Dear Haiti, Love Alaine

Inkyard. Sept. 2019. 384p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781335777096; ebk. ISBN 9781488051333.
Gr 7 Up–Catholic school senior Alaine, an independent and sometimes even iconoclastic student with a reputation for shaking up the nuns, has grown up close with her Tati Estelle, her mother’s twin in Haiti, through email. Alaine resents the long distance relationship with her famous television journalist mother, Celeste. After her parents divorced, Alaine stayed in Miami with her psychiatrist father, also a Haitian transplant. For a class assignment, Alaine delves into Haiti’s revolutionary history to produce a shocking presentation with disastrous results. In place of suspension, she takes an internship in Haiti with Patron Pal, her aunt’s non-profit app to benefit the country’s economically challenged kids. The bonus is spending time with her jet-setting mother, also forced to take a time out after an on-air humiliation and health scare. Alaine sees the privilege of her wealthy family in Haiti, descendants of its founders, and the disturbing poverty of others as she tries to understand her relationship with her mother, her family’s belief in a revenge curse that brings them misfortune, and how immigrants never completely leave their countries of origin behind. The novel, told in multiple formats, includes postcards, diary entries, texts, tweets, diagrams, lists, and more to capture’s Alaine’s coming of age. The sisters Moulite have realistically created in Alaine an energetic, smart first-generation teen in a quest to understand herself via family.
VERDICT A strong offering mixing a romance, mystery, and adventure in a Caribbean travelogue

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