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Publisher's Summary

Anita de la Torre never questioned her freedom living in the Dominican Republic. But by her 12th birthday in 1960, most of her relatives have emigrated to the United States, her Tio Toni has disappeared without a trace, and the government's secret police terrorize her remaining family because of their suspected opposition of el Trujillo's dictatorship.

Using the strength and courage of her family, Anita must overcome her fears and fly to freedom, leaving all that she once knew behind.

From renowned author Julia Alvarez comes an unforgettable story about adolescence, perseverance, and one girl's struggle to be free. Before We Were Free won Julia Alvarez the 2005 Pura Belpre Medal, which is awarded to a Latino/Latina writer whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding book for children.

©2002 Julia Alvarez (P)2004 Random House, Inc. Listening Library, an imprint of Random House Audio Publishing Group

Critic Reviews

"Alvarez proves as gifted at writing for adolescents as she is for adults. Here she brings her warmth, sensitivity and eye for detail to a volatile setting, the Dominican Republic of her childhood, during the 1960-1961 attempt to overthrow Trujillo's dictatorship....A stirring work of art." (Publishers Weekly)
"An involving book for adults as well as young adults....[Julia Alvarez] reads with emotion and clarity, and her warm Latin accent is a pleasure to listen to." (AudioFile)

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  • Lily
  • United States
  • 01-08-18

Talented Author Left Much To Be Expected Narrating

Bad News First
Superb story conflicted with not-so-great narrating: characters were not made as lively as they could've, jokes didn't hit as well they should've, many a tender scene was made awkward by monotonous, almost forcibly hushed tone, inappropriate inflections disrupt a truly captivating buildup.

As far as the story itself, the line between historical context and fiction is very efficiently maneuvered. Interesting, well-developed characters endear themselves to the reader as events unfold throughout the story. Events do not simply happen around the characters; the reader is made aware very early on that no one is invincible in this world and that the reign in the character's country is no exception. This gives the reader hope: anything can happen. This also makes the reader consider the fate of every character: anything can happen.

As with any story, there are flaws to be found. This particular story possesses very few.
The reader is left with many questions at the end of the story; many of which can be answered with a great deal of speculation but are ultimately still just speculation.

Narration strengths would include the distinguishing of voices of various characters (which makes it much easier to follow conversations between multiple characters) and an unhurried pace that compliments many image-heavy scenes, allowing the listener to soak in every detail and even add to the scene themselves, in their mind's eye.

In summation: Ms. Alvarez created a beautiful story about war, the avoidance of such, and the key players involved in any conflict, all from the perspective of a child growing into a young woman.
However, this particular medium (audiobook) of communication of aforementioned beautiful story leaves much to be desired and/or imagined, in this case, at least.

Many thanks to anyone who took the time to read this lengthy backhanded compliment.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful