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*Return to Sender* by Julia Alvarez- young readers fantasy book review
Also by Julia Alvarez:

The Gift of Gracias: The Legend of Altagracia
Return to Sender
by Julia Alvarez
Ages 9-12 336 pages Knopf January 2009 Hardcover    

One of the greatest pleasures a parent can have is sharing a book with their child. With so many amazing books coming out for children of all ages these days, the only downside is not having enough time to share them all.

Julia Alvarez’s Return to Sender chronicles the struggles of a Vermont dairy-farming family and their hired help, a Mexican family comprised of both legal and illegal aliens. Set during the past administration, we learn firsthand the struggles of a family trying to earn enough for others back home, while flying under the radar of Homeland Security.

Through the perspectives of two children, Vermont farmboy Tyler and Mari, the oldest child in the Mexican family, we learn just how hard it is to apply black-and-white decisions and laws when people are codependent. Tyler’s father was injured in a farming accident; Mari’s father and uncles move to the farm with her two younger sisters, and their mother has disappeared. After traveling home to care for a parent, she does not return. Since the family has to cross the border illegally, all fear that she has been hurt by the “coyotes”, who extort large sums of money to transport Mexicans.

Mari writes many letters to her mother, her grandparents, even the Virgin of Guadalupe. Just as her family begins to assimilate in the Vermont farming town, her uncle gets picked up and held by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Mari writes,
“Which brings me back to my petition Virgencita de Guadalupe that you help deliver Tio Felipe out of prison, even if he has to go back to Mexico.”
Return to Sender incorporates so many of the issues surrounding immigration, farming, and small-town life in Vermont that a classroom could do a whole unit on it. Alvarez especially captures the spirit of rural Vermont, from its small-town citizenry to church bake sales and town meetings. Return to Sender is an enlightening book for ages ten through adult.

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  Lisa Ladd/2009 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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