- Maika & Maritza Moulite (Sisters)
- Debut, Stand alone
- Genre: YA Contemporary
- Heritage: Haitian-American (*waves Haitian Flag*)
- IG: @maritzamoulite, @maikamoulite; www.maikaandmaritza.com
- Release: 9/3/2019 (Go get it NOW!)
- Publisher: inkyard press
- Favorite character: It’s a tie between Alaine and her mother, they’re like mirror images of each other, stubborn, willful, snarky and super dope!
- Favorite Quote: (Or in this case, quoteS) “(Seriously, I’ve done so much adulting these past few weeks I’ve been looking into retirement options.)”-Alaine…well, I’ll be damned if that isn’t how I feel every day! “I followed her suggestion to kiss the air and give each of her relatives’ cheeks a little bump.”-Alaine about greeting her friend Tatiana’s family (they are also Haitian)…one of the things I hate the most when going to someone’s house is this greeting… I don’t like people enough for that but I have home training (Grandma, Grandpa, Dad, If you are reading this, I give you all actual kisses on your cheeks, I promise I’m not a savage…Love Y’all!)! There are so many more statements I loved but I’m not going to give away more, read the book & find your own favorite quotes!
Alright, how do I kick this off…hmmmm? *Taps chin* I have to start by saying that I loved Dear Haiti, Love Alaine so flipping much…I loved it so much that I purchased multiple copies after finishing it (as a receipt, see picture above) & I know I will purchase more in the future! The last time I purchased multiple copies of a book was Children of Blood And Bone over a period of time but I’m definitely on track to purchase more copies than I did of CBB (I purchased like 7 copies). I purchased a copy for my grandparents (fun fact, my grandpa is a retired librarian), just to drive home the point that I really loved DHLA!
As you may or may not know, I’m half Haitian (*Biggie Smalls voice* If you don’t knowwwwwwww, now you knowwwww baybahbaby) so when I saw this book shouted out, it was instantly placed on my anticipated reads list. I missed the ARCs but I knew I was buying this book. As I read, DHLA proved why I was looking forward to it and why it was worth the wait but even more so, it became deeply personal for me. I grew up around my father’s side (the Haitian side) of the family, most holidays as well as lots of free time spent with them (my grandpa has attended every graduation of mine, he represented for my grandma who could not travel) and yet, I didn’t learn as much about the rich history of Haiti as I would’ve liked to and not to mention the language (I understand a little but I’m going to change that) nor have I been there (something I feel disappoints my Haitian grandma & you never want to do that so I must change that as well).
As a mixed kid (as previously stated in my post about Permanent Record), it bothered me that I was lacking in this arena but DHLA lit a fire under my ass after it broke me (my therapist thinks seeing it as enlightening rather than breaking is better way of putting it), made my eyes leak but also helped put me back together. I’m proud to be of Haitian descent, to have blood that runs through my veins of such a resilient & strong people and to have ancestors that would never let me forget the stock that I come from… This book reminded me of that as the acknowledgement of that part of myself had become dormant in my mind (but not my heart). I cried for like 20+ minutes after reading the acknowledgements though I did not expect to…this is because that piece of myself needed to be seen, felt and heard (well, in this case read; #RepresentationMatters). So so so so so many thanks to Maritza and Maika for that gift (I’m listening to Kompa as I write this :0), you should pull some up on youtube or the Kompa/Zouk Spotify playlist as you read this).
Enough about me, let’s talk about Alaine! Ole’ girl is HILARIOUS! She’s intelligent/a know it all, sarcastic (she spoke my language so beautifully), slightly awkward around boys (me too Alaine, me too), creative, a problem solver and determined. Though she didn’t always demonstrate it, Alaine also had grace…how she didn’t end up in juvie dealing with certain classmates is beyond me because I would be in prison rather than my apartment typing this right now (I really wanted to crawl into the book and snatch a few wigs y’all)…but in Alaine’s case, thank goodness for divine intervention (Baby Jesus wrapped in fleece) and a hyper vigilant Haitian Father that she wasn’t fated for that ending!
