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.
LOL. Finally doing this. I absolutely love this book! Easily, easily one of the best books I have read this year and one of the best in terms of Caribbean representation in YA. I love Alaine, who is such a sarcastic, witty narrator, and I love Celeste and the Dad (I forgot the Dad's name but he coo too, LOL).
I love how seamlessly the sisters blend their writing styles. It feels cohesive, as though they were meant to write together their whole lives. Haiti felt like it's own character, from the Kreyol proverbs to the description of the topography, the country comes alive and is not tokenized. This was a huge deal for me. I love Haitian culture and history and I am pleased to say that the sisters got it right. Their love for their country translates very well on page and makes for a great story.
If I had a baby sister I would definitely gift her a copy of Dear Haiti. This book is simply flawless and I hope it gets all the love and attention it deserves. Buy it! Buy it! Buy it!
There were two reasons I wanted to read this book. The first being I just really adore the book cover. I was also interested in Haiti as the book setting as it's not one I've come across very often in my fiction reads. I'm happy to say this book is really something special and if you love YA fiction I highly recommend checking it out!
Seventeen-year-old Alaine Beauparlant messed up. She messed up big time. In order not to be expelled from her private school, she agrees to spend the next few months in the country her parents grew up in, Haiti, where she will participate in a spring volunteer immersion project. She will be staying with her aunt and her mother who fled to Haiti after a rather unfortunate public incident of her own. While Alaine is in Haiti she will learn some history not just about the country but also her family. She also will have to deal with her mother's big news.
While the book is over 400 pages, it is actually a pretty quick read. One of the reasons for that might be how the story is told in a unique way. It's a fun combination of regular old narrative, emails, postcards, notes, diary entries and even parts of Alaine's school assignment. And despite switching around from different methods of moving the story along, I still thought it had a nice flow.
There is just something about Alaine that just resonated with me. I loved how she appeared to be brimming with self-confidence but yet could be just as awkward and unsure like most teenagers. Without getting into spoilers I thought the issues Alaine dealt with regarding her mother were presented in a realistic way and was yet another reason I felt invested in the story. And while the story itself might have a few flaws ( I wasn't digging some of the curse storyline), there really is something special about this book. I love how it was written by two sisters and how they gave readers an opportunity to learn some things about Haiti.
Put this on your tbr list if you enjoy YA fiction!
Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a review copy!
Oh man, you guys. I wanted to love this book. I thought it did some great things, which I'll be talking about shortly, but it also came across as a bit of a disorganized mess. DEAR HAITI, LOVE ALAINE sounded so promising. The heroine, Alaine, goes to a private religious school. She's of Haitian heritage, and her mother is a famous reporter known for her looks and her edge. Everything falls apart when her mother assaults a politician on TV, triggering something called "Slapgate." Naturally, all the ignorant opportunists at her school take this as the perfect occasion for bullying, and when Alaine decides to enact her revenge, her shenanigans result in suspension, and a plane-trip to Haiti to help out her aunt with her nonprofit, as well as relax with her mom, who apparently has Alzheimer's.
I think the biggest problem with this book, for me, is that it doesn't have much of a plot. Alaine gets in trouble and is sent to Haiti to find herself and reprioritize. It actually has a very similar plot to LOVE FROM A TO Z, except that book did a better job tackling chronic/degenerative illness, and the teen romance in it felt not obligatory, but a natural progression of the characters' shared interests and goals. DEAR HAITI, LOVE ALAINE is largely character-driven, but we don't really know much about the other characters beyond what's thrown at us in info-dumps, and the whole family curse thing was weird.
I did like the Haitian rep and how Alaine had natural hair. There's some good commentary buried in here about colonialism and racism, including how donations can actually sometimes hurt the nations they're trying to help (free food is really hard on the income that local farmers make), which might sound counterintuitive at first, but makes sense when you really think about it. I liked Alaine's mom, Celeste, a lot and sympathized with her struggle. I thought it would have been interesting to hear more from her, and wished the book had been written from her perspective. Roselind had such a devastating history but, again, she felt mostly like a vehicle for the whole curse subplot.
For people who like the prankster Meg Cabot-brand of heroines who act out for no reason and embrace the consequences they receive from adults like prizes at a show, you'll probably enjoy DEAR HAITI, LOVE ALAINE. However, if you're looking for something more serious, this book is probably not for you, as it tries a little too hard to be light, given the subject matter. As always, I encourage you to check out the Kindle sample and see for yourself if this book is to your taste.
Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!
This book was amazing!!! The plot was well fleshed out and the locations beautifully described. I loved the different mediums this story was delivered in... hand written letters, emails, texts, blog posts, news articles & journal entries are just some of the ways they reveal the tale. Alaine was strong, funny, sarcastic and completely relatable. A perfect MC. Much love to Maika & Maritza Moulite for my signed ARC received at BookCon. If this is your debut...I am so excited to see what else you two put out there!
This was such a quick and nice contemporary just what I needed after a few fantasy books! I read half of this book in one sitting and could’ve finished it last night if I wasn’t so rude. But I finished this today and really enjoyed this debut. More detail review to come! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I received this book via NetGalley. This did not affect my rating or review.
"Dear Haiti, Love Alaine" follows seventeen-year-old Haitian American Alaine. Alaine lives in Miami with her father and has a famous mother who is a reporter living in Washington, D.C. Alaine is what I think most people would call "too much." She is definitely intelligent and it seems holds some pain over the fact that her mother is barely around due to her job and late breaking stories. Her actions in this book made my head hurt. She does a prank to get back at someone and almost ends up killing another classmate. She gets suspended although she was initially threatened with being expelled. As a way to make amends at her school she is supposed to do an assignment on her family's history in Haiti.
So Alaine was aggravating. She ends up going back to Haiti to stay with her aunt and mother for two months and learns barely anything I think about the history of the country. Instead this book focuses on her mother and aunt's history, a cousin with her own messed up sense of values, and curses. I think that if the authors had just focused on Alaine that would have worked better. I really wish that we had Alaine exploring Haiti and finding out about the history of the country. She works at her aunt's foundation and is crushing on an intern. They have a lot of IMs and texts to each other and she just stumbles on information about her family by people just giving her that information.
I can't say much about the secondary characters because they barely matter in this book. Alaine's father is written so weird as is the mother. We know that they both came from Haiti, but we don't get into why they got divorced. And the authors try to throw a little out there about why Alaine's mother had her go live with her father full-time but it made zero sense and then you throw in family curses and I just didn't care anymore. Due to the writing style we flip flop all over the place and you can barely focus on anyone.
The writing style was not for me. The authors decided to tell this story via Alaine's online journal I think and also included excerpts from her mother's diary, letters between her aunt, mother, texts, newspaper articles, etc. I felt like I was being stuffed with information and not a lot of it made sense. Also certain words or whole paragraphs here and there were in red. Also sometimes the fonts would be really big and then change all over the place. I have no idea why that was and I hope that's just a weird formatting issue with my ARC and is not going to be issued like this. I get why "House of Leaves" did certain things to make the book more immersive for readers. This book is not "House of Leaves."
The book mainly takes place in Miami and Haiti. You don't get a sense of Miami at all and the authors take more care to describe Haiti. I am disappointed though that I am still left with not knowing much about Haiti besides two women's names who kept getting mentioned: Marie-Madeline Lachenais and Marie-Louise Coidavid. I really wish the authors had gone into more of its history and how the country had changed through the centuries when under Spanish, French, and American rule. I also wanted to hear more about how the people in the country spoke French as well as Creole. I was fascinated by that and it was just thrown here and there as an aside.
The ending was a mess. I don't want to get into it, but good grief I don't know what the authors were aiming for in this story. Curses are real?
When it comes to contemporary YA, the voice and the POV are everything. I personally have very little interest left in me for cafeteria drama and such. Dear Haiti, Love Alaine offered me something that I hadn't yet seen in YA, and in a package that appeals to me.
Alaine is the only daughter of divorced parents of Haitian descent. Both her parents are wealthy - her father is a psychiatrist and her absent mother is a famous political reporter. When Alaine's mom, Celeste, becomes the center of a big controversy ("slapgate"!) and when Alaine herself gets into a drama of a slightly different, but still outrageous, kind at school, both Alaine and Celeste travel back to Haiti to lick their wounds.
Like many debut novels, Dear Haiti, Love Alaine tries to do a lot, too much, if you ask me - Haitian history, politics, family curse, voodoo, Alzheimer's, magical realism. Plus, it does so using epistolary format - a collection of diary entries, school projects, emails, texts, letters.
I happen to love this kind of books (although it's been done more effectively elsewhere). And I was enormously entertained by everything that went on in Alaine's life. Learning about Haiti, even though from the POV of a very privileged person, was exciting and new.
Now onto the negative. I've read critical reviews of this novel, and while I don't disagree with the criticisms of messiness, it doesn't bother me. What needs more refection, IMO, is the fact that Dear Haiti, Love Alaine tries to address the issue of class inequality in Haiti, but it fails to truly acknowledge Alaine's and her family's privilege and the extent Haitian "elite's" exploitation of the country's poor population. (Let's be honest, the reward for Alaine's "community survice" in Haiti is entirely undeserved, it's a travesty even). There is a bigger issue inside Dear Haiti, Love Alaine that the authors didn't address head on. Maybe they'll do it better in their next book. I will certainly read it.
Dear Haiti, Love Alaine is a contemporary novel following a girl who is the daughter of divorced Haitian immigrants living in the US, and it's set both in the United States and in Haiti.
I am always looking for novels set outside the US, especially ones written by authors who have lived there or have ties with the country they're writing about, because American books, despite being read (translated and not) worldwide, always prioritize the white American perspective. Dear Haiti, Love Alaine was exactly what I wanted: it's a story about a girl who is the daughter of immigrants as she visits Haiti for the first time and meets the rest of her family, learns more about her family history, and also gets to know both Haiti and her mother more. This book shows Haiti as a place that isn't a stereotype, but a country with its own history, culture, flaws and good aspects.
What stood out to me about this book first was Alaine herself. I loved her narrative voice, the way she uses humor to connect with people and to protect herself at the same time, and I could feel her passion for journalism. And she grows so much during this novel! I also really liked reading about her relationship with her mother, who has been distant for most of Alaine's life, and who has now been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's. The way Alaine tries to deal with that felt very realistic to me, and it was heartbreaking at times.
My feelings on the mixed media format are less positive. On one hand, I loved that this was told through diary entries, parts of school projects, tweets, blog posts and emails. On the other hand, the poor formatting of the eARC meant that at times these were either unreadable or missing, which significantly affected my reading experience.
