic from the eyes of a young girl, Anita de la Torre. Anita and her family are under the rule of a dictator, Rafael Trujillo or also known as Mr. Smith. Anita’s father and her uncle, Tio Toni, are part of a special group of men trying to assassinate Trujillo. Anita is trying to act normal and typical but she understands that something serious is going to take place. Anita has become agitated and erases her diary everyday so no one can figure out what she has been thinking or reflecting about. Family members start to leave the country, secrets start to unravel and intimidating men start to invade the compound. Throughout all of this change, Anita has started to become an independent woman. One strength I enjoy about Alvarez’s writing is to make me feel like I am in the story and how I can see and feel what Anita is going through. The author’s writing style shows that Anita is growing up to become a strong woman or senorita. “The last thing I want is a man knowing I’ve gotten my period.” (Alvarez p.73) This quote shows how Anita is growing up to be a senorita. Anita has grown up from being a young girl to a responsible woman. She has grown physically, mentally, and emotionally. Here is another reason why Anita is at her ‘coming of age’, “But I don’t cry. Not right away. I listen carefully until the very end. I want to be with Papi and Tio Toni every step of the way.” (Alvarez p.151) Anita handled this situation when she was a twelve year-old girl. She showed how she is now a senorita and a mature young lady. Anita is at her ‘coming of age’, and the book's theme is: ‘coming of age’. Through all of this change, Anita matures, discovers, and understands what it is to be truly free. In all honesty, I am pleased with this novel. Alvarez wrote some excellent values and lessons to be learned and I will never forget them. The valuable lessons has affected me to see how fortunate I am. I did not have a clue who Rafael Trujillo was, and what life was like under his rule. After reading this book, I see how difficult life was in the Dominican Republic. I recommend this book to everyone out there. If you enjoy vivid and dramatic books, this is the right book. I am impressed how Alvarez wrote this incredible novel and I hope you like it as much as I did. I look forward to read more books from Alvarez.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Dusty

    In 1960, at the age of 10, author Julia Alvarez fled the Dominican Republican in the company of her parents, who had collaborated in a plot to overthrow the longstanding dictator, Rafael Trujillo. While Before We Were Free is not a strictly autobiographical account of these events, it is clearly influenced by them. Like Alvarez, the novel's narrator is a young girl coming of age during the final years of the dictatorship. Over the course of the novel, she realizes that the man whose portrait han In 1960, at the age of 10, author Julia Alvarez fled the Dominican Republican in the company of her parents, who had collaborated in a plot to overthrow the longstanding dictator, Rafael Trujillo. While Before We Were Free is not a strictly autobiographical account of these events, it is clearly influenced by them. Like Alvarez, the novel's narrator is a young girl coming of age during the final years of the dictatorship. Over the course of the novel, she realizes that the man whose portrait hangs on the walls at school and at home is not a beneficent national father and that her own father is conspiring to have him killed. Alvarez is an author I have been meaning to read for years, and I picked up this particular novel with the idea that I might add it to my syllabus for a class on young adult literature. Certainly, the book excels at revealing the injustices of the Trujillo regime through the eyes of an pre-adolescent narrator. Though I was familiar with the general history of the period, I learned a great deal about how it felt to live in an oppressive regime that is being shunned by the rest of the world. I was especially interested in the scenes set in the US American school, which the narrator attends alongside the children of diplomats from other countries. Though the teacher pities her Dominican students for their country's political situation, she demeans them in other ways--by drawing condescending contrasts between the honorable United States and corrupt Dominican Republic, by assigning the darker skinned Dominican students the roles of Native Americans in the class's Thanksgiving play, and so forth. Perhaps one of the benefits of the embargo is that this school was forced to close. Ultimately, I think the book works better as a history lesson than a novel, and honestly I am a little surprised by the accolades it has received. As a reader, I found the narrator's voice rather "evolved" for a twelve-year-old, with reflections and an expressive style that seem unrealistic for her age. Worse, so many of the scenes between the characters themselves feel abridged, as if the author had been required by contract to keep the book at less than 200 pages. This is particularly evident in the scenes involving Tony, the narrator's rebellious uncle. At the book's beginning, the author suggests that Tony has been "disappeared" by the dictator he had been discrediting. Then, when he finally returns home, his backstory and family reunion are summarized in a couple of efficient paragraphs without even a word of dialogue. As a didactic novel for use in the middle school classroom, the book accomplishes its purposes in spades. As a novel to recommend to adults not reading it for a class? Meh.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Katrina

