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Return to Sender

3.63 of 5 stars 3.63  ·  rating details  ·  1,428 ratings  ·  416 reviews
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 isn’t sure what to make of these workers. Are they undocumented? And what about the three daughters, particularly Mari, the oldest, who is proud of her Mexican heritage but also increasingly connected her Americ ...more
Hardcover, 327 pages
Published January 13th 2009 by Knopf Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2009)
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Return to Sender by Julia AlvarezTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeLegend by Marie LuThe Inn At Heron's Bay by W.M.J. KreucherThe Underneath by Kathi Appelt
NC Battle of the Books 13/14
1st out of 28 books — 5 voters
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Américas Award Books
7th out of 174 books — 6 voters

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Community Reviews

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I had high hopes for this books since Julia Alvarez is such a wonderful writer. But I was sorely disappointed and about 3/4 of the way through I just gave up. The story is told in two voices, one omniscient with the focus on Tyler and one in first person by Mari. Both characters are 11, but other than glimpses of the bullies at school, we don't see very much that ties them to that age group. Mari tells her story in the form of "letters" that are so stilted and overwritten that it strained credib ...more
Julia Alvarez knows how to characterize the blur in the line between right and wrong. She knows how to make it clear that reality and morality are continuums and not dichotomies of this or that, up or down, or yes or no. There are no absolutes. (Now, there's an oxymoron.) We have a long way to go.

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. The family's farming heritage is at
This book disappointed me--I would give it 2.5 if I could. Julia Alvarez is a brilliant novelist who should probably stick to writing for adults, because her young adult "tone" comes off as forced, oversimplified, and too young. This is a compelling and timely story bogged down by an awkward format, too many exclamation points, and a style that isn't true to Alvarez's lyrical talents.
Arianne "Tex" Thompson
I read this book along with my tutoring student: it was her going-in-to-10th-grade summer reading assignment. I'll try to include both our perspectives, as she's certainly much closer to the intended audience than I am.

I tell you what, though: I'm surprised by the school's choice. These students are 14/15 years old, but the book's protagonists, Tyler and Mari, are only 11. I don't believe that the old "kids only want to read about older kids" saw is universally true (of the millions of 9th grade
Oh My!!!!What a lovely, heartwarming book. Tyler's(12 years old) father is injured in a tractor accident and in order for the family to continue working the family farmland, they hire migrant workers from North Carolina. The Cruze Family members are Mari, Papa, Tio Felipe, Tio Armando, Luby, Offie and Mama. Mama was left behind and Luby and Offie are the only members of the family that were born in the United States. Most of the book consists of letters that Mari writes to her Mother explaining ...more
Grade Level: 5-7th grade
Main Characters: Tyler and Mari
Setting: Vermont
POV: third person chapters about Tyler and first person diary entries/letters from Mari

This is a story about undocumented migrant workers told in two different perspectives. Tyler is an 11-year old boy whose father was injured and are at risk for losing their dairy-farm in Vermont. In order to keep their farm, they hire undocumented migrant workers to help keep it running. Mari is the same age as Tyler, and her family

Alvarez, J. (2009). Return to sender. New York, NY: Knopf Books for Young Readers. 336 p. 978-0375858383. $16.99. Gr. 4-7.

Tyler Paquette’s family farm is in trouble after the death of his grandfather and an injury to his father. When his family hires some migrant workers from Mexico, Tyler is torn between saving the place he loves and upholding the law of the country he loves. As Tyler wrestles with his feelings, he begins to develop a friendship with a daughter of one of the workers, named Mari
Abby Johnson
Everything's changing on Tyler's family's Vermont dairy farm. After his father had the accident and Tyler's older brother went to college, Tyler's dad had to hire workers from Mexico to help with the milking. At first Tyler is appalled their their family would hire illegal aliens, but once he gets to know Mari, daughter of one of the workers, he begins to change his mind. Mari writes letters to her mother who has been missing for months and might be dead.

The alternating viewpoints give a well-r
the best part of this book was learning that this punctuation mark: ?! is called an interrobang. who knew?!
Rachel Lizan
Description: Tyler makes an unexpected friend and must evaluate right from wrong as his family decides to hire a family of Mexican immigrants to save their farm.