Another thing that didn't work for me as much as I hoped was the plot. I would have loved this book more had it focused mostly on Alaine and her mother's relationship, but it didn't - there are a lot of side and minor characters (so many that "who is that again" is a reaction I had multiple times during this book) and a lot of side plots, involving embezzlement, a maybe-romance, and a family curse. I also felt that some characters that were relevant in the first half of the novel were barely there in the second, like Alaine's dad (and I liked reading about him), or Alaine's friend, who completely disappears.
Overall, I do recommend this, but I think it's the kind of novel that works better in a physical format.
This book took me surprise and I loved every second of it. It’s incredibly informative and fun and the fact that it’s an own voices book makes it 10x better! Dear Haiti, Love Alaine is about a Haitian girl who informs us all about the beauties and struggles of her country and family (and it may involve a curse XD .)
Alaine Beauparlant is the daughter of two very amazingly talented incredible human beings, which of course means she, at the very least, is going to be talented and amazing as well. She is incredibly smart and ends up doing something at school that is … not so smart lol. While at the same time her mother sort of screws up her career and has to take a trip back to her home, Haiti. Not too long after this happens to her mom, Alaine messes up at school and her dad makes her go live with her mom in Haiti but tries to cover it up as a school project.
While being in Haiti, she realizes that a lot is going on with her mother as well as going on with her country. She is staying with her Tati Estelle who is taking care of her mother and her, and who is also running an app that helps Haitian Children in need.
This book teaches you so much about Haiti, its culture, and its beautiful people. I seriously took in so much information in such a little amount of time but it’s done so well because it’s woven into a wonderful story, that is at times, hilarious yet emotional and heartbreaking. All the elements to an amazing story are included in this book which makes it so easy to fall in love with.
What I Loved:
There’s only one thing about this that I didn’t necessarily love and that was at times the story felt a tad jumbled and rushed but seriously it is a minor complaint. Now what truly made me fly through this book and connect so well is because it’s told in emails and documents which is my fave! I think you can tell so much more about a person in the way they text or write an email, or just conduct themselves on social platforms. I loved this because not only is it in digital correspondence, it’s also in real-time ?? I guess is how you would put it ?? So we get to see Alaine just living her life in Haiti, while at the same time reading about history and culture that she was writing about in school because of the digital aspect to the book lol.
I feel like I’m not really explaining this like I want to but I 100% recommend this book to everyone because it’s OwnVoices, it’s beautiful, and it’s extremely informative.
It comes out on September Third so don’t forget to pick this up once it releases!
Hope y’all have a great day/night and Happy Reading!
Sassy, inquisitive, headstrong, and independent Alaine Beauparlant, is the only child of divorced parents. Alaine lives in Miami, Florida with her psychiatrist father, Jules, while her journalist mother, Celeste, hosts the weekly Sunday political program on television in Washington, D.C. Celeste has a fallout on her show and returns to her homeland in Port-au-Prince, Haiti to stay with her twin sister, Elaine Dupont, the Haitian Minister of Tourism and CEO of Patron Pal. After Alaine has an “incident” leading to being suspended from school, Jules gets the school to agree to send Alaine for her first visit to Haiti to volunteer at Patron Pal under her mother’s, aunt’s, and Jason the intern’s supervision. Patron Pal is an app where sponsors send money and support Haitian children in need. Alaine aspires to be a journalist and to follow in her mother’s footsteps. This is a story of familial relationships, curses and superstitions, Alzheimer’s, and good intentions.
I heard an interview on the radio about the book and then saw the authors, who are Haitian American sisters and alternated in writing the book, at the 2019 Miami Book Fair International. They grew up going to the library every weekend. Kudos to them on their imaginative efforts to bring the Haitian immigrant roots to life!
Why are all the books which have sat on my kindle the longest turning out to be my favourite books so far???
This ya contemporary focuses on Alaine, a seventeen year old girl who is sent to spend a couple months in Haiti after an incident at school. Though I have read some reviews which claim the plot is jumpy, I have to respectfully disagree.
The story is told through mixed media which I LOVE and the plot took twists and turns that I didn’t expect and that really elevated this story for me.
Alaine was funny, warm and a realistic seventeen year old character; I feel that I’ve read a few ya contemporaries that turn their character into something that isn’t a normal character whatsoever!
The secondary characters were well fleshed out, the interweaving plots made sense and resembled a normal life with multiple things going on at once and nothing ever felt forced.
I loved this book and everything about it. No faults here as far as I’m concerned.
I absolutely loved this! I haven't had a reading experience this enjoyable in a while. This YA debut (co-written by sisters!) gave me all the feels, reminding me of Dear Martin. Despite tackling some darker, yet very relevant subject matter, including mental illness, religion, and politics, Alaine had me chuckling every few sentences along the way. Her snark was just naive enough to be received as hilarious as opposed to obnoxious. How could anyone not love this character? 😊
This is a tale of human nature, where nothing is quite what it seems. Alaine is a smart, witty MC who must come to terms with complicated family dynamics (including a heavy dose of drama!) and a life that will never be the same. Steeped in rich Haitian culture and history, family curses, character growth, a charity start-up, and commentary on privilege and sometimes problematic foreign aid, this was truly a literary treat! The amazing Bahni Turpin narrated and I highly recommend the audio! Speaking of treats, I now need to find some Haitian peanut butter. 🤔
Favorite quote: "As you get older, you will come to learn that the vast majority of people will always operate with their own interests at heart."
