Return to Sender – Julia Alvarez

February 16, 2009

Because Tyler’s dad has an accident at the farm,  the Paquettes have no choice but to hire illegal Mexican workers if they want to keep farming. At first Tyler does not know what to make of these workers.  Why would his father, a patriotic man, do something so illegal? Soon, however, Tyler befriends the oldest daughter of one of the workers. The daughter, Mari, is in Tyler’s sixth grade class. Mari’s sisters, Luby and Ofie, are American citizens. What will the happen if Mari’s family be caught by la migra?

Return to Sender is fantastic read. In no way does Return to Sender say illegal immigration is okay. What it does is show that illegal immigrants are just human beings and need to be treated like ones. This novel shows the hardships illegal Mexicans must endure and addresses why they come illegally.

Return to Sender also included the story of the Cruz sisters’ struggle between being American and being Mexican. Mari, being born in Mexico, has always been the closest to her Mexican heritage, but at the farm, she realizes that she is perfectly happy to be in America. Luby and Ofie, on the other hand, are forgetting their Spanish. Sometimes, Mari even has to be the translator between her sisters and her father. Because the sisters’ struggle is not the main point of the story, Alvarez barely addresses it. Luckily, the end naturally gives a satisfying conclusion to the story.

What I loved most about Return to Sender was that Alvarez did not sugarcoat anything. By this, I mean she wrote realistically. Many of the things that happen in the story are frightening, and the end is bittersweet. I believe that Return to Sender has the power to change people’s opinions on illegal immigration, and  I would definitely recommend Return to Sender, especially to middle schoolers.

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