Before We Were Free

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 Tío 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.

Pura Belpre Medal Book Author

Related: Caribbean, Intermediate (ages 9-14), Realistic Fiction

3 thoughts on “Before We Were Free

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Anita de la Torre is a twelve-year-old girl growing up in the Dominican Republic in 1960. She has grown up living on a compound with all of her relatives. Recently, many of her relatives, including her cousins, have emigrated to the United States to escape the dictator, El Jefe, and the secret police. Anita and her family remain in the Dominican Republic where she deals with scary events and trying to escape to freedom in the United States.

    Before we were Free introduces readers to the harsh realities of life under a dictatorship. The political scene in the Dominican Republic at this time is very different from America. In addition, this story relates very closely to the experiences of the author’s childhood. It is clear that Alvarez has an insider’s perspective about the Trujillo regime and the events that took place during this time. Though, she and her family left for New York City to escape, this book tells the story of what life would have been like had she and her family remained in the Dominican Republic for a longer period of time.

  2. Patricia Castrodad says:

    The book Before we were free, highlights the story of Puerto Rico’s neighboor island, Dominican republic during dictatorship. Although I could focus on the theme of dictarship form a young child’s perspective; what caught my attention was the”nostalgia” that evokes when family memebers and ourselves have to flee to other coutries, as in the case of this book, the USA. Also, what Bilingual scholars have called “va y ven” (back and forth) movement between two worlds. There are a couple of books such as; An Island like you: Stories from the Barrio, Angel’s Grace (New York-Trinidad Tobago), Tonight by the sea (Haiti), The tangerine the (Jamaica-América) among others that would be a great text to think deeply about the “va y ven” (back and forth) movement between two worlds from different Caribbean perspectives.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *