#IMWAYR (4/27/2020): Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite

For #IMWAYR, I am recommending Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite.

A word of caution to any young readers: this book is a YA (young adult) novel, not an MG (middle grade) novel and contains some mature content.




          Alaine Beauparlant doesn't have an average family. Her mother, Celeste Beauparlant, is a journalist who hosts a widely-watched TV news program called Sunday Politicos (and is an immigrant from Haiti), and Celeste's twin sister Estelle is the Minister of Tourism for Haiti and founder of PATRON PAL, an app that allows people to donate to help specific children in Haiti and see exactly how they benefit from the money. Alaine's outgoing, fiery nature (like that of her mother and aunt) will likely benefit her later in life, but as a teenager in private school, it is the catalyst for what my copy's front flap calls "the incident." "The incident" results in Alaine's school agreeing for her to spend the rest of the school year in Haiti (her first visit) volunteering with PATRON PAL, as well as getting to see her mother, who is taking time off from her hyper-busy lifestyle after her own dramatic incident and a shocking health diagnosis. On her trip, Alaine gets swept up in Haitian history, time with her usually-absent mother, the beginnings of a possible romance, and plenty of family drama (including a possible curse). Written in epistolary form (a word I just learned but will pretend to use as if I am quite familiar with it), Dear Haiti, Love Alaine shows Alaine's journey of joy, sorrow, and growth as she embarks on the trip of a lifetime.
          I really enjoyed this book! Two aspects of Dear Haiti, Love Alaine make it a truly unique read: the format and Alaine herself. Most of the book is told in entries from Alaine's diary, all of which showcase her unique personality: she is afraid of almost nothing, ready to speak her mind, and snarky yet thoughtful. Alaine's diary entries have sarcasm, strikethroughs, and the occasional slang word that you won't understand at all. Occasionally, the story switches from diary entries to text messages, emails, lists, and more, and these are often even more humorous: one of the most climactic scenes in the book is told as a recipe. (Yes, a recipe.) There are times when Alaine's unique personality seems a touch unrealistic, but it overall (along with the format) makes this book truly fun to read.
          Dear Haiti, Love Alaine also has a truly interesting story. Barring the unrealistic setup (I'm unsure how Alaine volunteering with her aunt for several months qualifies as punishment), Alaine's trip sets up a variety of truly interesting plot points. Readers get to see a vivid look at Haiti as Alaine visits historic locations and tourist destinations, and the book also highlights the divide in Haiti between the wealthy families (such as Alaine's own) and the poorer residents (a divide especially accentuated by Alaine's and Estelle's work with PATRON PAL). This divide becomes especially important later in the book, although I won't say why—you'll have to read the book to find out! Also, the book draws from the history of Haiti's fight for independence to set up the possible curse I mentioned earlier; the authors explain in the author's note that the history in the book doesn't exactly match real life, but instead creates a sort of "What if...?" alternate history, which is still fascinating to read and learn about! Lastly, I want to mention that Dear Haiti, Love Alaine impressively deals with Alaine's pain/denial/other feelings about her mother's diagnosis; with most books, these feelings would become the core of the novel and turn it into a depressing read, but with this book, they are just one of many story elements and never make the story too dour.
          I don't love everything about Dear Haiti, Love Alaine. The first half of the book is an extremely fast read but doesn't have quite as much plot movement as it needs; I thought I was still at the beginning at the book when I checked and realized I was a little over halfway! There are also a few sentences in the book that literally make no sense; I could not make heads or tails of what they were saying! Also, I have to point out that there should be a comma between Love and Alaine in the title—that bugs me to no end! Despite the flaws, however, Dear Haiti, Love Alaine is a truly excellent read that tackles a number of interesting topics and ideas through the unique lens of its narrator and format! I recommend this book to everyone!

(P.S. This book was written by two sisters, and I honestly think it's amazing that two siblings wrote a book together without arguing each other to death—I feel like that's what would have happened if I wrote a book with a sibling!)

Update (1/2/2021): My rating is: Pretty good!



Comments

  1. Super neat that two sisters co-wrote the book together! I haven't seen this one yet, but it sounds like a really interesting read.

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    1. I haven't heard much buzz about it, to be honest—I just found it on the shelf at a Barnes & Noble a few months ago. I hope you enjoy the book!

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  2. I was on the edge of my seat wondering what your final verdict would be ... I will check it out. Very interesting that is was written by siblings!

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  3. Sounds very interesting, format & story, too. I will put it on my list! Thanks for sharing this new book!

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  4. Ha ha, I love that you just learned the word "epistolary" and you're pretending to use it as if you're familiar with it! I learned that word when I read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society in 2008 (much better and more detailed than the recent film, although I enjoyed that too)! But I never knew how to pronounce it! (Do you pronounce the t as you do in pistol? or is it more like epistle?)

    I've noticed the stylish and striking cover of Dear Haiti, Love, Alaine, before, but didn't check out the book. How fascinating that some of it is told with text messages, emails, lists, and a recipe! A climactic scene told as a recipe! Wow! That intrigues me.

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    1. I actually didn't know which way "epistolary" is pronounced, but I Googled it, and the "t" is in the pronunciation guide (it is not for words like "epistle"). Also, I hope you enjoy the book if you try it!

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  5. YA seems to be the age range that is keeping my attention the best, at the moment. I'll have to keep this one in mind!

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  6. Definitely looks like an interesting one to check out! I'm looking forward to the day the library reopens! Thanks for sharing and have a good week; stay healthy and safe!

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  7. I noticed that Dear Haiti, Love Alaine is available through Overdrive as an audiobook and as an e-book (which is great during this time of social distancing). So I'm grateful to know a little more about it. Thanks for sharing and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

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    1. That's really convenient! It definitely seems like a ton of people are using OverDrive right now. I hope you enjoy the book if you try it!

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    2. Yes, lots of new users. I'm happy for everyone who has discovered it, but as a long-time user I'll have to adjust to longer wait times for some titles. OR... perhaps our library could up their purchase of e-books and audiobooks while we can't check out print books (our library has the option to purchase Overdrive books and add it to our statewide system). :)

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  8. Thank you for sharing this book with us! New to me, and now I really want to read it!
    Happy reading :)

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