Before We Were Free

by Meia Geddes

In the short historical novel Before We Were Free, Julia Alvarez writes of the Dominican Republic in the 1960s, a tumultuous time of government secret police, the dictator el Trujillo, brave rebels fighting for justice, family, immigration, and adolescence – all from a young girl’s perspective. A good, informative, moving read that made me cry and think. It made me think of the immigrant experience in America, of what countries “resort” to (embargoes, invasions) to “help” other countries, and how (if?) it is possible to attain peace without such measures. There is always a short and/or long-term cost, to being a bystander, indirectly interfering, and directly interfering.

Here is a quote from Julia Alvarez in the “About the Author” section:

“I believe stories have this power–they enter us, they transport us, they change things inside of us invisibly, so minutely, that sometimes we’re not even aware that we come out of a great book as a different person from the person we were when we began reading it.”

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