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Word Count: 1,572
In the opening chapter of Julia Alvarezs second novel a woman receives a caller in the countryside of the Dominican Republic The visit is an awkward obligation a meeting between a Dominican survivor of the Trujillo regime and a younger Dominican-American woman who wants to know more about Las Mariposas the Butterflies as they are known in the history of the country The visitor has come to research the famous Mirabel sisters Patria Minerva and Mara Teresa These three young woman were killed in 1960 victims of Trujillos oppression and an accident that was actually their brutal murder at the hands of the dictators thugs Three decades later it is the surviving Mirabel sister Dede who dutifully but wearily answers questions that probe her personal loss It is Dede who begins the story once again This is how in 1994 the remaining sister approaches another round of bearing witnessShe Dede bends to her special beauty the butterfly orchid she smuggled back from Hawaii two years ago For three years in a row Dede has won a trip the prize for making the most sales of anyone in her company Her niece Minou has noted more than once the irony of Dedes new profession actually embarked upon a decade ago after her divorce She is the companys top life insurance salesperson Everyone wants to buy a policy from the woman who just missed being killed along with her three sisters Can she help itThe slamming of the car door startles Dede When she calms herself she finds she has snipped her prize butterfly orchid She picks up the fallen blossom and trims the stem wincing Perhaps this is the only way to grieve the big things in snippets pinches little sips of sadnessBut really this woman should shut car doors with less violence Spare an aging womans nerves And Im not the only one Dede thinks Any Dominican of a certain generation would have jumped at
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