Wednesday, February 24, 2010

On My Wishlist: Return to Sender


I have always loved Julia Alvarez. I have read several of her adult novels and I've taught her young adult novel Before We Were Free a few times. I find her writing to be a bit magical and her use of language is powerful. Here is a synopsis of why Alvarez wrote Return to Sender from her website:

The seed for the novel came when I got involved translating at local schools for the children of Mexican migrant workers who have now made their way up to Vermont. (And boosted our compromised Latino population!) These workers are now doing the milking on many of our dairy farms. Without them, many of our small farmers could not survive, as they, too, are being squeezed by the high cost of farming and a dearth of workers.

Seeing how baffled the Mexican children and their classmates were about how to understand this situation that had thrown us all together, I thought: we need a story to understand what is happening to us! The title comes from a dragnet operation that the Department of Homeland Security conducted in 2006, named, Return to Sender. Work places were raided and undocumented workers were seized. Their children were the biggest casualties of this operation -- left behind to be soothed and reassured until they could be finally reunited with their parents.


Because we do not live anywhere near Mexico, it can be hard for students in my school district to understand the multitude of issues related to immigration. I have lived in the Southwest, though, and know that there are no simple solutions to any of the issues related to immigration. I can't wait to read Return to Sender and to share it with my students!

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