Aaaaaaggghhhhh it took me so long to read this because I had to stop and learn about Haiti on youtube. I almost booked my flight there, I love this book it was so magical! Ayiti Cherie You’re now on my travel list! I can’t wait to taste pickliz and griot!
After Alaine's school presentation goes very, very wrong, she's shipped off to Haiti. There, she will spend time working at a volunteer immersion project. Staying with her aunt and her mother, who's laying low after her own public incident, Alaine will learn about Haiti, her family's history, and perhaps some devastating truths.
A story of understanding the people who mean the most to you. A tale of learning from the past and making the future better.
Trigger warnings for assault, parental illness, death of a loved one, trauma, grief, colorism, and death of a young child.
Headstrong, confident Alaine was prone to making mistakes. Growing up in the states with her father and missing her mother's presence, she often had to deal with things by herself. However, frustration sometimes got the better of her. I adored how this independent girl learned from her mistakes. Her genuine love of fun shown in not only her wordplay and passion for journalism, but in her playfully sarcastic nature. Alaine's honest, clever voice instantly won my heart as she explored Haiti and her family secrets.
From strengthening frayed bonds, to dealing with family curses and untold secrets, to warming new hearts, Alaine's relationships made her step back and reconsider her future. In light of her mother's diagnosis, it was beautiful to see Alaine truly realize how much she loved her mother and try to repair what they had lost. As she grew further immersed in the dynamics of her family's history, her parents as well as her Aunt Estelle, came alive. While it was clear she came from a family of exceptionally strong women, my favorite side character might have been her dad. Supportive in every way he knew how to be, he was not afraid to be emotional and real with his daughter. Outside of family, Jason, a fellow intern, and someone from her parents' past (whom I won't name because of spoilers) were there to help her understand her family's curse. Alaine and Jason shared something special, but sadly the secret person became a plot device. The supporting cast was full of well drawn, rocky relationships trying to find their footing.
Following Alaine on her trip to Haiti comes a novel of family, love, learning, and understanding. Told in a predominantly epistolary style through texts, journal entries, tweets, blog post and other multimedia formats, this contemporary pulled on all the heartstrings as the repercussions of one family's past made shocking waves in the present. Combining the writing styles of sisters Maika and Maritza Moulite, Alaine's voice flowed seamlessly. I adored her lively family and their heavy, tenderly depicted interactions. Character-driven, this heartfelt debut delved into many side plots that were well written, but unfortunately didn't fuse together cohesively. The journals gave Alaine a deeper view of her family, and this whole book was a chance to see Haiti as a real country, steeped in rich history and culture. It also highlighted the good and the bad aspects of donation and relief efforts for the country as a whole. Dear Haiti, Love Alaine was a reminder to appreciate those we love and make the most of every moment. Lighthearted, informative adventures, honest revelations, and even a bit the supernatural made this debut a treasure.
Are you ready to fall into a world of curses, vodou, and Haitian history? Beneath a stunning cover is a cunning and clever protagonist who will have you laughing at the shenanigans, crying at her family circumstances, and grinning with delight at the adventure that Maika and Maritza Moulite bestow upon their readers. This book was a true delight to read, and one of my favourite books that dealt into cultural family relationships. I honestly felt that this book was transcultural, because I could see a lot of my own family dynamics playing out, showing that sometimes, families aren’t all that different after all. Also, if you’re a big fan of mother-daughter relationship arcs, then you’re definitely in for a touching, if albeit heart-rending story.
This story features Alaine Beauparlant, a Haitian American teenager who’s just landed herself in a heap of trouble after “The Incident”, and has been sent off to her parents homeland of Haiti in an immersion project to learn about and be more respectful of her own cultural roots. Under the careful supervision of her Tati Estelle, she’s hard at work at her aunt’s non-profit organisation, along with the help of her usually absent mother. Her mother also happens to be lying low after her own media fiasco, away from those who are threatening her reputation, while fostering a very devastating secret. Getting to experience a little office flirtation, bonding time with her absent parent, and experiencing her parents homeland for the first time are excellent perks…however, Alaine will also have to navigate her family’s world of secrets, drama, and even a curse to have a whole new understanding of her world.
I think I’ll start off by saying that despite knowing that both Maika and Maritza were involved in the creation of this book, it doesn’t read as two different voices, which was amazing. Alaine was so thoughtful and stubborn, and so very determined to prove herself in any way (even if it spells big trouble for her), that you feel connected to her from the beginning. Her relationship with her father is highlighted as a supportive, but not indulging parent due to her mother’s absence. They also tore down that barrier of parental masculinity that I feel lots of YA novels have, where the dad is this big bad man who won’t cry or emote in any way.
Along with that, the mother-daughter relationship arc was also one that was touching to read. At first, you’re angry for Alaine, because it’s palpable how badly she wants to have that relationship but understanding that her mother has made different choices. However, when you get into the meat and bones of this particular story and start viewing things from the opposite perspective, boy will this book give you all the feelings. Maika and Maritza aren’t afraid to break down those barriers and tackle the heavy subjects, setting of a new world of emotions for our dear Alaine. Much of this story centers around family relationships, but I felt that this one and Alaine’s relationship with Tati Estelle are the ones that are highlighted the most.
