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Return to Sender

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  3,571 ratings  ·  731 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 7th 2009)
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Veronica I did battle of the books for 5 years! My favorite book... thats tough i would say Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine or any of the books by Ruta Sepetys.
Taco Eater Return to sender is recommended for ages 8-12 but i think anybody above that range would enjoy this book.

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Average rating 3.77  · 
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 ·  3,571 ratings  ·  731 reviews

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Mar 26, 2009 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
Mar 03, 2018 rated it liked it
The main 2 characters in this book are pre-teens Tyler and Maria who's worlds collide when Maria's father and a couple other relatives are hired to work on Tyler's family's farm after his father gets in an accident that leaves him unable to take care of their dairy farm. Maria's father and her are both in the states illegally along with her uncle. She has two younger sisters who are american citizens. The mother is through out the book missing with no contact with them for a year. She is on the ...more
Sep 11, 2009 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
Arianne 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
Jul 15, 2010 rated it it was ok
the best part of this book was learning that this punctuation mark: ?! is called an interrobang. who knew?!
Debbie Gillespie
Sep 10, 2011 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
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
Janet Frost
May 14, 2013 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 17, 2013 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
Jun 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
I have always enjoyed reading the books of Julia Alvarez but had never read any of the books she had written for children and teenagers. When my son gave me this book, I was anxious to read it. "Return to Sender" is written for middle school readers. It sends a powerful message to children in this age group about what it means to be an undocumented immigrant. 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 ...more
Ms. Sethi
Nov 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book tells the story of two families. There are two narrators, fifth graders from each family. I loved how the story was realistic about the challenges facing immigrant families and family-owned farms in the United States today. I loved the format of sometimes telling the story through letters and having Spanish integrated in the book! I will be sharing this novel with my students especially as we are talking about immigration and what it means to be an "American." ...more
Apr 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A MUST-READ children’s book.

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
Finally finished the last of this set of books I had to read for my class! This book was so incredibly touching and reflective of the harrowing fears and issues illegal immigrants must face trying to earn a better living by coming to America. I adored that this book was in dual perspective, as it gives insight to both sides of the coin: white American citizen and Mexican illegal immigrant.

I had major issues with many of the white POVS at the beginning of this book, however, it is important to no
Apr 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: diverse
Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez is a moving novel about the realities of migrant Mexican workers, immigration, patriotism, and friendship. This chapter book is reviewed by Booklist and Kirkus Reviews. It is the winner of the Pura Belpre and the Americas Awards. In particular, when Tyler’s father gets injured in a tractor accident, the family must hire Mexican workers to help run the dairy farm. Eleven-year-old Tyler soon learns that the Cruz family is undocumented and lives in fear of la migra ...more
Jun 25, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: bbya-2009, youngadult
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. ...more
Anne Marie
Oct 11, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: young-adult
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." ...more
Jul 17, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: grad-class, gave-up
Again, I wonder if I can rate things when I give up on the book, but it was THAT bad. The entire plot was cliche, the writing was horrid (if she used one more exclamation point, I was going to go insane), it was just bad. Which is disappointing, because Julia Alvarez is usually really good. Anyway, don't try this one. ...more
Jan 02, 2013 rated it did not like it
i found this pedantic, prosaic,& a real disappointment from Julia.
Even for a younger audience i think it borders on insultingly simplistic, Manichæic; a definite skip.
Isaac Jensen
Return to Sender tells the story of the relationship between Mari, an undocumented Mexican girl, and Tyler, the son of the dairy farming family for whom Mari’s father works. The two try to navigate all the challenges of growing up, while also confronting loss and the unique challenges of the immigrant experience.

In the last year or so, I have been trying to read more young adult fiction written by or centering the narratives of women and POC. Recently, I looked through the books I’ve added on G
Richie Partington
Feb 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, box1
22 February 2009 RETURN TO SENDER by Julia Alvarez, Knopf, January 2009, 325p., ISBN: 978-0-375-85838-3

"Mr. Neck writes on the board again: 'DEBATE: America should have closed her borders in 1900.' That strikes a nerve. Several nerves. I can see kids counting backward on their fingers, trying to figure when their grandparents or great-grandparents were born, when they came to America, if they would have made the Neck Cut. When they figure out they would have been stuck in a country that hated t
Jan 19, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult, bipoc
Return to Sender was definitely not something I would have picked up on my own. It was assigned reading for my intercultural connections class. I don’t usually read juvenile fiction (but I’m working on changing that). From the beginning things were a little rocky with this title. Even now, while I’m trying to write a review, my opinion is still rocky.

Tyler is a an eleven-year-old boy returning to his family’s farm after a sabbatical in the city with his aunt and uncle to heal after the death of
Oct 12, 2011 rated it did not like it
1) Genre: Contemporary Realism

2) Mari’s Mexican family and Tyler’s American family are bonded unexpectedly as her family works on Tyler’s family’s farm. Though this seems to be a simple business trade, Mari and her father are in America illegally. This story is an account of the tribulations they endure together ultimately towards the acceptance of diversity.

3) Critique:

a) I’m not sure if it’s because of my personal beliefs about illegal immigration or if it was simply the way the story was w
Sara Check
Sep 05, 2011 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
May 20, 2012 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sara Hannon
Oct 16, 2011 rated it did not like it
1. Contemporary Realism, Junior Chapter Book
2. Return to Sender is a book about a family of illegal Mexican immigrants who come to work on a family farm. The American family learns tolerance and not to judge because not only do the workers help save their farm, they also teach them about Mexican culture and the importance of the issue of immigration.

3. One thing that stood out to me the most from this story was the way it was written. Part of the narrative was in a basic narrative form told from
Nov 13, 2012 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
Oct 06, 2011 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
Jan 01, 2010 rated it did not like it
I thought this was too didactic and strangely written. I think it could have benefited from a great deal more revision regarding the quality of writing and length. I did not like the alternating "voices" and perspectives from first person past in the letters to third person omniscient present in the narrative. It was awkward and led to a lot of redundancy in the story telling. The voices of the children were not authentic for their ages and they seemed awfully naive. I know that Julia Alvarez is ...more
Abby Johnson
Nov 15, 2009 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
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Julia Alvarez left the Dominican Republic for the United States in 1960 at the age of ten. She is the author of six novels, three books of nonfiction, three collections of poetry, and eleven books for children and young adults. She has taught and mentored writers in schools and communities across America and, until her retirement in 2016, was a writer-in-residence at Middlebury College. Her work h ...more

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