DEAR HAITI, LOVE ALAINE by MAIKA AND MARITZA MOULITE
A REVIEW by ALEXA DUNCAN
Dear Haiti, Love Alaine is the sort of joyful novel that’s perfect for the summer months. Following seventeen-year-old Alaine Beauparlant as she returns to Haiti, her parents’ homeland, after a particularly disastrous school presentation. Thus begins a wonderful story full of family and friends, heart and plenty of jokes. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting when I picked up this novel, but Dear Haiti didn’t disappoint me in the slightest. In fact, I think it may be one of my favorite reads of the year so far.
As stated above, Dear Haiti follows Alaine after her mess of a history report goes awry. Facing suspension, she agrees to get shipped off to Haiti to help her aunt Estelle with her nonprofit organization, PATRON PAL. The book leans into a multimedia format, written in diary entries by Alaine herself, blog posts, text messages, emails, and more. This was one of the most surprising aspects of Dear Haiti, though not unwanted or even remotely ineffective. I felt these texts and emails did a great job of branching the story’s focus out and giving us a better sense of the “world” around Alaine.
However, the best part about Dear Haiti is Alaine herself. She’s a wonderful main character, her voice so strong it practically screams through the page. Alaine is ambitious and smart, but she’s also fun and sassy, plenty of jokes peppered throughout the narrative to make the book a breeze to read. Another aspect of the book I really liked was its focus on family. Alaine’s mother, father, and aunt are all very present throughout the story, their narratives just as important as Alaine’s. It was also wonderful seeing a Black girl be joyful and have the story be fun, instead of relying on pain and trauma. This isn’t to say stories about Black pain aren’t important, but they shouldn’t the the only things publishers are willing to buy. Dear Haiti is a wonderful antithesis, joyful and fun and so very heartfelt. My only quibble with the book is that it’s quite long for a contemporary. 430 pages!
Be sure to pick up your copy of Dear Haiti, Love Alaine at the Oreana library today!