The cultural aspect of this book was the one I related to the most. Although I have Latin American roots, I related so much to the interconnectedness of Alaine’s family (all those cousins), as well as growing up as a girl between two worlds. On the one hand, you’re American, being born and raised in the United States, speaking English at school, and learning a different language at home, but with the fear that you also don’t quite fit in within your parents cultural sphere. It hit home for me because they were able to put into words exactly how I’ve felt growing up. I feel like many other readers, especially teen readers that might be first generation American might understand and relate to this narrative very well.
Let’s talk about that family curse for a second. Man did it grow into such an amazing plot point of the story. The story is already littered with little news articles, and Alaine’s diary entries or emails with people, but one of the most striking things to me were the diary entries in the story. They just highlight a certain mysticism about vodou, and how certain choices were made around it. I loved the background into the superstitions of the family and beliefs that were held based on the history of the family. It was so amazing to read. This also goes hand in hand with a fun and drama filled history lesson, that I think readers will have fun with.
I will say that there is a bit of a dark theme surrounding a portion of the story that might affect some readers, and those are themes of child abuse. This isn’t something within the story goes into explicit detail, but if you’re even lightly triggered by this, you might approach this story with caution. I did feel that Maika and Maritza approached this with gentle care, so there is that. There is definitely a light (emphasis on light) romance within the book that I just loved, it brought a fun aspect to this trip to Haiti.
Honestly, I could go on and on about what I loved about this book, but I’ll stop here. I can’t stress this enough, but if you can, please read this book. It’s so heartwarming, and touches on some serious parental relationship themes. The story is fun and carefree and also very serious at the same time. I felt that despite some of the delicate topics, they were handled with grace and careful hands that shaped this novel into something truly wonderful to behold. I’m rating this book a 10/10, and I can’t wait to see what these two sisters come out with next.
─── ･ ｡ﾟ☆: *.☽ .* :☆ﾟ. ─── Dear Haiti, Love Alaine follows Alaine Beauparlant, a successful student with a promising future who ends up shipped off to Haiti to complete an internship and school assignment about her family’s history.
Throughout her time in Haiti Alaine dives deep into her family tree and reads passages from her mother’s old diary recapping stories that she never knew. Along the way Alaine has to grapple with life changes in her family, a bit of romance from the hot intern Jason, and did I mention a centuries old family curse?
Sister Author Duo Maika & Maritza Moulite will take you on a beautiful and enriching adventure into Haiti’s history and have you laughing at Alaine’s amazing voice in this YA Contemporary. ─── ･ ｡ﾟ☆: *.☽ .* :☆ﾟ. ───
Let me start off by saying that this book was absolutely wonderful as well as informative. Alaine is a Senior and for her last project she has to complete a report and she chooses to write about her family’s history. This book is heavy on the Socio-Political Themes, Haitian Culture & History, And heavy on the humor. It was such an easy read to get through because Alaine’s narration kept me focused on the story even when my body was screaming at me to go to sleep.
When a school project goes wrong Alaine is sent to her homeland to repent and research. I loved following her around the Island and I felt like I was walking along with her and her friends & extended family while she helped her Tati Estelle with PATRONPAL an app created to help fund children in need in Haiti. I especially loved falling into a family’s curse that seems to follow them wherever they go and since Alaine feels that she is the only one that can break her curse it was full of mischief.
This story was also eye opening in how smaller countries like Haiti thrive and how the people there absolutely need as much independence as possible even if assistance may be needed from time to time. The research that was put into this book to create a cohesive story was a knockout as well as the insights to how family relations can be. It was a truly authentic experience and I look forward to #OwnVoices reviews on this book!
It’s a book you can read in one sitting and it’s perfect for teens to read as Alaine comes off extremely relatable within her friendships and how she interacts with the adults and authority figures around her. Alaine is not afraid to be her beautiful Black self and she’s definitely not afraid to let her culture be shown. Her heart and want to do more for the people around her made me smile so many times because I truly believe Alaine and I could have been friends in Highschool. This story offered more than it’s fair share of jaw dropping moments with the drama, storyline and characters. Enough of my rambling, go check this book out! I rated it 4/5 stars.
Dear Haiti, Love Alaine is about Alaine (duh) who after presentation trouble (understatement of the year) is sent to Haiti for a new school project. But staying with her aunt and mother sparks Alaine’s curiosity about her family’s history, a history of betrays and injustices, even some family curses (maybe?). As her world starts to change around her, Alaine holds on to these pieces of her history. The past, however, has other plans, and Alaine decides to put an end to this family curse.
I picked this one up for Latinx Heritage Month and I was so curious, already half in love because of THAT cover. And it blew me away. I was sure I was going to like it! But I wasn’t prepared for how much I adored every single sentence. The characters! The story! The relationships! The love and heartbreak and pain and hope! I mean, I finished this book like two months ago? And I’m still tearing up thinking about it.
I LOVED this book. It had strong female characters, plenty of atmosphere details, and a good look at complicating people's assumptions about race, immigrancy, and education. I loved how the authors balanced many forms of writing (like texts and assignments). The voice was so strong that you immediately got into the character. And, I read a lot of YA...I hadn't seen one that used a school assignment to such great effect. Overall, this is an exceptional YA story for anyone who loves strong women. Do not miss this book.
Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Dear Haiti, Love Alaine is the Moulite Sisters' love letter to their dear, dear Haiti and I am happy to hear it won’t be their last because I want more of this!
In Dear Haiti, Love Alaine we are introduced to Alaine, a 17 year old Haitian American living in Miami with her father while her mother works her high profile Television job in DC. Alaine is a confident young lady, she knows exactly what she wants for her future and is willing to work at it. She is sarcastic, funny and rumbustious- not your typical teenager but she is fine with that.
Alaine attends a private school in Miami where a lot of the attendees are very rich and privilege. During one of Alaine’s school project things went left and she is asked to take a leave of absence (not a suspension because you know the family donated to the school over the years so they are afforded this privilege). For her two months absence Alaine will visit live in Haiti and work at her Tati Estelle’s non-profit organization.
Alaine is not sold on living in Haiti but embraces the experience for what is it. She also gets to spend some time with her Mother who is recuperating after having a show down on national television. Alaine makes best use of her time trying to uncover and learn more about Haiti and the family curse she grew up hearing about. This curse will change Alaine in ways she is not prepared for…
First let me say, it is not every day I read a book written by Haitian sisters that flowed seamlessly. I thought it would going to be choppy but Maika and Maritza did a solid job in writing this book together. I loved the character of Alaine, she was believable, real, very interesting and laugh out loud funny at times. I also loved that the authors gave the main character emotional range while making it realistic. A solid job for character development.
I have always had a soft spot for Haiti. I think the World does not give Haiti and Haitians the respect they deserve for being the first free Republic in history and actually fighting for that freedom. With that said, I was so happy that majority of the book was set in Haiti, I learned so much about the culture, I even have a itinerary for when I do visit. I loved hearing about all the historical facts… yoew, Haiti is just so rich with history.
Overall I really enjoyed this book- why not a five star? I felt that the book could have been a bit shorter and tighter. I felt there were a lot of sub-plots and characters that didn’t add to the overall plot but took away from it. I felt the book could have been shortened by 50-80 pages had we focused mostly on Alaine and her core family. I also felt the ending fell apart a little. Regardless, this is a great YA read, that’s packed with history and filled with a character that will keep you entertained! Truly it was a delight reading this!
What I learned reading this book “Jean-Jacques Dessalines: Called for the massacre of Haiti’s white minority, which resulted in several thousand deaths. He became emperor of Haiti in 1804 and was assassinated in 1806. Fun fact: Haiti’s theme song (that is, national anthem), La Dessalinienne, is named after him.”
Dutty Boukman: A slave who was born in Jamaica who eventually became an early leader of the Haitian Revolution. On August 14, 1791, Boukman (along with a vodou priestess named Cécile Fatiman) led the religious ceremony at Bois Caïman that served as the catalyst for the Haitian Revolution.
I can’t tell if this should get four or five stars! I need to just say that I LOVED the first half of this book. It didn’t remind me of the Princess Diaries, but I kept comparing it to that because it’s the only other thing I’ve seen like this. Alaine is SO easy to love. I wish she were my best friend. She is the coolest black girl in the world and I want a whole book just about her first year at college. I love her. I love that she isn’t a goody two shoes and that she gets into trouble and is funny and so black and ugh, even “mundane” things were fun with her. I love her voice. Could’ve read that forever.
For me, things started to go off the rails when she went to Haiti and we learned more about stuff I can’t share if I don’t want to spoil. We needed plot stuff, so I get it, but I feel like it was so off the rails that it took me out of what made me love the book originally. It kind of seemed like two different stories. I loved the more contemporary aspects, not the supernatural, very darkly dramatic ones. I would’ve rather seen her just deal with family stuff and such. But it’s a matter of personal taste.
I didn’t feel myself connected to the book toward the second half. I just did. The twisty, outrageous plot stuff wasn’t as interesting. I guess it took my focus away from Alaine and she was the reason why I loved it. I love her dad, very soft and sensitive and caring and lovely, and even the strained relationship with mom. The emphasis on the person and her issues and thoughts and struggles at school and desires and love of natural hair videos was my favorite.
Anyway. I would love an Alaine novel set in college. I really liked this. I’m so excited to see what the authors come up with next.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
Told from mostly emails, reports, articles, newspapers, and notes, Dear Haiti, Love Alaine is a story about making sense of our heritage and family. It's lyrical and what you will fall in love with is Alaine's personality. She is kind, incredibly clever, dramatic, and honest. In the way we can only be when we're writing to others and in our own memories. There's an openness from Alaine that keeps you reading. Whether it's envy or curiosity, Alaine will hook you.
What's more, Alaine's journey about researching Haitian history, and her own family's past, is an adventure. But it's more than that - introspective, deeply emotional, and intimate. Her fears that she is afraid of claiming her heritage, for fear of being 'not enough'. It's easy to fall in love with Alaine's charm, her hilarious jokes and drama. But it's as easy to fall in love with her honesty and vulnerability - her hurt feelings and disappointments.
Alaine's a Haitian-American teen trying to balance life as a child of divorced parents. When a school presentation goes horribly wrong, she's sent to Haiti and takes on an internship at her aunt's charitable app. While there, she gets deep into a centuries-old family curse and must decide what's worth fighting for. I loved Alaine's character - smart, hilarious, earnest, and brave - and how the text uses her narrative writings as well as emails, text conversations, flyers, etc, which offer a fuller perspective of the story. I learned so much about Haiti and have so many new historical figures and cities to explore. All in all, a fun read!
