Book Review: Dear Haiti, Love Alaine

Title: Dear Haiti, Love Alaine

Author: Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite

Genres:  Contemporary

Pages: 432

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Review Copy: Purchased

Availability: Available now

Summary: 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.

Review: If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you know I went to the Los Angeles Launch Party for Dear Haiti, Love Alaine hosted by the book’s authors, Make Moulite and Maritza Moulite. Of course, they began with an awesome reading of the novel and based on the except they read, I knew I would love this novel. And I was right. Dear Haiti, Love Alaine was funny, heartwarming, and heartbreaking at the same time.

The novel is told mainly through Alaine’s diary, but also included are emails, texts, internet articles, etc, that really brings the world to life. Alaine is a young woman who is very sure of herself and the direction she wants her life to take, except she sometimes doesn’t think through the potential consequences of her actions, which is why she is sent to Haiti to work for her aunt. I like that the Moulite sisters didn’t actually write “the incident” when it happened, but focused on the immediate fallout. It intrigued me as to what could be so big to cause Alaine to almost get expelled, but then the incident is hinted at and just the hint, I feel, is so much funnier than if the sisters had written the scene out. Alaine is very dramatic, so her reflections on her mistakes tend to be on the dramatic side and that is where the humor lies.

I really liked Alaine as a character, as she has a wonderful heart, but hides it behind a tough exterior. More than anything she wants to develop a good relationship her mom, who is a famous journalist, so she hides that hurt behind her drama. She does come by it honestly, however, as her mom has a flair for the dramatic as well (actually, her entire family does). This desire to have a relationship with her mom is also heartbreaking when she learns that her mother has early onset Alzheimers, which many know is a horrible disease. I really felt for her because I have friends whose parents have Alzheimers and they are struggling with it, I could only imagine how hard it is when one is a teen and having to deal with such a devastating illness. It puts Alaine in a horrible position of getting to know her mother as she is starting to lose her mother. However, her time with mother and her aunt, and learning of the “family curse” and trying to break it, does allow Alaine to begin to understand her mother and that helps heal their relationship. I feel like Alaine’s relationship with her mother is the heart of the book and what also moved me the most.

Dear Haiti, Love Alaine was an enjoyable read where I got lost in the story, in the characters, their lives and the world. When I finished the book, I wasn’t quite ready to leave Alaine, so I hope Maika and Maritza decide to revisit this world and allow us to have more adventures with Alaine.