Review: Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite & Maritza Moulite

dear haiti love alaineMy rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Genre: YA Contemporary
Pages: 432
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Published: September 3rd, 2019

 

Trigger Warning: abuse, attempted sexual assault, miscarriage, Alzheimer’s.

 

 

Co-written by sisters Maika and Maritza Moulite, and told in epistolary style through letters, articles, emails, and diary entries, this exceptional debut novel captures a sparkling new voice and irrepressible heroine in a celebration of storytelling sure to thrill fans of Nicola Yoon, Ibi Zoboi and Jenna Evans Welch!

When a school presentation goes very wrong, Alaine Beauparlant finds herself suspended, shipped off to Haiti and writing the report of a lifetime…
You might ask the obvious question: What do I, a seventeen-year-old Haitian American from Miami with way too little life experience, have to say about anything?
Actually, a lot.
Thanks to “the incident” (don’t ask), I’m spending the next two months doing what my school is calling a “spring volunteer immersion project.” It’s definitely no vacation. I’m toiling away under the ever-watchful eyes of Tati Estelle at her new nonprofit. And my lean-in queen of a mother is even here to make sure I do things right. Or she might just be lying low to dodge the media sharks after a much more public incident of her own…and to hide a rather devastating secret.
All things considered, there are some pretty nice perks…like flirting with Tati’s distractingly cute intern, getting actual face time with my mom and experiencing Haiti for the first time. I’m even exploring my family’s history—which happens to be loaded with betrayals, superstitions and possibly even a family curse.
You know, typical drama. But it’s nothing I can’t handle. – synopsis from Goodreads

my thoughts

“Seriously, I’ve done so much adulting these past few weeks I’ve been looking into retirement options.” 

What drew me to Dear Haiti, Love Alaine first was the beautiful cover it had. After reading the synopsis I thought it was something that I would probably enjoy. This story took me by surprise and blew me away. It is a beautiful ode that expresses love for one’s culture and history.

Plot 

This is a contemporary so there isn’t a huge surprising plot as in fantasy but I have to say that I was captivated by the story. After an incident at school, Alaine is shipped off to Haiti where she is expected to learn more about the history and traditions of her native land. As she uncovers something about her mother and the curse her family is said to have, Alaine goes on a fantastical quest to try to help herself and save all of them. This is very much Alaine’s path to discovering who she is. The incorporation of the curse aspect brings it a certain magical realism to it.

The Characters

Alaine is a snarky, intelligent girl with a bit of an attitude. I really enjoyed her story, she was so likable to me. I think one thing that for me came through in the writing was the search to belong. Alaine is of Haitian heritage but born in the USA. She’s too American for the Haitians and too Haitian for the Americans. She can’t seem to fit on either side but just wants to be herself. It got me thinking about what it would be like to be born in another country, trying to fit in there while learning about your own culture, it can’t be easy. You can see that in the beginning, she doesn’t seem to know a lot about her culture and the history of Haiti. After she is forced to spend some time there we start to see this change and her curiosity grows. She starts to learn more about the rich culture of Haiti and begins to see it as something to be proud of.

Celeste, Alaine’s mother, was such a great character and role model. The fact that she is a world-renowned journalist POC with a TV that everyone watches gives me life. Even though her relationship with her daughter is rocky, Celeste tries her best to mend the gap between them.

Estelle, Alaine’s aunt, was another great female character. For me, she was the bridge between Alaine and her mother; as well as Alaine and her culture.

The setting

The story of Dear Haiti, Love Alaine takes place in Florida at first and then moves to Haiti. I have to say that I loved learning about Haitian culture and getting to read about these beautiful places through the eyes of Alaine. Maika Moulite & Maritza Moulite really highlighted their country so beautifully.

The writing

The way the story is told is as if we are reading Alaine’s report for a class, it’s such an original way of depicting a story. For me, it was seamless. I did listen to the audiobook, so the format flowed very easily. If you pick up the book you will see that it is told through a series of letters. The writing style of Maika Moulite & Maritza Moulite was funny, witty and bewitching. The love that they have for their country and culture really came through in their writing. It left me wanting to research the history of Haiti.

Final thoughts

I am so appreciative to have read Dear Haiti, Love Alaine which permitted me to learn about the rich history and culture of a country. I can’t wait to see what else Maika Moulite & Maritza Moulite have in store. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for their next book.

5 stars

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