Kid reviews for Return to Sender

Common Sense says

Intense story about illegal immigration and friendship.
Based on our expert review

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 3 reviews
Kid, 11 years old October 5, 2020

Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez

This book is the story of a young girl and her family illegally immigrating to America. While it shows that friendships are possible no matter what color your skin is, I wouldn't recommend it because there are several scenes where members of the family are dragged off, and the mother of the girl was held prisoner by an evil group that mistreated her so badly that she had nightmares and cried about it when she tried to talk about her experiences. It also has some sexual content, such as the mother (as I mentioned previously) was kidnapped by a group of all men, and one of Mari's (the girl) uncles was working as a bouncer at a bar. I don't know if this book would be the best choice for a family read-aloud.

This title contains:

Educational Value
Violence & scariness
Sexy stuff
Kid, 12 years old August 2, 2016

Somewhat Intense, Emotional, But Heartwarming Book

First off, I want to say this book is very emotional. Strong emotions are being portrayed to the point where at some points, I almost cried from the sadness of their situation. Even though the ending was somewhat happy, the events along the way are traumatic and not for any kid under 11 unless they are extremely mature. But the book does point out an important issue that needs to be addressed by the government and the our society. That said, let me jump into the review:

This book was written to teach about how illegal immigration was an issue and to present that illegal immigrants are people just like the rest of us. The main character, Tyler, becomes good friends with Mari, the oldest Cruz daughter. The Cruzes have a lot of struggles, such as the loss of their mother. While they were illegally crossing the border, the people who helped them, referred to as coyotes, kidnapped their mother. The main family disobeys the law against using illegal immigrants as workers, but says it is "right in God's eyes" and teaches that it is OK to do something against the law as long as it is morally right, which can be questioned by some.

Some sexual content: A woman is kidnapped by men. Their uncle worked as a bouncer at a bar.

This book can be extremely sad at points, such as when Mari and her family are teased because of their immigration or when their mom is missing for more than a year. There are some intense moments that will make sensitive kids feel upset, such as the arrest of a close relative. The threat of police deporting them or locking them up was constant throughout the book.

Illegal immigration is a sensitive topic, but I feel like Ms. Alvarez does an amazing job portraying it in a young adult novel that addresses the issue without unnecessary sexual content, violence, or intensity but at the same time avoids sugar coating it and making it look "not too bad." I think this is a must-read for all teens and some mature tweens to show how the pressing issue of illegal immigration does not only exist in the political world but also has a very real presence in our society.

This title contains:

Educational Value
Positive Messages
Sexy stuff
Teen, 17 years old Written bycmmd August 24, 2013

Return to Sender

I had to read this book for my summer reading in English class. I am 12 but I think it is fine for any kid 9 and up. There are a few immigration scenes but none of them or violent or describe any violent things happening. The only thing is that when the find their mom, apparently she was beat and was forced to be a slave. They don't go into any details but I think all kids need to eventually be exposed to those kinds of dangers. Overall it was a great book though.

This title contains:

Educational Value
Positive Messages