    In Julia Alvarez’s first young adult novel, Before we were Free, we meet 12-year-old Anita de la Torre. Like many young children, she is curious and talkative. Having lived a comfortingly protected life thus far, Anita is sweetly innocent and naïve. Her life seems rather normal. She annoys her older sister and has a crush on her new American neighbor Sam. However all of this will change quickly. The story takes place in the Dominican Republic during the months leading up to the assassination of In Julia Alvarez’s first young adult novel, Before we were Free, we meet 12-year-old Anita de la Torre. Like many young children, she is curious and talkative. Having lived a comfortingly protected life thus far, Anita is sweetly innocent and naïve. Her life seems rather normal. She annoys her older sister and has a crush on her new American neighbor Sam. However all of this will change quickly. The story takes place in the Dominican Republic during the months leading up to the assassination of the infamous dictator Trujillo. As the events of the story unfold, Anita’s life is forever changed. Anita comes to realize that “El Jefe” is in fact, not the hero she believed him to be, but a dictator who threatens her family and friends, disappearing and torturing many Dominicans. She is forced to grapple with what is right and wrong, as family members flee the country, while others are forced into hiding. Her life is literally invaded by El Jefe’s Secret Police, the SIM. Anita’s diary, a place where she once could pour out her heart, becomes a danger. She is forced to erase all she has written so that it will not give anything away if found by the SIM. It is here that we encounter one of the most powerful parts of the novel. As Anita tries to deal with the fact that her world is crumbling around her, she loses her words. She falls into a silence she can’t seem to break. She finds she can’t remember words anymore, she can’t speak. The curious young girl nicknamed cotorrita (literally a chatterbox or parrot) is silenced by what happens around her. When forced into hiding with her mother, Anita goes back to her diary, writing again so that if they don’t survive, their story is left behind. As Anita begins to write again, sharing their story, her voice comes back. Anita survives, eventually making her way to the United States to join other family members in New York City. The overthrow of the Trujillo regime cost her dearly. She’s no longer the innocent child we met at the beginning of the story, but instead a survivor--an example of how we must fight to find our voices again, how we can persevere to put the pieces of our life back together again. While Anita’s life is much different than the average child in the United States, students will have no trouble identifying with the engaging character that Alvarez offers us. Her beautiful imagery, literary style, and historical content make it a book well worth reading in our classrooms. Check out our free Educator’s Guide for the book at http://teachinglatinamericathroughlit...

  16. 4 out of 5

    Peter Gilbert

    Before We Were Free by Julia Alvarez was a great read. This book because it was told from the perspective of a kid, made it easy for me to relate and understand what was happening. The book is realistic fiction, based in the Dominican Republic and New York. Papi, Mami, Tio Toni play the main roles in the story while it is narrated by Anita, the youngest sibling. Anita has two other siblings; Mundin and Lucinda, who also play big roles throughout the book. Throughout the book we see what it was Before We Were Free by Julia Alvarez was a great read. This book because it was told from the perspective of a kid, made it easy for me to relate and understand what was happening. The book is realistic fiction, based in the Dominican Republic and New York. Papi, Mami, Tio Toni play the main roles in the story while it is narrated by Anita, the youngest sibling. Anita has two other siblings; Mundin and Lucinda, who also play big roles throughout the book. Throughout the book we see what it was like to live in the Dominican Republic and how important the role of family is. We also see through the story what the title; Before We Were Free really means. At first glance this book might not seem like a hard read but it is because of all the small and subtle things that the authors does that makes the book what it is. For example on page 93 when Anita is kissed by Oscar “...to be getting my first kiss!” Previously in the book Anita is in love with another boy from America. You could look at this and just see a girl having a change of emotions or could relate it back to the book. In the book America is stepping back and Sam is from America, and Oscar is stepping up and he's not from America. Even though I mentioned earlier how I liked how Julia Alvarez made Anita the narrator, I wish there would have been more than just her perspective. Because Anita is a child and still learning what is going on, and so are we, it is very helpful to have her perspective. Later on in the book when we know what is going on and we want to be more involved in the story and not on the outside it would have been nice if the author would have just mixed up the perspectives. I would 100 percent recommend this book to a person who can look past it as a easy read and but a easy read with a big message. I would say kids from 6th grade up could read it but they might not fully grasp the magnitude of the book. This book did not feel like a school book to read but a free read book that you could not wait to get back to.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Adriana Villagomez

