You know those books where you will never be able to remember them without remembering one specific moment? That’s me with Dear Haiti, Love Alaine. I remember the open heartedness, kindness, and enthusisam of both Maika and Marita at Book Expo.
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.
(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.
The past comes back around, threatens to repeat itself, and how can we face it? There’s plenty of recipes and cooking/baking for the foodies out there! But Dear Haiti, Love Alaine is more than her honest and hilarious narration. It’s about when we can get stuck in our own headspace and problems. The differences in privilege, paths diverged, and our desperation to hold onto the people we love.