Dear Haiti, Love Alaine
In their debut novel, Dear Haiti, Love Alaine, sisters Maika and Maritza Moulite tell the story of Alaine Beauparlant, a smart, sarcastic, keenly observant 17-year-old Haitian-American high school senior who lives in Miami with her father, Jules. After a disastrous performance on a school presentation at the prestigious private school she attends, Alaine avoids expulsion by agreeing to spend the last two months of her final semester as a volunteer in Haiti. Arriving in Haiti, Alaine joins her Tati (Aunt) Estelle, who is serving as the Haitian Minister of Tourism, and her mother, Celeste, a successful journalist who is divorced from her father and suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. At first, Alaine resents her banishment to her parents’ island homeland. Over time and with the encouragement of her Tati Estelle, however, she becomes increasingly fascinated with the language, culture and history of Haiti and, in the process, forms a deep personal bond with her mother, who had remained distant from her in the past. Along with the rich supply of historical information, there’s also plenty of action and adventure, as Alaine struggles to reverse a 200-year curse that she believes threatens her family, narrowly escapes drowning during a raging storm at sea, and experiences the tragic death of one of her new friends on the island. Rather than relying on a conventional first-person or third-person narrative, the Moulite sisters piece together the coming-of-age tale using a diverse group of documents, including diary entries, newspaper articles, emails, postcards, school transcripts, and a collection of mysterious letters written by Alaine’s great-great-great-great grandmother. Actress Bahni Turpin does a fine job of pulling the whole story together in the voice of a confused, defiant but ultimately good-natured teenage girl struggling to come to grips with the world around her.
David Shirley ©2020 Parents’ Choice
David Shirley’s recent nonfiction titles include A History of Brooklyn Bridge Park and Fix It Leroy! His YA biographies, Every Day I Sing the Blues: The Story of B. B. King and Satchel Paige: Baseball Legend were honored as the New York Public Library’s Best Books for Teens.