"Before We Were Free" by Julia Alvarez is about a girl whose family becomes involved in a plot to overthrow their country's dictator. After her father is kidnapped, the girl and her mother are forced into hiding, and the fate of the rest of her family remains uncertain.
"Before We Were Free" opens with a girl named Anita living in her family's compound in the Dominican Republic. As a child, Anita never understood her family's political affiliations or their connections to organizations involved with overthrowing the country's dictator. She becomes all too aware of her family's actions when family members start fleeing the country and going to live in the United States. Then some family members disappear altogether with no warning and no indication of where they have gone.
Sensing something is wrong, Anita listens in on a conversation between her mother and father, and learns that her family is involved in an assassination plot to kill Trujillo, the dictator of the Dominican Republic. Things take a turn for the worse when Anita's father is kidnapped and held hostage by Trujillo. With their safety compromised, Anita and her mother must flee their home and their country.
This entire story is told from Anita's point of view. Through her observations, the reader is able to see the full impact of the dictator's actions. Throughout the story, Anita struggles to justify her family's involvement in the assassination plot, yet she also understands she and others must find a way to fight back.