Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez

13 Dec

Tyler’s dad had a tractor accident. His brother is about to go college. And his high school aged sister isn’t about to help much. Since Tyler is only 12, he has to go to school. He can’t help like he wants to on the farm. The farm that has been in his family forever. María Dolores (Mari) is Mexican, and her father and uncles have been hired to do the work that Tyler, his brother and his dad can’t do.  Tyler tells his side of the story, while  Mari’s is in letter format — letters she writes to her mother but never sends. Mari is here illegally, but her sisters aren’t. They were born here. Their lives are here.

A lot of Vermont farmers hire Mexican laborers. But feelings are mixed about the details of those relationships and the lives of the workers and their families. Mari’s mother, who returned to Mexico a year ago to visit her mother, has gone missing.  They aren’t sure if she is dead, with La Migra (immigration) or with the coyotes.

Tyler and Mari struggle with problems, emotions and complications that her arrival at his house brings. They go to school and become friends. Mari and her sisters, also named María Ofelia (Ofie) and María Lubyneida (Luby), (Tyler calls them the three Marías) become a part of the family and Tyler learns exactly how much he will do to keep his family, his blood family and his new family safe and protected.

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