Alvarez, her parents, and her three sisters made their home in a small apartment in New York City.
Despite the racism of some classmates, Alvarez enjoyed learning English and credits the experience with helping her become a writer.
Their story haunted Alvarez, whose own family had fled the Dominican Republic just three months earlier in fear that her father's participation in the resistance would make him a target of Trujillo.
The novel is both an homage to the bravery and sacrifice of the Mirabal family and a literary work of high grace.
[this novel is] as lovely as a butterfly at rest, and as moving as one in flight” ( (1994) is a work of historical fiction based on the lives of the four Mirabal sisters, who participated in underground efforts to topple Rafael Leonidas Trujillo's three-decade-long dictatorial regime in the Dominican Republic.
Three of the sisters—Patria, Minerva, and María Teresa—were slain on Trujillo's orders on November 25, 1960.She published her first novel at the age of 41 and has since gone on to receive an F.Scott Fitzgerald Award for Outstanding Achievement in American Literature, a Vermont Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, and a National Medal of Arts.In the body of the book, narrated in turn by each of the four sisters, Alvarez brings them to life, skillfully telling the story of four young girls who come of age wanting the same things most young women hope for: love, family, and freedom.Each of the sisters chooses to join the revolution in her own time—even Dedé, the one who lives to tell the tale and admits she only got involved "when it was already too late." Scattered through the girls' stories are glimpses of a nation under siege, where the simplest liberties have been stripped away.She had been teaching at Middlebury College for three years when her first novel, (1991), was published.The book received widespread acclaim and enabled her to pursue writing as a full-time career. Alvarez lives with her husband, Bill Eichner, in Vermont.Fearing for their safety, the Alvarezes fled back to the United States.Just three months later, the Mirabal sisters—founders of the underground—were murdered.The first chapter begins in 1994 when a young Dominican-American writer, a visits the surviving sister, Dedé Mirabal, at the sisters' childhood home, which has been turned into a museum.Exhausted by the steady stream of pilgrims who have visited her in the thirty-four years since her sisters' deaths, Dedé reluctantly begins to tell the story of a family entwined with the political turmoil of their country.