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Alvarez, Julia.
New York : Knopf, 2002.
IL 5-8, RL 7.3
ISBN 0375915443

(2 booktalks)

Booktalk #1

It is the 1960's and the Dominican Republic is ruled by a dictatorship. Twelve year old Anita watches as one by one her aunts, uncles, cousins and sister leave for America. Slowly she starts to understand what is happening as she finds out that her family is involved with an underground movement to overthrow the dictator General Trujillo. When their home is raided and the body of the assassinated dictator is found in the trunk of one of the cars her father and brother are hauled away. Quickly she and her mother must flee. Will they be rescued? Will they make it to America and what will become of Anita's brother and father? Find out by reading Before We Were Free. (Catherine Ryan, USC library school,

Booktalk #2

Before We Were Free is a simple story of a complex time about a family who struggles for freedom from an evil dictatorship. Twelve year old Anita de la Torre lives in the Dominican Republic in a compound with not only her parents but with her entire extended family.  Anita is experiencing the same feelings and changes that young girls everywhere go through as she finds herself facing her first crush and self esteem issues.  On top of all the pre-teen struggles however Anita has more serious problems brewing as members of her family begin disappearing including her favorite cousin Carla in the middle of a school day.  Soon the secret police begin coming around and searching the compound and although Anita records the events in her diary she must erase the entries immediately for fear of getting caught writing against the Trujillo regime that rules her home in a dictatorship.  Anita overhears relatives meeting often outside her bedroom window making plans for a resistance.  Anita’s mother grows worried, and her sister is sent away when the evil Trujillo sends her flowers.  As things grow worse her father and favorite uncle are arrested after the dictator is assassinated.  Anita and her mother are forced to go into hiding not knowing what has become of her beloved older brother, or whether her father is still alive.

The author, Julia Alvarez based this book on real events experienced by her cousin in the Dominican Republic and Julia herself lived there until her family fled when she was just 10 years old.  This book will keep your interest from start to finish and will leave you grateful that you live in a democratic society where you are free to voice your opinions.

Prepared by Kim Calhoun  for South Carolina Young Adult Book Award Nominees 2005
SUBJECTS:     Trujillo Molina, Rafael Leonidas, 1891-1961 -- Fiction.
                        Family life -- Dominican Republic -- Fiction.
                        Revolutions -- Fiction.
                        Dominican -- Republic -- History 1930-1961 -- Fiction.
                        Dominican Republic -- Fiction.
                        Historical fiction.


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