Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika and Maritza Moulite
Published by Inkyard Press on September 3rd, 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
“It comforted me that I could see pieces of myself in her writing — how she dug into writing a full story even if it was just for her eyes.”
*ARC received via Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review
Oh, man. I haven’t been this disappointed in an ARC since Romanov by Nadine Brandes.
Alaine is a whip smart seventeen-year-old who loves to chronicle her life in her diary. Every moment, every feeling, every incident that happens in her life. Unfortunately, her life falls apart when her mother, a famous journalist, assaults a politician on live TV, triggering something called “Slapgate.”
Alaine tries her best to keep her head up while she endures bullying after the situation, and decides to enact her revenge through a school presentation. But it goes horribly wrong and she’s suspended from school. Her dad decides to ship her off to Haiti to help out her aunt with her non-profit, and to figure out what exactly is going on with her mom.
Let’s start off with the good things. I enjoyed the inclusion of multimedia in the book. It kind of reminded me of Night Film by Marisha Pessel. The diary entries, newspaper clippings, transcriptions of interviews, letters, postcards, emails, and text messages really added another layer to the story. I also like how everything was distinguished by different text, font, and styles. It helped to move the story forward without everything being an info dump via Alaine’s entries.
I also give props to both sisters for making their writing seamless. I often find that with books with multiple authors, it’s really easy to distinguish who wrote what chapter. It also brings back bad memories of university projects where the 4 or 5 of us had to make our writing appear seamless in essays.
I’ll be honest and say that I’m pretty ignorant to the history of Haiti. So I found that aspect to be very interesting. I learned about the key figures in Haiti’s history as well as learning about some of the more forgotten (mostly women) players in shaping Haiti.
However, I was so close to DNFing this. I found myself incredibly bored from the very beginning. It really felt like this book was going nowhere. Too much time was spent before Alaine was shipped off to Haiti. There was a lot of telling and not showing throughout the book. And a lot of info dumps instead of the reader being able to witness the scene play out.
I also found the lack of depth to the secondary characters to be very annoying. Readers are told what kind of personality traits characters have without being able to experience them on the page through dialogue or action. Celeste, Alaine’s mother, was by far the most interesting character. I wish we had seen things from her perspective instead.
There’s definitely some great commentary buried underneath about colonialism and racism, but it was hard to access because precedence was given to the curse subplot and the romance. Both of which, to me, were executed very sloppily. It felt out of place and like it was written just to fill up pages.
I’ve just reached a point where I’m no longer fascinated by heroines who act out for no reason and who prank because they have nothing better to do. There are better heroines out there to read about.
And if anybody has any suggestions for books relating to Haiti, please send them my way! Dear Haiti, Love Alaine did spark that interest for me.