Common Sense Media says

Moving historical fiction about life under a dictatorship.

Users say

(out of 16 reviews)
age 13+
Review this title!
Teen, 16 years old Written byhope4me December 3, 2008

this is more for girls

she was pretty brave to make decisions on her on like that, most girls would be intrested in this if they have a lack of courage in decision making.
Teen, 14 years old Written bySophie99 January 16, 2011
I love this book But at the end it wasn't that intersting!!!
What other families should know
Great role models
Kid, 12 years old November 8, 2012

Great Historical Fiction!

What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Educator Written byKeri B. September 17, 2016
It was a great novel. Alvarez does a phenomenal job at covering the political unrest and tension of the Dominican Republic under Trujillo.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Teen, 15 years old Written byjustinbeiber16 February 28, 2011

e.g. Perfect for ten and older

i love the story its a good book to read it can teach u lot
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Parent Written bykermitr October 2, 2015

Interesting theme but some inappropriate text

My 12 y.o. daughter was assigned this book in 7th grade English. While she generally appreciated the theme, she was also very upset at times by what she described as the "dark" parts, which included the deep suffering of the main characters, and by her retelling, fairly graphic torture scenes. She was very uneasy about finishing the book, and had it not been a school assignment, likely would have stopped reading.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Adult Written byzowaysiverbeg March 10, 2015

kind of inappropriate

Some parts of the book refer to "developing", which might not be appropriate for smaller children, so I recommend waiting until 6th or 7th grade to read this book. Also, there are references to the dictatorship during the time the book takes place in the Dominican Republic. Some are ok references but some are more violent and about assassinating. Also, some of the vocabulary is hard to understand for kids that are under 12 or 13 years old.
What other families should know
Educational value
Too much violence
Teen, 16 years old Written bykittymickey13 November 7, 2010

12 And older

LOVE IT SO MUCH I THINK THAT 13 YEARS OLD AND UP SHOULD READ THIS BOOK BECAUSE THEY WILL UNDER STAY IT BATTER IT DEALS WITH PERSONAL EXPERICANCE
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 14 years old Written byabieraamy September 1, 2010
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great role models
Teen, 15 years old Written byGCluver123456789 April 9, 2008
Teen, 13 years old Written byNaja B. November 14, 2012

Naja Review

This book is definetly not for anyone 11 or under. Not saying it has violence,profanity,etc (maybe a little) but its just that 12 year old and up will understand it more
Teen, 15 years old Written byJustreviews June 11, 2012

It's not so bad.........

“Before We Were Free” is a book about the struggles of a young girl, Anita de la Torre, to be “free”.Anita was a twelve year old girl living it up in the Dominican Republic. She had everyday issues such as stubborn teachers and even a bratty older sister, some would call her life normal. At least that was until her family members began fleeing to the U.S. faster than she could imagine. From then on, everything began to change for Anita. Especially the way she saw her on dictator, Trujillo, Anita must learn to concur her fears and be strong in order to truly be free.This book really talks about political struggles and the fight to be free. This book is captivating and realistic. Though there are parts of this book I do not agree with.Readers will enjoy this book because of its basis of reality and much more.Julia Alvarez is a great writer and knows about the real life everyday struggles, which makes the book very interesting.
What other families should know
Educational value
Teen, 13 years old Written byxxjeff17991 July 7, 2011

before we were free a great book

I had to read 2 books for my high school project.This was one of the books I chose.It was a great book because it is educational and it shows what other contries are like. Before we were free is about many horrible things happening in Anita's country. Such as the SIM police searching everyone's house, El Jefe which is a lecherous man, and Anita's relatives are missing. i think it would be for people aged 12 and higher.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 16 years old Written bygtrackgirl2 September 13, 2010

good for high school kids

i loved this book had to read it for school very good book
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 15 years old Written bySmil3y November 21, 2009
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Kid, 11 years old February 24, 2009

Before we were free is over-hyped but definitely a great book

I had to read seven books for my reading log due every few months so I chose this one. Well, it was a great thing I did. Before we were free is about many horrible things happening in Anita's country. Such as the SIM police searching everyone's house, El Jefe which is a lecherous man, and Anita's relatives are missing. While the book doesn't have bad content, some of it is very mature. For sexual content, it is very iffy. Not explicit and no discussions of sex but there are references of a girls' breasts being too small, a girl getting her period, and El Jefe is a lecherous man. Profanity, is also iffy. There is some profanity such as one use of S.O.B. (printed just like that) and bastard. For violence, it's not an issue. Some topics deal with violence but they don't go that much in depth. I highly recommend the book for children 12 and up. There is some mature content that pushes the kid borderline, but the book isn't too explicit either.