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Dear Alaine, Let's Hang Out

Yes! Highly recommend. First of all, Alaine is an engaging character with a strong voice. I felt like I knew her (and totally wanted to hang out with her) by the end.

After a bit of a kerfuffle at school, Alaine is sent to Haiti to work with her aunt's non-profit group for the spring semester of senior year. Alaine doesn't know all that much about her family's country, but that is all about to change. Told entirely through emails, journal entries, and news clippings, Alaine unfolds her story. Where she's from, family history (and mystery), the cute intern, and her powerful mother's debilitating disease all play a role in Alaine's narrative.

I loved learning more about Haiti through her eyes. If you have an interest in the current economics or original founding of Haiti, there is some very relevant information here. Thankfully, it's carefully woven into the plot and not given in one big info-dump. The plot was strong and multi-faceted, and the epistolary style really lends itself to keeping Alaine's voice consistent throughout. This is not just a coming-of-age story, although Alaine definitely does some growing up. Thoughtful, hopeful, and witty with a dash of mysticism, I would give this novel to fans of Elizabeth Acevedo, the Yoons, or even Becky Albertalli.

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