Return to SenderTitle: Return to Sender
Author: Julia Alvarez
ISBN: 9780375858383
Pages: 325 pages
Publisher/Date: Alfred A. Knopf, c2009.

“Son, I know you’re wondering why we asked you not to go telling folks that we got some Mexicans working for us.”
Tyler sits down, feeling relieved. Finally, the big mystery will be explained to him.
But his mother is shooting glances at his father. “We haven’t yet decided how we’re going to approach this,” she reminds him.
“I think the boy should know. What if there’s a raid or something?”
A raid!
“Are we doing something wrong?” Tyler is shocked. (55-56)

Tyler has had a horrible summer, with his beloved Grandfather dying and his father suffering a horrible tractor accident. After coming back from visiting relatives in Boston, Tyler finds out that his father has hired a family of illegal immigrants to help out on their Vermont dairy farm. Tyler is conflicted on what his parents are doing, especially when he ends up with one of the three girls in his class at school. Between a missing mother, an arrested uncle, and a raid on the farm, the girls’ lives are anything but easy.

The author comments that she wrote this story due to the increasing publicity and political struggles facing Mexican immigrant families. This is a good introduction to the many facets and sides of the debate, concerning both the farmers and the immigrants. However, I didn’t really appreciate the format. The writing feels stilted though, with Mari’s point of view being presented in diary and letters and Tyler’s point of view being presented through third person narration. The feelings are there though, and would definitely spark a lot of use and discussion in migrant and minority communities. The disconnect between generations is also discussed, with the younger girls disagreeing with their parents and not wanting to return to Mexico or speak Spanish, while the eldest Mari is torn between the two cultures.

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