After a school presentation goes drastically awry, Alaine is shipped to Haiti to spend quality time with her aunt and her estranged mother, also newly exiled to the country of her birth after her own outburst. But there are secrets in Haiti that Alaine can't help but unravel, secrets that dip into the past and extend into the future. And she's going to find them out.
Where do I start with this review?
There is just soooo much that was packed into this book: Haitian history, politics, corruption here, there and everywhere, family, family love, dementia, conspiracy, family curses, betrayal, fake pig's blood, snark, estranged family, racism, high school, colorism, embezzlement, sexism, baking, and that's just the highlights!
At times it was a bit overwhelming to read all of the different threads and subplots woven through the book, but I'm happy to note that most everything is managed to be nicely resolved—or at least set on a good course—by the end. Because for a while there I was like, "whoa this is messy."
But life is messy and complicated, and so is this book.
Alaine is a wonderful and wonderfully frustrating main character, because she's very confident and, like a confident teenager, tends to not really think through her actions to find fault in herself. It was fun to read, but also like, you done fucked up, just own it already. Anywho, it was refreshing to read someone who was no snarky or sassy for snark's sake, but because it was intrinsically who they were as a person, and to have a YA character act like a teen.
Alaine is not perfect.
She makes mistakes. Big ones.
But she learns and grows and grieves and learns that moving on and accepting and finding new paths is the only way forward.
I loved reading about Haiti and Haitian culture and history, mostly because I'd never though about it before other than thinking about how impoverished Haiti is (and also of the devastating earthquake, but that's mainly because that was all that was on the news and because my unit sent Marines down there to support the clean-up efforts).
But this book is about highlighting how the stereotypes of Haiti aren't the full story. That the country has had a long and storied history as the first country to free itself of colonialist slavery and rise up. That it's working on breaking free of the stereotypes and raising its people up. That the United States and its "relief actions" might help the impoverished and hungry, but tend to cause ripple effects that ruin Haitian small business owners, farmers and other people by making Haiti dependent upon outside support instead of being able to stand on its own feet and thrive. So being helped by being fed, but having one leg knocked out from under them while getting food. You can survive, but you can't do it by yourself anymore.
I also did like that the drastic dichotomy of haves and have-nots in Haiti was mentioned. It's not all poverty. There is an elite in Haiti who have many things, and there are the ritzy tourist beaches in Haiti that focus on the natural beauty of the country instead of the crushing poverty elsewhere.
Enough on Haiti.
The characters were also vibrant, alive and fantastic. I loved Alaine's father, who took on the challenge of being a single dad and professor and was damned good at it. And even Celeste, the driven career woman who set aside her own life and personal happiness for her ambition and drive as a journalist (I love how this was portrayed, and how the double standards between career-focused woman and career-focused men, particularly women of color, was shown). And Tati Estelle, who I was on the fence about because I knew in my gut that something just wasn't right with PatronPal, because c'mon—how often do these types of things turn out to be scams?? (this is not really a spoiler, but perhaps some misdirection)—but who I ended up loving for her own snark and sense of humor in handling Alaine's all-directions-all-the-time-questions-and-thought-process.
Anywho, to sum up: there's a lot going on in this book, making it at times feel disconnected. Like, is it going to focus on the struggles of being a smart, outspoken Black girl in America? Or will it focus on solving the family curse? Are we centered on family and dealing with a devastating chronic disease, or are we focused on being an intern at a thriving nonprofit? Are we going internally on character and family dynamics, or the entire history and political climate in Haiti? Are we doing American or Haitian politics?
But for all of the lack of focus, Alaine's voice shines through and carries the narrative thread. With her connecting these often disparate pieces, the book ends nicely and kept me very interested throughout.
Even if it does turn out to end in the tropiest of tropes: as being a school assignment (also not a spoiler).
I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review, but listened to the audiobook from the library, which is narrated by the amazing Bahni Turpin (seriously, listen to her work! She's my favorite narrator).
I love exploring new cultures, so having the opportunity to pick up Dear Haiti, Love Alaine was absolutely thrilling for me!
This novel follows the lovely Alaine as she gets sent to Haiti to fulfill a school project. Along the way she helps out her Tati's PATRON PAL app/company, meets a cute guy, learns who her real friends are, and deals with some large, life altering issues. Oh, and did I mention this book felt so darn real?!
It was a true gift to receive the opportunity to read this book. The authors make Alaine feel like a real person and present this book in a really unique matter. Emails, letters, postcards, diaries, text messages and so many different mediums of communication are present in this novel! All of these mediums make it so easy to jump in and out of the book and I felt like I lost nothing! It truly was a marvelous feat and it makes me want more from these lovely sisters and their writing abilities.
The big standout for this novel is Haiti. Obviously, it's in the title, but Maika and Maritza make it feel like you're there. The cultures and traditions are presented so beautifully and naturally. I didn't feel like anything was forced, it felt so REAL. It's hard sometimes - being a Canadian who has only visited the U.S.A and Canada because I don't know what other places are like. Sometimes reading a book like this, you get caught up and wonder if the authors actually knew what they were talking about. But this book? It read so wonderfully and you could tell the authors weren't just making up what they thought Haiti was like. I LOVE it when that happens.
