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Return to Sender

3.68  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,923 Ratings  ·  512 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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Mar 26, 2009 Walt rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 11, 2009 Jean rated it it was ok
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
Jun 25, 2009 Anne rated it liked it
Shelves: youngadult, bbya-2009
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.
Jul 15, 2010 Kelly rated it it was ok
the best part of this book was learning that this punctuation mark: ?! is called an interrobang. who knew?!
Oct 08, 2011 529_Gary rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1-latino
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
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
Sara Check
Oct 18, 2011 Sara Check rated it it was ok
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
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
Nov 13, 2012 Daniela rated it it was amazing
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
Janet Frost
May 14, 2013 Janet Frost rated it really liked it
This book was on my list for Hispanic authors with Hispanic characters. I was totally engaged with the characters. The story was based on several pertinent struggles in our country today. The main conflict was concerning migrant workers and the immigration issues. But the secondary, and equally as heart-wrenching story-line was the farm family that is forced to hire the migrant workers in order to save their family farm. The young characters genuinely struggle through the minefield of these very ...more
Jan 21, 2016 Rachel rated it it was amazing
I could not put this book down! I was engrossed in the story, waiting to see what was going to happen to Mari and her family and wondering how this was going to impact Tyler and the farm. The continual shift in perspectives between these two main characters kept me engaged as well. I tried to imagine that I was reading this novel as a middle school student, wondering how I would react and whose "side" I would have been on at that age. I appreciated that Tyler was going through a similar struggle ...more
Abby Johnson
Nov 15, 2009 Abby Johnson rated it liked it
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
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
Oct 16, 2011 Debbie Gillespie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 16, 2009 Wendy rated it it was ok
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
Mar 24, 2009 Libriar rated it liked it
Shelves: childrens
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
Sep 02, 2015 Erika rated it really liked it
I was pleasantly surprised by the directness of this book in dealing with very relevant topics in a way I think children will relate to. Contrary to some other reviews, I feel the children's voices are genuine. It did a good job of putting me into the shoes of an illegal immigrant family and the white Patrones, and describing the mixed feelings of everyone involved. It was painful to imagine illegal children feeling so unsafe, and it definitely drew my sympathies to the cause. The ending felt a ...more
May 11, 2009 Dawn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: washyarg, tween
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
Sep 20, 2014 Hattie Rose rated it liked it
Shelves: wjhs, crime
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.
Nov 18, 2009 Jane rated it really liked it
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
This book by the well-loved author Julia Alvarez explores the hot button political issue of illegal immigrations. She alternates chapters between the male protagonist, Tyler, born and raised on his family's farm in Vermont, and Mari, who is an illegal immigrant from Mexico. She and her family (minus her missing mother) have come to Vermont to work on Tyler's family farm and live in a trailer on his property. Alvarez does a great job making the two teens' voices distinct, one way is that she inco ...more
Vamos a Leer
Aug 12, 2015 Vamos a Leer rated it it was amazing
"I call my type of inspiration `the pebble in my shoe' inspiration, that little pebble I can't seem to shake out of my mind! Life gives me a lot of them." (Alvarez, "In her own words" p.5).

Return to Sender tells the story of two children coming to terms with the realities of life within the context of immigration and the United States. In her review of the book Sonja Bollee writes, "There is a great deal of recent children's fiction about immigration, but it tends to the earnest rather than the
Mary Ledom
Apr 14, 2015 Mary Ledom rated it really liked it
Return to Sender was a very unique and wonderful book. This book was about a family who hired immigrants to help their farm because the farm was soon going to be taken from them. This is a book about friendship and loyalty and I think students will easily pick up on this and will be able to make great conversation. Throughout the entire book, I felt like I was there. The great detail and the ways the author wrote the book were very understandable for fifth and sixth graders. I was very impressed ...more
Courtney Weber
Apr 13, 2015 Courtney Weber rated it really liked it
This book was the most serious book that I read. I did not relate to it at all, but I am sure there are many people that could. The book deals with illegal immigrants, a mother being held hostage for ransom, a family losing their farm, and several worried characters. If the kids could not relate to any of the above situations then i'm sure they could relate to the worried and untrusting kids. It is not always easy to trust what adults or other people are telling you. Also, kids get worried a lot ...more
Sarah Nottingham
Apr 13, 2015 Sarah Nottingham rated it really liked it
Return to Sender is about two children Tyler and Maria. Both of their families are enduring life altering situations; that bring their two families together. Tyler ultimate goal is to keep the family farm while Marias is to develop a stable environment for her family. But when Tyler finds out Maria's family is illegal the book has a change in events, keeping the reader on the fence throughout the story. What will happen next?
I liked the book but understand why it has the high level of reading.
Landon Rotolo-Utz
Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez is a great piece of literature. While it took me several chapters to get invested once the plot got going it was hard to put the book down. Though, several times I had to stop and get tissues. This text would be a great way to help children understand the idea of perspectives and how sometimes life isn't as black and white as we'd like.

This book could be used in numerous ways throughout a school. In the classroom it could be taught along side a social studies
Anna Korroch
Apr 13, 2015 Anna Korroch rated it really liked it
This story was very eye opening for me. I often hear talk about the issue of immigration, but have not taken the time to think much about it. Hearing it from the perspective of young children made it seem very real to me. It is hard to imagine that all over America similar situations are going on within many families. It helped me to empathize with the immigrants and to realize how hard and scary it really can be for them. I understand Tyler's hesitation at first, because I probably would have r ...more
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Review 1 1 Apr 09, 2015 01:35PM  
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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...

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