2024 Reading Challenge

2024 Reading Challenge
Tina has read 0 books toward her goal of 39 books.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

REVIEW for Return to Sender

A big thank you goes out to Random House Children and Knopf Delacorte Dell for sending me this YA novel!!!!

TITLE: Return to Sender

AUTHOR: Julia Alvarez

GENRE: Teens

DATE: January 13, 2009

RATING: 3.5 stars

I had never heard of this book and it was, therefore, great to see it in my mailbox. I love YA and this book was an easy, enjoyable read.

The storyline is actually quite topical and since this book is mainly aimed at younger audiences, I think it works very well as both an entertaining read and an informative one.

In the opening chapter, we meet Tyler who is eleven years old. He is very sensitive and has had a difficult time dealing with the fact that his father has had a severe accident which could result in the family losing their farms. Tyler is sent away from the farm to relax and experiences another heartache - his grandfather passes away. While Tyler returns to the farm, he is determined to help his dad as best he can in order to make sure the farm is not lost.

On his return Tyler discovers that his family has hired a family of Mexican migrant workers - who are in the country illegally. This adds to the concerns that young Tyler has for the farm. However, in the midst of all this chaos, there is one bright light in the form of Mari - she is the daughter of one of the Mexican workers and Tyler soon befriends her and discovers that Mari has concerns of her own - chief among them how they will be able to stay in the US illegally.

This book was a very deep and touching read. The storyline details very accurately the struggles that many small farming towns must be facing in this day and age and it was very difficult to read some of the passages - to see a family work so hard for all of their life and now have to live the fact that it could all be taken away from them in one sweeping gesture.

I loved how the author wrote two storylines into one here - combining the struggles of two sets of families - almost putting them side to side for us to see how different these families were and yet, at the same time, were going through equally distressing, difficult times.

I thought this book was well written and very informative, certainly for someone like me who has extremely limited knowledge of both the farming issues and the illegal immigrant issues. Which brings me to the characters.

Both Mari and Tyler were wonderfully engaging characters and I like that they were portrayed as smart and resourceful. However, I also thought that the author burden them a little too much with life's responsibilities at such a young age. I mean, these eleven year olds almost sounded like adults at times and perhaps that was part of the author's plan, but it makes me feel as though I would hesitate to give this to my kids - unless they were older. I would still like to see an 11 year old be able to "escape" in a book without having to read about other 11 year olds struggles.

Also, I think this book may have more "staying" power in the areas that are most concerned with farming and perhaps nearer the Mexican border. As a Montrealer, I cannot say that I have any firsthand experience with either and while I think its important to educate our teens out there on the problems of the world, some target audiences may feel a disconnect with two subjects that are so far removed from their reality. Illegal aliens are not a big deal in Montreal certainly and I would wager to say in Canada as a whole and while farming touches everyone, it is also not the huge issue here that it is in the US.

Overall, this book was a satisfying read, but I would definitely suggest it for teens over the age of 14 or so.


Anonymous said...

The book sounds interesting and I love the cover.

cindysloveofbooks said...

Sounds good Tina. Can't wait to read it. See you soon. :)

Kristie said...

This book sounds like a great way to get young adults thinking about many topics that may seem to have nothing to do with them. I enjoy seeing when authors tackle topical issues.

Wall-to-wall books said...

I think this book sounds really good!

Yan said...

Oh! I've actually heard of this book!

Sue A. said...

This story is too close to home for it to be a casual read for me, having had a farming background.

-.- said...

I love the cover for this book. Good review!

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