Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite (432 pages)
A Deep-Dive Into Haiti With A Touch Of Magical Realism
In Dear Haiti, Love Alaine, Alaine’s never been to Haiti, the country where her parents grew up. But after an incident at school leads to her suspension, her dad works out a deal for Alaine to spend two months in Haiti on what the school calls a “spring volunteer immersion project.” All Alaine has to do is write a story that’s equal parts Latin American history and creative writing by the end of her experience. Under the watchful eye of her mom (who’s hiding in Haiti too, after a much more public incident), Alaine spends time with family, volunteers at her aunt’s non-profit, dives into Haitian history and culture, and learns devastating news that has her going the extra mile to remove an ancient family curse.
Alaine’s Humour And Strength Take The Lead
Alaine’s a character who isn’t afraid to tell it like it is. She’s bright and proud, with sharp takes that made me laugh on more than one occasion. I loved how easily and thoroughly her voice radiated through her “story” (the school-assigned half-history, half-creative writing project). But once Alaine travels to Haiti, the book takes a different shape. With the help of letters and journal entries, the story splits focus between what happened in generations past and what’s happening now. While the family history is intriguing, Alaine felt further away from me. Her sharp takes and strong voice were still present, just to a lesser degree. Even so, the letters, journal entries, lists, postcards, forms, and more kept the ever-evolving tale moving quickly toward a surprising ending.
The book is crafted around family history and drama, making for an intriguing generational tale mixed with mystery and magical realism in the form of a curse. I found it refreshing how human nature and a distinct dose of reality accompanied the magical aspect of the story. Also, through Alaine, her mother, aunt, and family at large, I learned a lot about Haiti and the Haitian people. This is another novel that didn’t only provide an escape, but also taught me something about the world.
The Bottom Line: 4/5 Brookie Stars
Dear Haiti, Love Alaine is an originally-crafted, smart, and insightful story about a bold girl and her family’s history in Haiti. Take a dive into this one if you love stories that span generations, appreciate history, and adore characters who don’t pull their punches.
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Jamie Mitchell is a writer, library assistant, former bookseller, and all-around lover of the written word. She’s currently working on her fifth novel, and if you’re wondering where the other four are, they’re safe on her laptop and in need of rewriting. She lives in Indianapolis with her husband, and enjoys traveling, bookstagramming and experimenting with gluten-free flours.
Favourite book: Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Favourite brunch spot: 1823 Bakehouse