A Wedding in Haiti by Julia Alvarez
Published by: Algonquin Books
Published on: April 24, 2012
Page Count: 304
My Reading Format: Review copy sent to me by the publisher for consideration
Available Formats: Hardcover and eBook
Julia Alvarez and her husband Bill own and operate an organic coffee plantation in the Dominican Republic. It hadn’t been in their plans, but when they saw a place where they could help a declining industry, they did. Well, Bill did and convinced Julia to agree. Through their endeavor, they met Piti, a young Haitian man who crossed the border to find work. They cannot remember exactly how old Piti was when they first met, but he soon became close to them and Julia makes a promise to attend his wedding someday. When that day comes, Julia and Bill plan a trip to Haiti.
Although used to life in the Dominican Republic, the travelers are not fully prepared for the realities of Haiti. They realize they are in for a bumpy ride the moment they attempt to cross the border with their truck. They quickly learn that there are rules and then there are the rules made on an individual basis and at a cost. That this cost is much to high for so many living in Haiti was not lost on Alvarez. Yet what frustrates them on a vacation does not seem to depress the Haitian people. Quite the contrary. In a land where nothing in more abundance than poverty, its people are full of seemingly never ending hope.
The wedding trip takes place before the earthquake. Julia and Bill then make a return trip to help Piti once again afterward. I was as eager and anxious for their return journey as they were. This memoir, which includes several candid snapshots from both trips, is without a doubt well written, engaging, and full of insight about marriage, family, and the poorest nation in our hemisphere. While always honest, it is not without its humor and joy. It would make an excellent addition to the reading list of anyone interested in social justice. I cannot recommend A Wedding in Haiti enough.