    As a child, do you remember being so excited for your birthday to arrive that that was the only thing on your mind? Anita, is turning 12 years old and that's the only thing on her mind during an unusual time of civil war and unrest in her country. Our main character, Anita, lives in the Dominican Republic. As events escalate as the book continues, Anita realizes that the safety of her family is more important. Anita’s father and uncle are part of a group that successfully assassinated the dictat As a child, do you remember being so excited for your birthday to arrive that that was the only thing on your mind? Anita, is turning 12 years old and that's the only thing on her mind during an unusual time of civil war and unrest in her country. Our main character, Anita, lives in the Dominican Republic. As events escalate as the book continues, Anita realizes that the safety of her family is more important. Anita’s father and uncle are part of a group that successfully assassinated the dictator of the Dominican Republic. Just when they think the trouble and turmoil is over, the dictator’s son rises into power and gets revenge on Anita’s father and uncle. Anita and her mother eventually escape to New York City where she finds that freedom comes from within rather than the bounds that people may set on you. Before We Were Free is a great novel for middle school children who appreciate history and get to see a point of view of a child who is of the same age. These children can try to imagine Anita’s situation and maybe try to relate it to themselves in some way. This is a good resource for teachers to have because it will allow them to talk about different perspectives and the sense of freedom a person can have, while also talking about a point in history in another part of the world that is never really mentioned or talked about. A unit possibility could include discovering how people fight to gain their freedom in a child’s perspective. Many children may be able to relate to the sense of freedom that Anita, too, desires.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Anthony Cho

    Before We Were Free 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 am not done reading this book yet, but am close to the ending. I relate to the character Anita, because just like her I am sort of caring for my family and my friends. Just li Before We Were Free 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 am not done reading this book yet, but am close to the ending. 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.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Paige

    This book tells an intriguing story of a young girl growing up in the Dominican Republic during the 1960's. I enjoyed this book, in fact, I couldn't put it down. Her story is so detailed and intricate you feel as if you are there with her experiencing the confusion and hostility. Being an adolescant, she is out of the loop on most of what is happening around her, no one informs her of anything and she is told not to ask questions. Seeing as the book is told from her point of view, the audience e This book tells an intriguing story of a young girl growing up in the Dominican Republic during the 1960's. I enjoyed this book, in fact, I couldn't put it down. Her story is so detailed and intricate you feel as if you are there with her experiencing the confusion and hostility. Being an adolescant, she is out of the loop on most of what is happening around her, no one informs her of anything and she is told not to ask questions. Seeing as the book is told from her point of view, the audience experiences the same craving for information and explanations. Julia Alvarez writes a suspenseful book that truly puts you in the Dominican Republic and a part of her family. I would highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to read a memoir or a historical novel. It is attention getting and sheds light on the history of their country in a devasting time in history.

  20. 5 out of 5

    William L

    I recommend the book “Before We Were Free” because it keeps the pages turning and at the same time it makes you tense and want to know what’s going to occur in the next page. I did not finish the book yet so I don’t know whether it was satisfying to read it or not but I can guarantee you that this book will make you satisfied. I can relate that I feel scared at times and I want to be brave but I don’t know what to do. The plot is suspenseful and interesting and the theme is very well developed. I recommend the book “Before We Were Free” because it keeps the pages turning and at the same time it makes you tense and want to know what’s going to occur in the next page. I did not finish the book yet so I don’t know whether it was satisfying to read it or not but I can guarantee you that this book will make you satisfied. I can relate that I feel scared at times and I want to be brave but I don’t know what to do. The plot is suspenseful and interesting and the theme is very well developed. I personally didn’t learn anything besides the history that occurred in the 1960’s. My thinking did not change after this book and there are some memorable quotes like one that Oscar makes: You can’t be brave if you’re not scared.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Brandon Genawese

    I really enjoyed reading this book, as it teaches a very important lesson to us all. The main antagonist is a dictator(El Jefe), and tries to take control of the Dominican Republic. Throughout the book the protagonist (Anita) endures a life that is totally out of her control. She has to live her life by the rules according to one person. The journey is both captivating with many dark, but also lighter moments. However it was very apparent that in the story there is no freedom in the DR like ther I really enjoyed reading this book, as it teaches a very important lesson to us all. The main antagonist is a dictator(El Jefe), and tries to take control of the Dominican Republic. Throughout the book the protagonist (Anita) endures a life that is totally out of her control. She has to live her life by the rules according to one person. The journey is both captivating with many dark, but also lighter moments. However it was very apparent that in the story there is no freedom in the DR like there is in the US. Personally this was really an eye opener. We take freedom for granted. But in reality there are people today who live restricted, under the control of one who abuses their power.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Diana

    This book taught me that at the end of the day all you have is family and you will do anything to protect them. It also reminded me what freedom really is and how sometimes we take the small things for granted.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Marten Wennik