Another thing to note is Alaine’s love for peanuts & food (my grandpa used to make a chicken dish with peanuts he imported from Haiti that was everything to me but that was BV-Before Vegan [I will find a vegan way to make that dish some day])…Haitian food is amazing, especially djon djon/black rice (my favsies)… I feel like when it is home cooked, it’s a means of showing love & care, it was for my grandpa (but he’s passing the torch, he’s 93 y’all); I feel like Alaine captured that perfectly in how she spoke about food. I love how Alaine described food with such fondness in the details she gave, I could see it in my mind & could smelled it which triggered memories of my grandpa in the kitchen & my grandma asking if we ate (I seriously love my grandparents, if you haven’t noticed by now). When Alaine talked about her mom cooking/baking & throwing down or criticizing, she also made me think of my mom in the kitchen (my mom is Trini but moms/aunts/grandmas in the kitchen is like a universal language)… Basically this book felt like a love letter to family as well… like a heart beat that sounds melodic and comforting in its presence.
Alaine’s sense of humor, how she wrote and how she responded to people & situations reminded me a lot of myself at her age and now (aye, I’m still growing even though I’m technically a grown ass woman *shrugs*). Like I said, Alaine is hella funny and I laughed a whole lot throughout this book. I loved how she interacted with the people around her as well as her surroundings. When she was in Haiti, it was like a newborn seeing for the first time and since I haven’t been (yet), it was the same for me. As she described the sounds that she experienced, I felt just as overwhelmed as she seemed to be (this is why I wear headphones all the time out in these skreets…New York is hella loud y’all). I experienced it all as if I was standing right next to her!
There were various ways in which Alaine interacted with others such as emails, phone/text as well as in person. I really enjoyed how she communicated with her dad in various ways especially when he baked (who doesn’t love a man who can bake?!) and there is a hilarious text between them that had me rollin’ (read the book to see it). You can also see the different dynamics between Alaine and her mom, her dad, her aunt, etc. It’s really interesting how she communicates and how free she may feel in her expression based upon who she was speaking with. My favorite interactions are between Alaine and her Tante (aunt) Estelle, how her aunt would check her by bringing the receipts (I could feel the mic drops happening in my Spirit when she did that) but it was still very much the “cool” aunt and her favorite niece accompanied by the two finger tap on the shoulder vibe.
I loved and appreciated that there are different mediums throughout the book such as tweets, articles, letters, historical documents along with Alaine’s first hand account. With DHLA being co-authored, everything is seamless in how it reads, it felt as if one person wrote Alaine and the voices of others are distinctly different as if more than two people wrote them (as they should be…it would be weird in a Stepford Wives–Children of the Corn type way if all the voices were singular)…what I’m getting at is that there is no way to tell who wrote what because Maika & Maritza’s voices flowed together so beautifully. Each medium added to the experience, building rich layers in Alaine’s world, piecing together what is impacting Alaine and how it is impacting her without being super obvious (my jaw dropped a few times as the lightbulbs went off in my head). I enjoyed the letters the most since there is something so personal (to me) about the formatting of letters. Seriously, I just think this book was masterfully written!
There aren’t enough words in English, French or Kreyol that could express how much I loved this book. I learned new things about Haiti & it affirmed what it means to BE Haitian… Dear Haiti, Love Alaine was hysterical, heartwarming and it reconnected me to the pride of being Haitian. I seriously cannot say enough good things about this book. It was such a beautiful love letter to Haiti (#AyitiCherie), the ancestors and the people who are SO MUCH more than what the world thinks they are because of circumstances beyond their control & how those circumstances have been presented. Haitians are a people of strength, resilience, spirit & pride and there is so much Beauty in that…I hope that when people pick up this book (with this stunning Black girl on the cover), they feel that as they read Dear Haiti, Love Alaine. If you don’t have this book…*shouting emoji* GET IT NOW! If you have it but haven’t read it yet, move it to the top of your TBR ASAPually! Bon lekti (Happy Reading)!