1. To enter, leave a comment. Make sure to include a valid email address (don’t worry, it won’t be posted online)
2. In the comment, tell me about your favorite novel
3. Only one entry per person (honor code, don’t use more than one email address, folks)
4. Contest closes at 11:59 pm on Wednesday, March 23rd
5. Two winners will be picked at random
Also, tune in to Monday’s webcast. Alvarez will be interviewed by acclaimed writer Edwidge Danticat about In the Time of the Butterflies. The interview will take place in Miami at Books in Books and will be webcast online. I’ll be checking it out as I recover from the marathon!
Monday, March 21
7:00 pm EST
Streaming live at Algonquin Book Club
Click through to read why In the Time of the Butterflies is my favorite novel. It’s not because of my affinity for butterflies…
I never have to think twice when identifying my favorite novel.
For at least ten years, it’s been Julia Alvarez’s In the Time of the Butterflies. I remember the summer I went through Alvarez’s first three novels, 1999. I found How the García Girls Lost Their Accents while perusing the stacks at my local branch of the LA County Library in Hacienda Heights. I enjoyed García Girls and followed up with her next novel, Yo!. Butterflies was my third Alvarez novel that summer. I loved it.
I was at a point where I was just learning about strong women and resistance movements in the US and Latin America. Before picking up Alvarez’s novels, I knew little about the Dominican Republic aside from the fact that it’s home to many MLB players. I’d never heard of Trujillo, his secret police in their black Volkswagen Beetles, his lust for teen girls, and the terror he brought to the DR. And I knew nothing about the movement to topple him.
Alvarez’s historical fiction novel centers on four women, the Mirabal sisters. It begins when they’re just girls in the DR countryside. In each of their voices, they tell us of their loves, their studies, their family and their growing political consciousness. They becomes wives and mothers and ultimately, martyrs for the freedom of their beloved country. Needless to say, the budding Chicana feminist activist in me was inspired. If Minerva, María Teresa and Patria, could sustain torture and imprisonment and ultimately give their lives, I had to do something.
Since that summer, I’ve read everything Alvarez has published I can get my hands on. She continues to be one of my favorite writers and is the source of one of my favorite quotes on writing:
“Does writing really matter? It is the hardest and the best question I’ve been asked anywhere… it matters, of course it matters.”
– Julia Alvarez in Something to Declare
Lately, Alvarez has published a few youth novels and children’s books. Her latest youth novel, Return to Sender is an artful, realistic and touching take on the immigration debate and how it affects children and families. I’d recommend it for kids as well as adults.