    Wow, my first Alvarez novel and it moved me. A beautiful story about a history of which I knew relatively little. I will seriously consider this for my course for the seventh grade.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ayla

    A story of a girl Anita and her family during the dictatorship of Dominican dictator, Rafael Trujillo and their fight for freedom and the losses they incurred in getting it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Olivia

    It was really good, I read it a while ago, so I don't really remember all the details, but from what I do it was fantastic! It was really good, I read it a while ago, so I don't really remember all the details, but from what I do it was fantastic!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Deacon Tom F

    A story of courage even through the eyes of a young woman. As they escape revolution in the Dominican Republic, she is not given the background. So, she has to give her total faith and trust in her mother. Great way of developing this story.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Wagner

    I liked this book a lot. I felt connected to the protagonist and I think the author does a good job of helping you feel the emotions that the protagonist was going through. Before reading it, I did not know about the dictatorship in the Dominican Republic, so it was interesting to learn about it.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Brenna

    Amazing! I am so glad I found this book at the library. And I so wish the school I went to growing up had something like this on the required reading list. Yes, Alvarez wrote this as a novel, but it does have some of the Dominican Republic's political history in it. Anita's extended family also deals with emigrating from the Dominican Republic. Anita's diary plays a big part of the plot. Anita uses both English and Spanish, like many in her family. Alvarez allows Anita the chance to grow, be cou Amazing! I am so glad I found this book at the library. And I so wish the school I went to growing up had something like this on the required reading list. Yes, Alvarez wrote this as a novel, but it does have some of the Dominican Republic's political history in it. Anita's extended family also deals with emigrating from the Dominican Republic. Anita's diary plays a big part of the plot. Anita uses both English and Spanish, like many in her family. Alvarez allows Anita the chance to grow, be courageous, be strong, while still being fearful for her family during the political turmoil of her homeland. All while being a preteen who simply wants to grow up. A great book-I would definitely recommend this. Especially for teachers to share with students. Social Justice, Immigration issues, history, Spanish Language, so much covered in such a little book!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Stull

    The novel, Before We Were Free, by Julia Alvarez is one of thrill, excitement, and sadness to help the reader see through the eyes of a twelve year-old girl. Ms. Alvarez currently resides in Middlebury, Vermont, but was born and raised in the Dominican Republic. However, when she was ten years old, she spent her years in New York, New York. Ms. Alvarez currently resides in a peaceful and tranquil area, whereas in her childhood years, it was not like the calm town she lives in today. No, but she The novel, Before We Were Free, by Julia Alvarez is one of thrill, excitement, and sadness to help the reader see through the eyes of a twelve year-old girl. Ms. Alvarez currently resides in Middlebury, Vermont, but was born and raised in the Dominican Republic. However, when she was ten years old, she spent her years in New York, New York. Ms. Alvarez currently resides in a peaceful and tranquil area, whereas in her childhood years, it was not like the calm town she lives in today. No, but she uses the most simplistic characters and make them into the most well-rounded people through events that, frankly, no one but her could come up with. She most likely gets her inspirations from her time in the Dominican Republic where she was living under the rule of the cruel dictator known as Rafael Trujillo. This is also where this great story begins. However, it wasn't the summary that got me hooked, it was the acknowledgement page that did. It simply states, "for those who stayed". I immediately wonder why Alvarez would put this in. Who stayed? Why did they stay? Did they have to?At this point I was hooked because obviously, one of the author’s purposes is to answer these questions. Her other purpose is to influence you to get you to think as if you were a twelve year-old girl living in the middle of a dictatorship. She wants you to feel empathetic for this girl so that she can keep the plot hidden from us as it was for the main character. This is just one way the author brings you into her story. She wants you to feel what she has wrote and she has succeeded. This twelve-chapter story takes the reader to the Dominican Republic and places you in the shoes of a twelve year-old girl named Anita de la Torre. Each character created by Julia Alvarez is able to capture your attention through Anita's perspective whether it is her father, Papi, a mysterious person who either disappoint you as he disappointed Anita, or is it Anita’s family maid (Chucha) who is a very superstitious woman and doesn't make too many appearances in the reading, but makes a huge impact in Anita's life during and after the Dominican Republic. In the first chapter, she draws you in by showing how everyone begins to be nervous. This is blatantly shown when it reads, "But lately, Papi looks pretty worried himself. When I ask questions, he replies with 'Children should be seen, not heard' instead of his usual 'Curiosity is a sign of intelligence.'" (Before We Were Free pg. 2). This quote shows that Anita talks a lot in the beginning of the story- questions everything and wondering about every action of the people around her. Alvarez also conveys in this quote that everyone is starting to get nervous when Anita's best friend, Carla Garcia, was told to leave class with her parents at the classroom door in the middle of the day. This is where the tension begins. Julia Alvarez continues the tension in the story when she mentions that Anita's uncle, Tio Toni, has disappeared. Then, about two months later the SIM, Rafael Trujillo's secret henchmen, enter the house compound where the de la Torre family lives. They tear apart their house looking for any reason they would be plotting against "their" president. Later, because someone in or related to the de la Torre family did something for the United States, the American consul, Mr. Washburn and his family move into the compound to protect the de la Torre family. Finally, as Papi is holding a gun at his waist, he kisses Anita's forehead and walks out the door to a running car. Will what comes next solve all their problems or does it create more? Julia Alvarez succeeds in her goal of creating an emotional ride for the reader. She makes her points of Anita's curiosity and her journey to be free throughout the story and makes the reader question if the characters made the right decisions for the wrong reasons or made the wrong decisions for the right reasons. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants some thrill from the 60's with inner and external conflicts with all of the characters.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jun Lee

