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Must-read: A Wedding in Haiti by Julia Alvarez

Swapna Krishna is a freelance writer, editor, and book reviewer. She has been blogging about books at S. Krishna's Books since 2008. She lives in Washington, DC with her husband. Find her on Twitter at @skrishna and on her blog at www.s...

A Wedding in Haiti

Julia Alvarez was born in the United States but raised in the Dominican Republic and thus has a unique view of the immigrant experience. Her latest book A Wedding in Haiti is a memoir focusing on Julia's personal relationships, as well as the devastation of the Haitian earthquake. The tender story and commentary on poverty make this smart story a must-read.

Though Julia Alvarez was born in the United States, she was raised in the Dominican Republic and has never forgotten her fondness for her native country. She and her husband, Bill, own an organic coffee A Wedding in Haitifarm in the Dominican Republic and work to improve the lives of those whom they employ. A Wedding in Haiti focuses not only on the Dominican Republic, but also on Haiti, a country that has been in the news because of an absolutely devastating earthquake.

In 2001, Julia and Bill first met Piti, a Haitian who had crossed the border into the Dominican Republic in order to find work. A bright teenager, Piti was hard-working and charming with a smile that Julia couldn't resist. She became so close to the boy — even thinking of him as a son — that she promised Piti she would one day attend his wedding.

By the time 2009 rolled around, Julia still remembered Piti but had all but forgotten her promise to him. That is, until Piti called with the news he was getting married. Unwilling to go back on her word to this boy she loved so much, Julia made preparations to travel to Haiti to see Piti married. She traveled to Haiti twice — once for the celebration and once more a year later to help Piti find his relatives in the aftermath of the earthquake. Beautifully told and moving, Alvarez's memoir serves to introduce readers to all Haiti once was — and what it could be again.

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