Return to Sender

Return to Sender

by Julia Alvarez

After Tyler's father is injured in a tractor accident, his family is forced to hire migrant Mexican workers to help save their Vermont farm from foreclosure.

Tyler isnt sure what to make of these workers.

And what about the three daughters, particularly Mari, the oldest, who is proud of her Mexican heritage but also increasingly connected her American life.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Realistic Fiction
  • Rating: 3.72
  • Pages: 327
  • Publish Date: January 13th 2009 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
  • Isbn10: 037595838X
  • Isbn13: 9780375958380

What People Think about "Return to Sender"

The family is aware of the status of the illegal way they are in the states but covers for them due to their sad circumstances. You see the whole cast of characters grow as people and try to stay strong through very sad situations. I did enjoy this book, and liked that a good part of the story was told through letters, and diary entries.

Alvarez begins with a young man, her protagonist, Tyler, the younger eleven-year-old son in a family who has survived and thrived by running a dairy farm in Vermont. Extended family also can't adequately help out. Tyler's parents eventually hire undocumented immigrants --- a couple of men --- to assist with the dairy work. What does it mean to be a good neighbor and a friend? What sacrifices are appropriate and necessary of good neighbors and friends? 'But there are good sides even to bad or sad things happening,' my mom reminds me...." This is a coming of age adventure where a boy and a girl have more love and compassion than the men and the women, where a couple of families have greater diplomacy toward each other than the greatest nations on earth do.

Too bad Alvarez missed an opportunity to get these ideas across in a more believable way.

These students are 14/15 years old, but the book's protagonists, Tyler and Mari, are only 11. To illustrate: Tyler loves: astronomy, helping out around his family farm, and America. Mari loves: writing letters, listening to her uncle's songs and jokes, and (after meeting Tyler), astronomy. Problems: her mom's been missing for nearly a year now, her family lives in constant danger of discovery and deportation, and she has the frustrating job of looking after her younger sisters. The children are heart-tuggingly earnest and sincere, their families are loving and flawed (but only in the most heart-tuggingly attractive ways), and even curmudgeonly Old Man Withers is eventually brought around to the cause of justice with the help of a few Mexican-American cherubs and some of granny's apple pie.

The Cruze Family members are Mari, Papa, Tio Felipe, Tio Armando, Luby, Offie and Mama. Most of the book consists of letters that Mari writes to her Mother explaining life on the Vermont farm and expressing desire for the family to be reunited.

The main conflict was concerning migrant workers and the immigration issues. The young characters genuinely struggle through the minefield of these very adult issues.

I appreciated that Tyler was going through a similar struggle trying to reconcile his personal values and the laws of his country.

Seen through the eyes of Mari Cruz and Tyler Paquette children get a personal view of what it is to be without a parent because they were taken away by the authorities.

This book tells the story of two families.