A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Return to Sender explores illegal immigration in a sympathetic way (immigration laws are not fully described and enforcers are presented negatively), as readers come to know the hearts and minds of both the Vermont family and the Mexican family in the story. The issues and moral dilemmas facing the two main characters, Tyler and Mari, are serious and heavy -- they both worry constantly about breaking the law and getting caught, and are wrought with fear and anxiety. It's mentioned that Mari's mother went missing and was sold into slavery, but Mari eventually rescued her.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Eleven-year old Tyler worries about losing his Vermont farm after the sudden death of his grandfather and a tractor accident leaves his father unable to work. Tyler is desperate to save his farm from being sold. But after his father hires a family of illegal Mexican workers, Tyler wonders if saving the farm is worth breaking the law. Soon Tyler meets Mari, the eldest daughter in the Mexican family. While initially wary of each other, Tyler and Mari soon form a unique friendship that opens their eyes to the lives of the other. Both kids worry about their families and their future, and come to realize that they are forever connected through their shared struggles.
Is it any good?
RETURN TO SENDER is a compassionate narrative that puts a human heart to the hot-button topic of illegal immigration. The story portrays the desire for a better life and how hard work is the means to achieve it. The author captures the intense emotions of both farmer and worker, and tells the story through the questioning innocence of children. However, the main characters -- both 11 years old -- are strapped with enormous emotional burdens and life's adult responsibilities, and the story is laden with their fear and worry.
Parents and educators will find this an important and significant read, but the question remains if kids will actually enjoy reading it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about their own perspectives of illegal immigration. How do you feel about illegal workers being hired to aid farming communities?
Did Mari's story help you understand and sympathize with illegal workers?
How do you feel about illegal immigration? Do you think the laws that exist should be changed or more strongly enforced? What would you do to fix the system if you could?
Families can also talk about the role of immigrants in U.S. history. Do you know any relatives that came from other countries? How did they get to the U.S.? What was their story?
For kids who love coming-of-age and Latino stories
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