Synopses & Reviews
After Tyler's father is injured in a tractor accident, his family is forced to hire migrant Mexican workers to help save their Vermont farm from foreclosure. Tyler isnt sure what to make of these workers. Are they undocumented? And what about the three daughters, particularly Mari, the oldest, who is proud of her Mexican heritage but also increasingly connected her American life. Her family lives in constant fear of being discovered by the authorities and sent back to the poverty they left behind in Mexico. Can Tyler and Mari find a way to be friends despite their differences?
In a novel full of hope, but no easy answers, Julia Alvarez weaves a beautiful and timely story that will stay with readers long after they finish it.
"After Tyler's father's accident, his family hires undocumented Mexican workers in a last-ditch effort to keep their Vermont farm. Despite his reservations, Tyler soon bonds with a worker's daughter, who is in his sixth-grade class. His problems seem small compared to Mari's: her family fears deportation, and her mother has been missing since re-entering the States months ago. While this novel is certainly issue-driven, Alvarez (Before We Were Free) focuses on her main characters, mixing in Mexican customs and the touching letters that Mari writes to her mother, grandmother and even the U.S. president. Readers get a strong sense of Tyler's growing maturity, too, as he navigates complicated moral choices. Plot developments can be intense: Mari's uncle lands in jail, and her mother turns out to have been kidnapped and enslaved during her crossing. Some characters and sentiments are over-the-top, but readers will be moved by small moments, as when Tyler sneaks Mari's letter to her imprisoned uncle, watching as the man puts his palm on the glass while Tyler holds up the letter from the other side. A tender, well-constructed book. Ages 8 12." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Like a warm cup of alphabet soup, this offering packs several essential ingredients--hope, love, despair, courage, family, honor--into a hearty, child-size blend."--Kirkus "Viney's spare narrative will hold readers with the dramatic details of her daily life."--Booklist
A heartwarming coming-of-age story set in the rural South. With her friend Missy Violet away in Florida, Viney has big shoes to fill. While there are ailing neighbors to comfort, Vineys favorite teacher has left school—and Vineys irrepressible cousin Charles continues his mischief-making. Through short, powerful vignettes and letters between Missy Violet, Viney, and others, the day-to-day happenings in this warm southern town come to life.
About the Author
Julia Alvarez is the author of several novels for young readers including How Tía Lola Came to Visit Stay, Finding Miracles, and Before We Were Free, winner of the ALAs Pura Belpré Award. Her books for adults include How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, In the Time of the Butterflies, and Once Upon a Quinceañera. She is a writer-in-residence at Middlebury College in Vermont.