First Boy by Gary Schmidt - Cooper is being raised by his grandfather, a New Hampshire dairy farmer during a heated presidential campaign. Cooper's grandfather passes away and he copes by putting all of his energy into saving the dairy farm. But mysterious men start to visit him and even the president sends her henchmen after him. Is he really the president's illegitimate son?
This fun YA political thriller captures small town New England quite well. There's the crotchety neighbor, the helpful families, and in the end they all pull together. Anything by Gary Schmidt is a pleasure to read. Many of the reviews of this book on Goodreads are quite negative, but I actually enjoyed it. Schmidt is a great writer.
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Return to Sender by Julia Álvarez - Tyler's father, a Vermont farmer is injured while working and decides to hire Mexican migrant workers to save his farm. Tyler is unsure of whether he wants the help on the farm and wonders if the family his father hires is documented or not. Mari is the daughter of the man that startes working for Tyler's father and is undocumented. Her mother is missing because she had to return to Mexico. Mari and her family have just moved to the northern state and does not know if she will be accepted. Many of the old timers in the town are upset that Mexicans are moving into their town to work on farms, but farmers who are desperate to save their farms are willing to take the chance and hire undocumented workers.
This book is based a a Vermont reality as told in the author's note. The farmers' struggle is what inspired the author to write this book. It is told from both Tyler's and Mari's perspectives which presents the worries of both teenagers' sides very well. It was fun to listen to, but at times the story dragged a bit.