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'Endorsement to the power of art' - Fans flock to see Dominican-American author

by Terry Date, Eagle Tribune

It was a memorable night, steeped in butterflies and books.

Celebrated Dominican-American author Julia Alvarez told admirers that the single beat of a butterfly's wings, or a single person doing what he or she loves to do, has the power to change the world. 

Three hundred fifty-seven children, teens and adults filled Lawrence Public Library's Sargent Auditorium on Thursday, some 80 percent of them women and girls.

They were students and teachers, book club members, and mothers and daughters and grandmothers.

They were sitting and standing. At the very front, dozens of younger students sprawled on the gray carpet. They leaned forward clutching their knees, books by Alvarez and writing journals.

Ballet dancer Lunara Devers, dressed in white, welcomed Alvarez.

Devers performed to Dominican composer Julio Alberto Hernandez's song "Dulces Recuerdos."

In the end, the dancer bowed to an applauding Alvarez.

This was the second visit to Lawrence for the author of "In the Time of Butterflies," first published 25 years ago.

The historical novel tells a story that most Dominican-Americans know from an early age.

"You don't even know when you knew because you always knew," event organizer Analuz Garcia of Northern Essex Community College said in an interview.

Garcia encountered Alvarez's fiction, "How the Garcia Girls Lost their Accents," as a sophomore at St. John's University in New York City. 

"This was the first book that I ever picked up that was by a Dominican-American writer," Garcia said. "I identified with it. I was validated. Somebody said I existed."


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