Friday, April 30, 2010

Return to Sender

Return to SenderReturn to Sender Julia Alvarez

Tyler's family has had a run of bad luck-- first his grandfather dies, and then his father is injured in a horrific farm accident. Timed with his brother going away to college, and it looks like the family might lose the farm. Then Tyler's dad hires three Mexican workers to help out on the farm-- workers that aren't legal.

Mari and her sisters were used to life in North Carolina, but Vermont is different. Colder. They stick out more here. Even worse, Mari's mother went back to Mexico to tend to her dying mother. She hasn't returned yet and now the family has moved...

Told in alternating voices, Mari learns to trust, and Tyler learns that just because something is the law doesn't make it right.

I really really liked and really really didn't like this story all at the same time. Mainly, this is a book WITH A MESSAGE. A huge agenda written all over this. And I didn't necessarily mind that so much, but it made the writing uneven. Sometimes Tyler seemed 6, sometimes 60, rarely was he the sixth grader he was supposed to be. Mari's parts of the story are told in letters to her missing mother, but she includes all this back story that's necessary for the reader to know, but not necessary for her mother to know. Also, in the beginning of the story, Tyler compares EVERYTHING to the Trail of Tears. I understand how when they learn about something like that, kids try to put it into a context they can recognize. But really kid? You losing your farm is JUST LIKE a systematic forced eviction of an entire people? REALLY?! It was offensive.

THAT SAID, I really got into the story. It took me awhile (I was only reading it because I had to for a training at work) but...despite the book's flaws and slow beginning, I really cared about Tyler and Mari and the paths they were taking and by the end, I couldn't put it down.

Book Provided by... my local library

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1 comment:

Melissa said...

Yeah, I couldn't get past the message, or Tyler's inability to be 11, to actually enjoy the book. Glad you did, though. (At least some of it...)