In the Time of the Butterflies follows four young women as we observe how they deal with the everyday difficulties of growing up set against the backdrop of the Trujillo dictatorship in 1940s Dominican Republic.
Shifting the perspective between the four Mirabal sisters, Alvarez etches deeper insight into each of these very different girls from one chapter to the next. While Patria, Dede, Minerva and Maria Theresa all provide unique voices that range from the timid to the revolutionary bold, they all share the same strength that binds them as they march through their own personal difficulties and joint struggles as a whole.
The stories of each girl intertwines with one another, while also jumping ahead to the 1990s where Dede acts as the family historian, sitting down with an interviewer to explain what exactly happened to her family all those years ago.
Overall this is a heartbreaking tale where we see not only the loss of innocence that all adolescents go through as they become adults, but at the same time we witness their loss of innocence in terms of their views of the country, and more specifically its leader. While the Mirabal girls in this historical fiction suffer the ultimate price, it could be said that through each of the sisters’ points of view we’re given an archetypical portrait of many women going through the same adversities, not just in the first half of the 20th century Caribbean, but even around the world today.