Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information


Pen Name: None

Genre: C:ADULT C:YOUNG ADULT Fiction History Non-Fiction Poetry

Born: 1950 in New York City, NY


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 Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library


-- """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


-- """¡YO!"""

-- *Notable Book, American Library Association, 1998


-- """One Upon a Quinceañera"""

-- *Finalist, National Book Critics Circle Award, 2008


-- """How Tia Lola Came to Visit Stay"""

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


-- """How Tia 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, Americas Award for Children's and Young Adult Literature, 2009


-- """Afterlife"""

-- *Most-Anticipated Book of the Year - O, The Oprah Magazine, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Vogue, Bustle, BuzzFeed, Ms. Magazine, The Millions, The Huffington Post, PopSugar, The Lily, Goodreads, Library Journal, LitHub, and Electric Literature, 2020

-- *Must Read Books List, O, The Oprah Magazine, The New York Times, Vogue, Bustle, BuzzFeed, The Millions, The Lily, Goodreads, Library Journal, LitHub, and Electric Journal, 2020

-- *24 New Books We Couldn't Put Down, BuzzFeed, 2020

-- *Starred Review, Shelf Awareness, 2020

-- *Starred Review, Library Journal, 2020

-- *Starred Review, Kirkus, 2020

-- *Starred Review, Booklist, 2020

-- *Starred Review, BookPage, 2020

-- *Spring 2020’s Best Books, The Philadelphia Inquirer