Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Return to Sender Julia Alvarez

Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez - When 11yr old Tyler Paquette returns home to the family farm, he discovers his parents have hired Mexican workers. Before Tyler went to visit family in Boston, is father had a farming accident. Tyler's parents crunched the numbers, the only way they could afford to keep the farm was to hire undocumented Mexican workers. They hired three brothers. One of the men, Mr. Cruz has 3 daughters, the oldest, Mari is Tyler's age. Throughout the novel, Mari writes letters to her mother who had to make a trip back to Mexico and now she's missing. Tyler is coming to terms with the death of his grandfather, and the chance that his family may lose the farm. The story alternates between Tyler and Mari. I loved the voices of both young protagonist. Alvarez writing is a joy. It takes a special kind of author to make, me laugh and cry in the same sentence. It happened towards the end, thanks to Alvarez writing being beautiful and unpredictable. This novel addresses undocumented Mexican workers, working in the United States. And, yes there's much to learn about immigration like the dangers Mexicans face crossing the border (Coyotes), or the dilemma law abiding American farmer owners face with regards to employing illegal workers. However, right now I just want people to know what a great read Return to Sender is, it moves without effort. I highly recommend Return to Sender. Ages 10 up

"He finds the gifts Mr. Cruz asked for, and from himself, he decided on a packet of glow in the dark stars Mari can paste to the ceiling in the trailer. That'll bring a smile to her face. Christmas tears are just the worst unless they're the kind that spring to your eyes when you are so touched, your happiness has to borrow from your sadness."


Color Online said...

I know you want the reader to focus on the beauty and easy of the novel, but I think we need more works that humanizes the plight of illegal immigrants. It is easy to hate and judge people you don't know. We need to look into people's faces.

A great adult novel on the perils of illegal migrants is Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle. It will make you angry. I was outraged.

Doret said...

Alvarez does a great job addressing migrant workers, and how they and American farmer owners are dependent upon each other. The ending isn't all happy but its very realistic. Alvarez doesn't give any easy answer, though great discussion can be had from reading this book.