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Dancing with Butterflies

Dancing with Butterflies

A Novel

  • reading group guide
Dancing with Butterflies uses the alternating voices of four very different women whose lives interconnect through a common passion for their Mexican heritage and a dance company called Alegría. Yesenia, who founded Alegría with her husband, Eduardo, sabotages her own efforts to remain a vital, vibrant woman when she travels back and forth across the Mexican border for cheap plastic surgery. Elena, grief stricken by the death of her only child and the end of her marriage, finds herself falling dangerously in love with one of her underage students. Elena's sister, Adriana, wears the wounds of abandonment by a dys-functional family and becomes unable to discern love from abuse. Soledad, the sweet-tempered illegal immigrant who designs costumes for Alegría, finds herself stuck back in Mexico, where she returns to see her dying grandmother.

Reyna Grande has brought these fictional characters so convincingly to life that readers will imagine they know them.
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  • Washington Square Press | 
  • 416 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781439109069 | 
  • October 2009
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Dancing with Butterflies includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Reyna Grande. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Introduction

Folklórico, traditional Mexican dance, bring together four women in Los Angeles. Yesenia and her husband lead Alegría, a successful Folklórico dance group, but Yesenia’s arthritic knee keeps her offstage and restless in her marriage. Sisters Elena and Adriana grew up dancing in Alegría, but bitterness over their difficult childhood has soured their relationship. And Soledad, the group’s costume designer, is determined to open a dress shop in L.A., even though she is in the U.S. illegally.

Tragedy strikes each of these four women, leaving Alegría’s future in doubt. Yesenia tries to reshape her body through cut-rate plastic surgery in Tijuana. Elena’s new marriage breaks up after her baby is stillborn, and instead of dancing through her grief, she lusts after an underage dancer. Adriana, missing her abusive father, chases oblivion through a series of dangerous relationships. Soledad sacrifices her career dreams to bid goodbye to her ailing grandmother, but, tr see more

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About the Author

Reyna Grande
Photograph by Imran Chaudhry

Reyna Grande

Reyna Grande is an award-winning novelist and memoirist. She has received an American Book Award, the El Premio Aztlán Literary Award, and the Latino Book Award. Her second novel, Dancing with Butterflies, received critical acclaim. In 2012, she was a finalist for the prestigious National Book Critics Circle Awards for her memoir The Distance Between Us. Her works have been published internationally in countries such as Norway and South Korea.

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