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Intended Audience: 4th - 7th Grade

Curriculum Connection: I think that this would be an excellent book to read when learning about protagonists and antagonists in literature. Many books have an obvious good versus evil theme while this story is not so clear. This is the same issue and contradiction that Tyler face
The Cruz family just wants to earn a living in America. They move from North Carolina to Vermont to find a better place to live and work. There is one major problem. They are illegal aliens in the United States. The Cruz family moves into a trailer near the Paquette family and works on their dairy farm. Things seem to be going ok but the Cruz family is always on the look out for immigration. We learn that the Cruz family is searching for the childrens mother and that she has been held captive by ...more
Return to Sender is the story of two friends, Mari and Tyler, and their families who seem to have nothing in common. Mari's family has come to American to earn a living and Tyler's family is depending on Mari's family to keep their beloved farm up and running. Although I did enjoy reading this book, I thought Mari's character seemed too sophisticated for a sixth grade girl, especially in her writing style to her mother. Like other reviews I have read, I loved the teacher Mr. B.

Some parts of the
Debbie Gillespie
Citation: Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez (Yearling 2009)

1.Genre: Junior Chapter Book/ Contemporary Realism

2. Summary: Return to Sender is a story about two families, one farming family and one migrant worker family, struggling to survive and stay together through the many challenges each family faces and how true friendship can transcend their vast differences.

a. The author uses two different styles of writing to differentiate between the two main characters, Tyler, a Vermont farm
Sara Check
1.This is a Junior Book, Contemporary Realism.

2.Tyler and his family are in jeopardy of losing their farm and the only way to save it is to hire illegal Mexican workers. This story of friendships, morals and human decency ties these two families forever.

3.A. Julia Alvarez has created a plethora cast of fascinating characters in a real life setting where anything seems possible under a blanket of stars. The setting of an innocent dairy farm in the state of Vermont and the very controversial subje
Disappointing--definitely not one of her best. It's way too long for the middle grade audience (actually, it's just too long, but especially for middle grade), repetitious, occasionally preachy. I see several comments mentioning it as a "teen" book, but it's really not--the main characters are eleven (so no, it isn't that they just seem young), and the language is pretty simple, especially the author's notes in the back. Half the book is told in letters, and you see the standard problems--Mari a ...more
A great story about undocumented Mexican workers told from two sides: the daughter of a Mexican worker and the son of family that employs the undocumented workers. I really got into the story and think Alvarez did a great job showing both sides to a controversial topic. I was quite disappointed in how she went about telling both sides though. The son's story was told in third person while the daughter's story was told through letters. Every time I came back to the son's story it took me several ...more
An okay read for me. The story is about illegal workers from Mexico working at a dairy farm in Vermont. The Vermont family befriends the workers (a father and 3 daughters--the mother is "missing") and the boy and the oldest daughter strike up a friendship. The story is told from alternating points-of-view, and the girl's accounts are told via letters. My one peev is that the girl is only 11 years old but writes like someone much older. I also don't care for this style of story-telling because it ...more
Hattie Rose
Return to Sender is a book that deserves three stars. With a heartwarming family story, and it's edgy tone, some chapters can leave you at the edge of your seat. Tyler & Mari are partners in crime on the Paquette farm. Innocent during the day, helping the farmhands, and stargazing by night. The only flaw with this book is that it can drag on and on. It feels like forever before the next chapter. No offense to the author, however, that is why I give this book a three star review.
This novel is suitable for my 7th-grade granddaughter, and it presents the dilemma of illegal immigration in a clear, compassionate way. I can identify with almost every incident in the story, as I have known the situations first-hand and was also a Spanish teacher for many years, now serving as an interpreter. I kept saying to myself, "She has it exactly right," including the American-born and Mexican-born siblings and their feelings about being caught between two worlds. I hope her book will l ...more
Tameika King
Dec 07, 2013 Tameika King added it
Shelves: libs-642
After Tyler’s father is injured, his family needs additional help with their farm, so they hire illegal immigrants. Tyler is torn between his views of right and wrong, and his desire to keep the family farm. I really liked this book. I loved watching the friendship between Tyler and Mari blossom. Tyler battled with his morals throughout the book but I think in the end he made great choices. This book would be good for upper elementary and middle school during a lesson on immigration. It's also a ...more
I was glad I was finally able to read this book, as I have been interested in it for a while. Even though I liked it, I prefer a different book by Julia Alvarez - Before We Were Free. Aspects I liked included the comparisons between Mexico and the United States and the cultural portrayals. I liked how Mari was a strong character with courage and compassion and the friendship she developed with Tyler. I was confused at times who was narrating the story, as it would jump between Tyler and Mari and ...more

