Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Return to Sender” as Want to Read:
Return to Sender
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Return to Sender

3.7  ·  Rating details ·  2,437 Ratings  ·  578 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, 325 pages
Published January 13th 2009 by Knopf Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2009)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Sep 11, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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  ·  review of another edition
the best part of this book was learning that this punctuation mark: ?! is called an interrobang. who knew?!
Jun 25, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.

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
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
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Ms. Sethi
Nov 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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."
Apr 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Nov 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Mar 18, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Anne Marie
Oct 11, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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."
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.
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was far preachier than any of Julia Alvarez's other works. Also, when you read a lot of one author in a short amount of time, you notice repetitious things. Like, when adults call their sons "tiger."
Christina N
Jun 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2017
The plot was so creative and I loved it. Unfortunately, the pacing wasn't right for me, and I didn't pick up the book too much to start reading. Still a pretty good read though!
Jordan Henderson
Mar 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was well written, although sometimes it got confusing to follow the different voices. It was about a little boy whose father had to hire immigrants to work for him after he is injured. The little boy bonds with one of the daughters of the immigrant worker named Mari befriends him. She is more outgoing than him, while he focuses on his studies she is a little more fun loving. Tyler is concerned about the status of the workers but finds a friend in Mari who misses her home. Together they ...more
Natalie Varnell
Genre: Contemporary Realism
Return to Sender is a story told through two different perspectives. The two voices to be heard throughout the book come from two different twelve year olds. One is a son of a farmer, and the other is the oldest of three Mexican daughters working without proper documents on a Vermont farm. Tyler is the young boy in this story and he learns that sometimes being wrong is being right. Mari is the young girl and through her letters we can see the struggle to be str
Jul 29, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A couple things to note first off, the book is written in a mix of letters that Mari writes and 3rd person narration watching the character Tyler. By doing this the reader is able to see things from multiple points of view and creating variety to the story telling. At times it felt a bit stilted and if you didn't pay attention to whom the letter was written, it could be a tad confusing.

I'm conflicted writing this review. Parts I really liked and others...not so much. This is a hot topic right no
Oct 12, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
May 20, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 07, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: juvenile
Told from two different perspectives, this is a story of immigrants from Mexico, half of which are illegal, and a Yankee farm family. Tyler lives on a dairy farm in Vermont, and they need help. His grandfather recently died, his father had a farming accident and his older brother is leaving for college. This leads to hiring Mari and her family, and thus begins a tale of friendship, freedom and understanding. Tyler and Mari are in school together, and discover they both enjoy stargazing, which of ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Immigration 1 2 Apr 10, 2015 12:21PM  
Review 1 1 Apr 09, 2015 01:35PM  
  • Mostly Sunny with a Chance of Storms
  • Just in Case
  • The Curse of Deadman's Forest (Oracles of Delphi Keep, #2)
  • Sophie's Secret (Sophie, #2)
  • Diego: Bigger Than Life
  • My Abuelita
  • Jeff Corwin: A Wild Life: The Authorized Biography
  • The Brimstone Key (Grey Griffins: The Clockwork Chronicles, #1)
  • Los Gatos Black on Halloween
  • A Nest for Celeste: A Story About Art, Inspiration, and the Meaning of Home
  • The Tequila Worm
  • The Storyteller's Candle/La velita de los cuentos
  • Shadows in the Twilight
  • A Suitcase of Seaweed and Other Poems
  • Gracias/Thanks
  • Bird
  • Me, Frida
  • The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba's Struggle for Freedom
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...