Thursday, April 29, 2010

An award-winner

Return to Sender, by Julia Alvarez, is a moving, thought-provoking exploration of freedom, patriotism, and friendship. Tyler's family hires Mexican workers to help out on their Vermont farm after his dad is severely injured in a tractor accident. Three young girls are part of the Mexican family, and one of them, Mari, is placed in Tyler's class. In constant fear of la migra, the immigration police, the girls' father and uncles restrict themselves to the farm. Their mother is missing. As Tyler learns more about their family, he is by turns grateful, resentful, confused, and sympathetic. When one of the uncles is arrested after leaving the farm with Tyler's brother, Tyler goes with an interpreter to visit him in jail so he can deliver messages from the family. As the family's troubles escalate, Tyler's support becomes more and more tangible and meaningful.

This book won the 2010 Pura Belpre' Author Award, and its fully developed characters and tightly woven plot are a joy to read.

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