(Inkyard Press/HarperCollins) (Lydi'Ann Mary)

Book Excerpt: 'Dear Haiti, Love Alaine' by Maika and Maritza Moulite

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In the new novel Dear Haiti, Love Alaine (out now from HarperCollins/Inkyard Press), debuting authors (and sisters) Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite tell the story of a seventeen-year-old Haitian American from Miami who finds herself shipped off to Haiti for a “spring volunteer immersion project” after an embarrassing incident at her school – alongside her mother, who’s in the midst of a much more public meltdown of her own.

That incident has just occurred in this excerpt; Alaine’s mother, Celeste, was supposed to speak at Alaine’s Career Day but has escaped to Haiti. Her daughter is, to put it mildly, distressed. We’re pleased to present this excerpt from this marvelous book by these talented newcomers; New Yorkers can also meet them at Books are Magic in Brooklyn this Saturday, September 7th, at Books Are Magic.

FROM “DEAR HAITI, LOVE ALAINE”:

Saturday, December 12 - The Life and Times of Alaine Beauparlant

One of the perks of our expensive private school was “free” access to the local college library. Tatiana and I were supposed to be spending our Saturday finishing up our final safety school applications, but instead I had spent the last thirty minutes whisper-raging about the passive aggressive shade spectacle that was Career Day. It wasn’t until I looked up from my computer that I noticed Tatiana sleeping with her eyes open.

“Dude! Did you hear a word I just said?” I waved my hand in front of her face. She started suddenly.

“Sorry. What were you saying?”

“I said this is worse than when Nina had everyone calling you ‘Tatiana la Haitiana’ after your mom came to Mr. Berger’s class freshman year. It actually had a nice ring to it. But the fact that we know she was saying it in a derogatory way just made it so nasty. Anyway, sorry I didn’t turn around when you called after me when all of this went down. If I had stuck around, it would’ve definitely been Celeste Beauparlant Smackdown 2.0 and I couldn’t let that happen. Besides, I’ve already got an idea—”

Tatiana snored loudly and startled herself awake.

“Girl. What is going on?” I asked, annoyed. “Why can’t you keep your eyes open?”

“I fell asleep again? Ugh. I’m sorry. Church got out later than usual last night,” she yawned. “Cri de minuit, more like cri de four o’clock in the morning.”

“Jesus Christ—is God even awake to hear you then?” I loved hearing about Tatiana’s holy ghost stories.

She rolled her eyes. “We were in the homestretch. The pastor was winding down when some lady jumped up from her seat and began convulsing. Of course, he needed to exorcise her and the congregation started singing and my mom had taken my phone, so I couldn’t even record the thing.”

A college boy sitting behind a tall stack of GMAT prep books and a venti coffee looked up from his laptop and frowned over at where we sat in the corner of the library reserved for groups.

“And then! He started to preach again to round out the night with positive energy or whatever and went into this tirade about evil people who do vodou and split their souls into pieces and hide them in jelly bean jars so they can’t die.”

“You mean Horcruxes?”

“Puh-leez. We had all that before JKR wrote about it.”

“But is all vodou evil though?” I asked. “I feel like that particular instance would fall under the ‘bad’ branch of the spirit tree, but there are good uses too, right?”

Tatiana laughed. “Not at my church,” she said simply. “There’s no difference to us.”

“So if I went to church with you on Sunday like your mom has been hounding me about for the past four years and they found out I had a family curse, would they try to pray it away?”

“What?!”

College Boy growled.

“How have you never mentioned a family curse to me?” Tatiana hissed.

“There’s not much to mention. Whenever anything bad happens, my aunt says our family’s cursed and my mom tells me to ignore her.” I chuckled.

“Wow. Cursed how? I’m surprised you believe in all that.”

“I never said I did. And my mom doesn’t let my aunt get into the details. Mom always brushes it off as silly Haitian superstitions, but my aunt seems pretty adamant that it exists.”

“You’re always chatting with your aunt though,” Tatiana said. She tried to lower her voice when College Boy gave an exaggerated sigh. “She’s never explained what it is?”

“Whenever I bring it up and try to get her to tell me more, she says she can’t out of respect for my mom. Personally, I feel like it’s something my aunt made up to scare me into behaving as a child, and it just stuck around.”

“Hmm. That’s nothing to joke about,” Tatiana said. “Either way, don’t ever mention this to my parents, because they’d have me stop hanging out with you in a heartbeat.”

I nodded. “I promise I won’t.”

College Boy sighed heavily and started throwing his books into his bag to leave.

“You can find the quiet zone upstairs,” I said in a stickysweet voice when he was close enough to our table. I pointed to the Study Rooms Level 3 sign by the elevators right across from where we sat and watched as he looked between me and the sign and grumbled thanks as he walked away. He stepped into the elevator and I waved at him until the doors closed.

“You’re so annoying,” Tatiana giggled. “You’ve got to learn to let stuff go.”

“Or people can learn to use their words in a productive way instead of huffing and puffing like the big bad wolf.”

“Your curse has to be being a smart-ass,” Tatiana smirked. “In all seriousness, do you think maybe that’s what’s behind what happened with your mom on air?”

“What?” I asked.

“Your family curse. Maybe that’s what caused your mom to flip out on that senator.”

“Ha!” I fake laughed. “She flipped out because he put his hand on her when he had no business doing so.”

“You’re right,” she said. “It was just a thought.”

Tatiana turned to the computer in front of her so that she could put the finishing touches on her applications. I stared at my laptop screen but couldn’t get to work. I’d never seriously considered our family curse as anything more than a tall tale. Yet for some reason, I couldn’t totally shake the feeling that Tatiana might be onto something.

Excerpted from Dear Haiti, Love Alaine Copyright © 2019 by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite, out now from HarperCollins/Inkyard Press. Used with permission.