Julia Alvarez

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General Information

Name: Julia Alvarez

Pen Name: None

Genres: Fiction, Non-Fiction, Poetry, History

Born: 1950 in New York City, NY

Website: http://www.juliaalvarez.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorjuliaalvarez

Email: N/A

Illinois Connection

Alvarez was an Assistant Professor in the English Department at the University of Illinois in Urbana from 1985 - 1988. While there, she taught beginning and advanced fiction and poetry workshops as well as courses on women's studies and minority/ethnic literature.

Biographical and Professional Information

Julia Alvarez is an author, a poet, novelist, and essayist. Born in New York, she spent the first ten years of her childhood in the Dominican Republic. A few years after moving back to the United States, Alvarez started attending Abbot Academy; graduating in 1967. From there, she attended Connecticut College from 1967 to 1969 and then transferred to Middlebury College, where she obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree, summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 1971. She then went on to Syracuse University where she received her master's in 1975.

Alvarez then took a position as a writer-in-residence for the Kentucky Arts Commission. She traveled throughout the state visiting elementary schools, high schools, colleges and communities, conducting writing workshops and giving readings. She attributes these years with providing her a deeper understanding of America and helping her realize her passion for teaching. After her work in Kentucky, she extended her educational endeavors to California, Delaware, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Washington, D.C., and Illinois.

Today, Alvarez is regarded as one of the most critically and commercially successful Latina writers of her time. She currently resides in Champlain Valley, Vermont.

Published Works


  • Return to Sender, 2009
  • Saving the World, 2006
  • In the Name of Salomé, 2000
  • ¡YO!, 1997
  • In The Time of the Butterflies, 1994
  • How the García Girls Lost Their Accents, 1991


  • The Woman I Kept to Myself, 2004
  • Homecoming: New and Collected Poems, 1996
  • The Other Side/El Otro Lado, 1995


  • A Wedding in Haiti: The Story of a Friendship, 2012
  • Once Upon A Quinceañera: Coming of Age in the USA, 2007
  • Something to Declare, 1998

For Younger Readers:

  • Where Do They Go?, 2016
  • How Tía Lola Saved the Summer, 2011
  • How Tia Lola Ended Up Starting Over, 2011
  • How Tía Lola Learned to Teach, 2010
  • The Best Gift of All: The Legend of La Vieja Belén, 2008
  • A Gift of Gracias: The legend of Altagracia, 2005
  • Finding Miracles, 2004
  • Before We Were Free, 2002
  • How Tía Lola Came to Visit Stay, 2001
  • A Cafecito Story, 2001
  • The Secret Footprints, 2000

Titles at Your Library

Return to Sender

ISBN: 0375851232
Release Date: 2010-09-14

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Saving the World (Shannon Ravenel Books (Paperback))

ISBN: 1565125584
Release Date: 2007-04-27

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In the Name of Salome

ISBN: 0452282438
Release Date: 2001-06-01

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ISBN: 0452279186
Release Date: 1997-12-01

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In the Time of the Butterflies

ISBN: 1565129768
Release Date: 2010-01-12

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How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents

ISBN: 156512975X
Release Date: 2010-01-12

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The Woman I Kept to Myself

ISBN: 1616200723
Release Date: 2011-04-05

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Homecoming: New and Collected Poems

ISBN: 0452275679
Release Date: 1996-04-01

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The Other Side/El Otro Lado

ISBN: 0452273412
Release Date: 1996-12-01

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A Wedding in Haiti (Shannon Ravenel Books (Paperback))

ISBN: 1616202807
Release Date: 2013-03-19

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Once Upon a Quinceanera: Coming of Age in the USA

ISBN: 0452288304
Release Date: 2008-07-29

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Something to Declare: Essays

ISBN: 161620558X
Release Date: 2014-10-28

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Where Do They Go?

ISBN: 1609806700
Release Date: 2016-11-02

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How Tia Lola Saved the Summer (The Tia Lola Stories)

ISBN: 0375866876
Release Date: 2012-05-08

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How Tia Lola Learned to Teach (The Tia Lola Stories)

ISBN: 0375857923
Release Date: 2011-09-13

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A Gift of Gracias: The Legend of Altagracia

ISBN: 0375824251
Release Date: 2005-10-11

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Before We Were Free (Laurel-Leaf Books Readers Circle)

ISBN: 044023784X
Release Date: 2004-04-13

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How Tia Lola Came to (Visit) Stay (The Tia Lola Stories)

ISBN: 0440418704
Release Date: 2002-08-13

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The Secret Footprints

ISBN: 0440417473
Release Date: 2002-09-10

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Literary Awards

Return to Sender

  • Pura Belpre Award, American Library Association, 2010
  • Americas Award for Children and Young Adult's Literature, National Consortium for Latin American Studies Program, 2010
  • Finalist, YALSA Award, American Library Association

In the Time of Butterflies

  • The Big Read Book Selection, National Endowment for the Arts
  • One of 21 Classics for the 21st Century, New York Libraries

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents

  • PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Literary Award, 1991
  • One of 21 Classics for the 21st Century, New York Libraries
  • The Big Read Book Selection, National Endowment for the Arts, 2010


  • Notable Book, American Library Association, 1998

One Upon a Quinceañera

  • Finalist, National Book Critics Circle Award, 2008

How Tía Lola Came to Visit Stay

  • Little Read Book Selection, Lenoir-Rhyne University, Hickory, North Carolina, 2010

How Tía Lola Learned to Teach

  • Back-to-School Reading list, The Horn Book, 2013
  • Best of the Best List, Chicago Public Library, 2010
  • Winter 2011 Kids' Indie Next List, IndieBound

Before We Were Free

  • Best Book, American Library Association, 2002
  • Pura Belpre Award, American Library Association, 2002

The Best Gift of All

  • Honorable Mention, Américas Award for Children's and Young Adult Literature, 2009

Body of Work:

  • National Medal of Arts, 2014
  • Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts, Vermont, 2011
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for Outstanding Achievement in American Literature, 2009
  • Hispanic Heritage Award in Literature, 2002

Speaking Engagements and Upcoming Appearances

Speaking Engagement Availability: (Yes)

External Links

Julia Alvarez on WorldCat


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