The other lovely standouts of this book are: 1. Alaine's sassiness is legit how I felt as a teenager. She did have some worrisome moments (like the reason she was sent to Haiti to begin with), but she had the teenage angst we all had back in the day. Other words you might use to describe her are: feisty, fierce, and fabulous! She's such a strong lead and she has flaws which makes her more lovable. She's no Mary Jane/Mary Sue! 2. Jason, Estelle, Roseline and our large assortment of characters didn't feel like background characters. They were used effectively and written in a way that made them have a point to being there. 3. Alzheimer's. Medical issues SUCK, but having a book that shows the good and the bad sides of these diseases is PERFECTION. This book wasn't just 'boo hoo Alzheimer's', it also showed the hope people can have. 4. The relationship between Alaine and her parents made me feel really connected to her. I had a parent that worked more than I wanted too and I am sad to say I lost a lot of time with them. Seeing that exact feeling put into a book (but have a more happy ending) made me have butterflies and feel really affectionate towards this novel. Maika and Martiza connected with teenage me SO HARD with this plot thread. 5. PATRON PAL. I'm always down for a plot line that brings up actual, real-life issues and presents them in a manner that makes sense. How can we help people? Make an app! Donate! Help people who need help! This book also presents helping poorer countries/nations in a really smart way - we want to provide them a sustainable way to pull themselves back up and take care of themselves, not just give them money forever and wish them luck. I'm glad they pointed that out in this book because it's a REALLY important lesson for people to learn.
I would love to hear the thoughts of reviewers who are Haitian, Haitian-American or have lived in Haiti. I think this book is pretty darn swell, but my background isn't of this culture. One thing that I hope comes out with this book is more people want to read about other cultures. Books like these make me want to know and learn more!
Do I have any negatives? Yes. I would have liked a couple of more chapters to see what happened after the project, but the book wasn't set up that way. I really grew to love these characters and I wanted a little more time with them. Other than that, my negatives are non-existent. I think this book is unique, beautiful, and full of stories that need to be heard. I truly respect these authors and love that there are books like this out there. We need more authors and books like this.
Also, the cover? Oh-my-gosh it is stunning! Having a physical copy of this book in my house is a real gem for me! It's eye popping and gets your attention but at the same time it's really fabulous and subtle. I LOVE IT!
Five out of five stars.
I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.
1) The story-telling through letters. This book was really unique with its epistolary style, and it brought Alaine's character to life.
2) You learn some great things about Haiti. I mean, how often do we see books take place in Haiti? Not often. Plus the Haitian-American rep, showing us more about the culture rather than how it's constantly portrayed as just a poor country.
3) So many kick-ass characters. Alaine's mom being a world-known journalist? Her aunt one of the most influential people in Haiti? All unique, but we see the family resemblance between them all.
4) It pulls at your heartstrings. Alaine goes though a lot. She messes up. She messes up more than once, and our heart is pulled is many different ways as does her. It's a messy, emotional, ride, and we're going along with it.
5) Curses. Whether you believe in them or not, it's woven into the story where it's sure to affect you.
6) Mother-daughter relationships. Rocky ones. Growing up in a broken home is more and more common, and seeing a family deal with that and come to terms with other things going on within them adds many more layers to the story.
You may be thinking, 400+ pages for a contemporary? Well, that sounds like longer than necessary for many contemporaries but don't get me wrong, this book works it. Due to it's differently story telling methods, many pages fly by. And for the longer sections, there's always something keeping us on the edge of our toes waiting to see what's going to happen. I felt like I really didn't sit down to read too much while reading this, but it was easy to get so into it when I was reading that it just flew by.
I really loved the character of Alaine. She was really snarky, and had an attitude. She was definitely not perfect, she was flawed, but she was likeable for those reasons.
My only real issue was at times the format of this book made it a bit confusing with time periods and a bunch of other characters being added in without as much prelude to them. There could be a lot going on between the different time periods that we get during this story.
Overall, it was a fun read with entertaining characters. There was some love interest stuff, but it never took the forefront which was nice. The family story is the main story happening here, and it's the story that's strongest in the book.
*ARC received from HCC Frenzy for an honest review*
I really enjoyed this. It’s well-rounded and has everything: well-developed family relationships, interesting cultural history, delicious food, family curses, mean girls, and a good love interest who doesn’t take over the plot. Alaine is realistic and fun as a narrator; her voice is engaging and though her cleverness gets tiresome and over-the-top, it’s as you’d expect in a teen. Her hopefulness and sorrows make you root for her, and her confidence is refreshing without becoming idealized.
I still haven’t encountered many second-generation immigrant stories in fiction, much less relatable ones. I really appreciated seeing in-betweenness represented in Alaine’s experience: on a macro-level, as a child of immigrants, for whom life can be all about ethnic heritage or have zero to do with it, depending on the day; then on a more granular level, the double-bind Alaine feels of being a minority in the States (for whom microaggressions and being an unwitting ambassador for your entire ethnicity are a routine part of life) and an outsider in your supposed homeland (where everyone can spot your Americanness miles away). Though I wasn’t familiar with Haitian culture, the larger family dynamics and idiosyncrasies were super relatable and filled me with glee. The added layer of Alaine’s experience as part of a well-to-do family in a country still primarily known for its poverty was also thoughtful and resonant.
Very minor quibble: all the tech and pop-culture references will probably date the book prematurely, but it’s fun to read a book set in the current online culture (lol at “Slackr”).