    Before We Were Free is a historical fiction written by Julia Alvarez. This book makes readers think more critically with implied messages and historical background. Before We Were Free is narrated by an 11 years old girl, Anita whose perspective gradually changes as she becomes more mature and undergoes tragic situations that most children do not often experience. This book is based on the Dominican Republic’s history - how Rafael Trujillo ruled the country with his autocratic ruthless power for Before We Were Free is a historical fiction written by Julia Alvarez. This book makes readers think more critically with implied messages and historical background. Before We Were Free is narrated by an 11 years old girl, Anita whose perspective gradually changes as she becomes more mature and undergoes tragic situations that most children do not often experience. This book is based on the Dominican Republic’s history - how Rafael Trujillo ruled the country with his autocratic ruthless power for over 31 years. The book is based on the author’s own experiences in the Dominican Republic. Although Julia Alvarez was born in New York City, her parents decided to live in the country under Trujillo’s dictatorship temporarily. Fortunately, Julia Alvarez escaped from the Dominican Republic and she now resides in Vermont. Before We Were Free draws attention to readers by suggestive hints, making them sympathetic, and giving moral lessons that readers take away from the story. The book consists of many implied messages that made me curious on what will happen next. When Anita faces adversities that Papi and Uncle Toni fight against Trujillo’s power, Anita says “Chucha’s dream: first Lucinda, then Mundín, and then Mami and me flying in the sky. I had pictured us to taking off to the United States of America” (pg. 98). The quote shows Anita’s family members and the order in which they might move to the United States. All except Anita’s dad. Since Papi’s was not in Chucha’s dream, I wondered what would happen to him. The greatest strength of Before We Were Free is that it truly conveys its message to the readers. This is because the book is clearly depicted as an 11 years old girl’s perspective. I was able put myself into Anita’s shoes and understand her emotions because I felt like I was Anita while I was reading. The potency to make readers sympathize with the content of the book is the greatest strength in my opinion. The last point that I value in Before We Were Free is that it imparts important life lessons. Throughout the book, I understood Alvarez’s intention to write this book, which was to reveal the lives of the people in the Dominican Republic. When Papi decided to sacrifice himself for his family and the nation, I had a strong sense that being a father means a lot more than what I can grasp or understand as of now. Since I was thinking of Anita recognizing reality as she becomes old in the book, Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers came in my mind to compare between the two books. Yellow Birds is centered on Iraq War and Bartle, who attend the war. Bartle first believes that sacrificing for the nation is an honored duty as an American citizen. However, after he faces numerous innocent citizens lying on the ground, he begins to notice that this situation is not the one he imagined. After Bartle returns to the United States, he and other soldiers are blamed by decimating many people rather than getting applause. Throughout Yellow Birds, Bartle figures out what the reality is. This is similar to Before We Were Free because Anita portraits Rafael Trujillo as George Washington with respect in the beginning. However, as time goes on, she soon knows that Trujillo was a brutal dictator. Both Yellow Bird and Before We Were Free describe the steps of the main characters realizing reality. Before We Were Free is the book that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. Finding clues and imagining what would happen next caused me to be utterly fascinated. I definitely recommend this book because readers learn the history of the Dominican Republic. Additionally, by learning the history of the country, it reminds me what Papi emphasizes, which is that education is important because it definitely shows that having an uneducated leader causes chaos. This book would be a great resource to have an interdisciplinary course in English and History.

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