After Tyler’s father is injured in a farming accident, the family has to hire migrant Mexican workers to save the farm. 12-year-old Tyler meets and becomes friends with the oldest daughter, who is his age. When Tyler finds out that many family members are illegal immigrants and that their mother has been missing for many months, he struggles with this issue and his newfound friendship. The blossoming of Tyler’s and Mari’s friendship and their discovery of commonalities and appreciation of their
Apr 13, 2014 Ekassel added it
Shelves: 642-shelf
Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez

1. Latin American / Realistic Fiction – Older Elementary

2. In this story, the worlds of two young children collide. Mari's family was forced to leave Mexico in search of work when she was very small, and now she, and her two American-born sisters find themselves on a farm in Vermont with their father and uncles. Tyler's family has owned this farm for years and never accepted help, however with death and injury they need Mari's family to save them. Even though the
A great book for anyone, doesn't matter what age. To help see what people go through to earn a right to live and make a living. The sacrifice is clear in Return to Sender, and it is told easy enough through her words to understand what is going on from a few different viewpoints. I always enjoy Alvarez writing and her YA novels are no different in quality as her other fiction.
Madison :D
Summary: Return to Sender is about Mari and Tyler. Mari and her dad snuck into America to work on Tyler's dad's farm in Vermont. When Mari was younger, her mother left to visit their dying grandma. Her mother didn't return though and after a year, they all thought that maybe she had died on the trip home. Tyler and Mari went to school together and liked to look out of Tyler's telescope together. Mari and her family are very worried about police finding them and taking them back to Mexico though ...more
Carolyn Kreuger
A powerful book for young and adults alike that takes the first hand perspective of two 11 year olds -- one a Vermont farm boy and the other an undocumented immigrant -- and raises complex questions about what it means to be a good citizen and a good human(e) being, who the US and democracy "belong" to, and how personal relationships can break down stereotypes of the "other".
Anne Marie
The topic of the book and the way the story is related - through narrative prose and letters, and also through insightful points of view - were really interesting, but ultimately completely overshadowed by how heavy-handed, preachy, and condescending the book is. There is also very little description of any characters or settings - all emphasis is on dialogue and "lesson-teaching."
Annie Bastian
This book was a 2010 winner the Pura Belpre and Americas Award. This book is focused toward students 10 and up. I think students who have a heavy Latino population in their classroom may benefit from reading this book and seeing one side of the story. However, it is very one sided and there is little offered in the book related to the opposition of illegal immigration.
Cassie Pettit
Julia Alvarez is not very happy with all the undocumented Mexican works. There is a family in this book that is losing their farm because of the accident that his father went through and can no longer run the farm because a tractor rolled over on him and was very lucky not to die because of his youngest son Tyler who is saw it and called 911 right away he is still trying to walk and is physical therapy. Tyler's older brother is going to college and does not want to take over the family farm, it ...more
Return to Sender, a book written by Julia Alvarez, is an award winning novel that talks about illegal immigration and the difficulties between family, friendship, and law. A family owns a farm, but they need more help to keep it up so they hire Mexicans, but they are illegal immigrants. Both families face troubles and help each other.
There are many things I like about this book. The cover is very artsy, and the title attracts attention. On the back cover is the lyrics of a Mexican song “La Golon
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Julia Álvarez was born in New York City. Her parents moved back to the Dominican Republic when Álvarez was 3 months old and she was raised there until she was 10, when the family moved back to NYC.

She is currently writer-in-residence at Middlebury College and the owner of a coffee farm named Alta Gracia, near Jarabacoa in the mountains of the Dominican Republic. The farm hosts a school to teach l
More about Julia Alvarez...
In the Time of the Butterflies How the García Girls Lost Their Accents Before We Were Free Yo! In the Name of Salome

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