Book Review – Before We Were Free by Julia Alvarez

Good Morning! Here’s the Monday Morning Blog!

Happy Labor Day! How did things go last week? Get a chance to check in with that teen/young adult in your life? I watched my two young adults build a storage bench for our three-season porch together. It was interesting to see their different approaches to the project, but working together, they were able to get the job done.

This month I will be focusing on the theme of the benefits of journaling. What is journaling you may ask? Well, it is a form of writing that helps us explore and express what we are thinking or feeling in a written format. We can journal on anything from a single piece of paper to an online journaling program. When I was a kid, I wrote in diaries that my parents gave me for Christmas.

Do you know what an epistolary novel is? It is a novel written as a series of documents or entries. In the book I chose to review, I also featured as a What ya reading Wednesday post last month. It is about a twelve-year-old girl, growing up during a challenging time in her country, who tells us the story and records what her family is going through in her diary.


Selma’s Book Review

Book Title

Before We Were Free


Julia Alvarez

Type of Book

Young Adult Historical Fiction

Author Background

Julia Alvarez is an author of adult and young reader books. She was born in New York but relocated to the Dominican Republic (her parents’ homeland) after her birth. She has won awards for her books, including the National Medal of Arts from President Obama.

Summary of the book

This coming-of-age novel is the story of Anita de la Torre who is a girl growing up in the Dominican Republic in 1960. As many of her relatives are emigrating to the United States to escape the rule of the dictator Rafael Trujillo. Anita shares her thoughts about what her family was going through, growing up, and her own desire to be free in a diary that she received for Christmas.

Reaction to the book

After reading a little about the author, I learned this book was written about her own experience as a young girl. I really liked the book and engaged with Anita’s character as she told the story from her point of view. I related to her sharing her feelings in a diary and learned a little about what things were like in the Dominican Republic in the 1960s. I would recommend this book for middle grade or young adult readers.

Link to the author

If you want to learn more about the author, here is a link to her website Julia Alavarez

Link to the book

If you want to purchase a copy of Before We Were Free,, here is a link to Amazon – Before We Were Free. Or you can pick it up from one your local bookstore or shop and have the purchase credited to them.



The Way Series is a good choice for back to school

Both books in The Way Series focus on high school and the challenges teens can face. The Hard Way focuses on peer pressure and Shawn’s Way focuses on bullying. Looking for a couple of reads for your teens? Check these two options out on the books tab of my website, Selma P. Verde – Books


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Have a great week!



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