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This article explores the ways in which Julia Alvarez’s semi-epistolary young adult novel Return to Sender (2009) demonstrates reading and writing as ideological practices. The novel’s co-protagonist Mari, a Mexican undocumented migrant living in Vermont, is marginalized by her illegal status in the US, and creates, through her letters and diary entries, transformative spaces of writing. The novel illustrates what Alvarez considers the nation’s cultural illiteracy, in which social conditioning criminalizes illegal immigrants and creates an environment of paranoia and fear. The novel addresses this illiteracy by creating a vision of transnational citizenship, primarily through Mari’s epistolary narrative, which documents her family’s experiences and offers certain stylistic features particular to epistolary writing that allow Alvarez to demonstrate the instabilities of migrant life in the US.