Book Review: Dear Haiti, Love Alaine

Alaine Beauparlant is a headstrong Haitian American seventeen year old from Miami, Florida. She’s the daughter of one of the most prolific TV reporters in the nation, Celeste Beauparlant and attends the ultra exclusive  Saint Catherine de’Ricci Academy. Her parents are divorced and her mother’s skyrocketing career means that Alaine lives with her father, Jules. She’s just trying to survive senior year, her frigid relationship with her mother, and annoying classmates.

But then “the incident(s?)” happen and everything changes.

Alaine and Celeste both have very public meltdowns that have everyone talking. Celeste slaps a US senator on national television while Alaine has a mini scandal of her own. To escape the noise, they leave to Haiti and stay with Celeste’s sister Estelle. There, a series of revelations and secrets jumpstart an adventure to save the future of Alaine’s family.

What secrets you ask? Well….

SPOILERS: DON’T READ IF YA DON’T WANNA KNOW MAJOR PLOT POINTS

In Haiti, Alaine learns that her mother has been behaving erratically because she has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers. It’s shocking and Alaine tries to make sense of it all by embarking on a journey to break a supposed curse her mother had been a victim of when she was a teenager. Although Alaine is a lighthearted narrator, it’s heartbreaking to read her pain as she realizes the pieces of her mother that are slipping away won’t come back.

SPOILERS OVER

One of my favorite things to read in books is the relationships between mothers and daughters. At it’s heart Dear Haiti, Love Alaine examines not only the bond between Alaine and her TV journalist mom Celeste, but the bond both of these women have to Haiti. Haiti is the motherland and the ancestral home that greets both of these wayward daughters back. It was very interesting to see the growth of Alaine and Celeste on these parallel journeys throughout the novel. In the end, they both learn that remembering the past is important for the future.

I loved seeing Haiti through not only Alaine’s eyes but Celeste’s. Their different perspectives of the country really helped emphasize the difference between native and first gen immigrants going back to the homeland.

Alaine is hilarious and is a child of the digital age, so if internet talk isn’t your thing you might not enjoy as much. I loved seeing her reference pop culture because it added depth to personality and essence as a character. She’s fluent is social media and it was super fun to read the story through a variety of different formats on the page.

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