Title: Dear Haiti, Love Alaine
Authors: Maika and Maritza Moulite
Genre: YA, Cultural, contemporary fiction
Is this book part of a series? No.
Publish Date: September 3, 2019
How did I receive my copy? I received an eARC from Netgalley and Harlequin Teen in exchange for an honest review. My thanks.
When a school presentation goes very wrong, Alaine Beauparlant finds herself suspended, shipped off to Haiti and writing the report of a lifetime…
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.
I am going to start my review by explaining that not only did I get an advanced reader copy of this book, but I got it in eBook format…. and I read most of my eBooks from my phone even though I have a tablet because it’s easier to cart around. Any issues I found with the pagination and style choices in this book may not be an issue for anyone buying the paper copy. Now then, with that said…. let’s get started.
I find it amazing that two authors, sisters, wrote this book together and made it seem like it was one. There were no abrupt shifts in character or narrative voice. Word choices and phrasing remained the same throughout. I do appreciate that. The characters themselves were amazing and I adored them. It was easy to feel for each of these characters, to root for them and want them to succeed in everything. Celeste and Estelle were both very well done, I actually really liked how they interacted, and how Celeste’s illness was portrayed. It was messy and imperfect…. and completely in character. Alaine is another character that I loved- smart mouthed and a tad over-dramatic, she gets herself into scrapes. She’s proud, loyal, and bull-headed. I love her.
I also have to give props for the way the authors incorporated different techniques into the book. You have letters, chat, email, post cards, diary entries and school assignments here, as well as Alaine’s narrative. It’s an interesting idea, and certainly made the book more fun. Unfortunately I feel like the execution was messy. I won’t get into the areas that I assume will be fixed upon publication (odd pagination and misplaced sentences/ paragraphs) and will only highlight the issues I found that seem to be the purposeful.
The font changes…. a lot. Color, size, sometimes it’s bold and sometimes italics…. There are some moments where I feel like this was placed in order to tell that something was a different median- like email or a hand written note. But we are always told that these things are coming, so using such devices seems unnecessary and only makes it harder for those reading in eBook format. You see, some of the words will be in this color and sometimes not. There was one time where the color changed in the middle of a word! Add to this, some of the pieces will be in normal font size, some half font, and one area was four times larger than normal making me change my font size on my app constantly. This is completely unnecessary and actually makes me mad. I do understand that it won’t be an issue for the hard copy- you don’t have to do anything special for a paperback…. but not all of us read paper books anymore. I probably buy fifty to seventy books a year easy- that’s right, not library rentals, and not books given to me. I have a hard time letting books go, and a very small home that I share with my husband and two cats. If every book I bought was paper we would have a serious problem!
Ugh! Where was I? Oh yes. Obviously this book has a lot going for it. It has fantastic characters, a great premise, it’s a fun fast read that allows you a peek into Haitian culture and history. These are all pluses. Add to this fact that there are some really strong females to look up to, and serious character growth being shown by the main character, and I feel like it would be good for a lot of teens to read. My only issue is that the actual execution- pagination, etc… well, there were some questionable choices here. Save yourself a headache and buy the paper copy, that’s what I am going to do. For me, this is a three star book with an extra star for creativity. I loved it, and I highly recommend it… but it was just a little messy to me.
On the adult content scale, there’s some drinking and language. Nothing major… it’s definitely geared toward teens and I would have no issue handing this to a younger teen. Let’s give it a two.
The book comes out on September 3rd! Are you ready?