Brookdale students and faculty came together at the Center for Hololcaust, Human Rights and Genocide Education (Chhange) on Nov. 4 to engage in a college-wide discussion of the novel “In the Time of Butterflies” by Julia Alvarez.
The novel, which serves as the centerpiece for this year’s Big Read initiative, has been adopted by a wide range of Brookdale professors and assigned to students in more than a dozen different classes this semester. From English to history to journalism, faculty and students have found a lot to discuss in Alvarez’s 1994 novel, which is set in the Domincan Republic during the brutal dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo.
Faculty from each of those departments joined Chhange Executive Director Dale Daniels, members of the Brookdale Writing Center, student development specialists and a number of students during college hour to discuss the book’s enduring themes and historical relevance.
From human rights and gender roles to identity, family and the power of love, the discussion touched on many of the central issues raised in Alvarez’s book, which follows the four Mirabal sisters as they attempt to stand up to the Trujillo regime. Three of the sisters were assassinated for their actions in 1960.
“I was never really a big reader,” said first-year student Jake McCourt, who read “In the Time of Butterflies” as part of Professor Marcia Krefetz-Levine’s English class. “But I enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought I would. It’s a powerful story.”
The Big Read 2014, hosted by Chhange in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, is an annual event designed to revitalize the role of reading in popular culture. All Monmouth County residents are encouraged to read the same book and attend local book discussions, art exhibits and other Big Read events to join in a community-wide conversation.
Upcoming Big Read events include a dramatic reading from the novel at the Two River Theater in Red Bank on Nov. 17, a lecture on protest art at the Monmouth County Library Headquarters and a keynote address by Julia Alvarez in Lincroft on Nov. 25.
Some events require preregistration. Visit the Chhange website for more information.
Click here for more photos of the book discussion.