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Reviewed by Raanan Geberer for Readers' Favorite
Quake: Horror and Hope in Haiti by Will Loiseau humanizes the 2010 earthquake in that troubled island. Jean Carmelo, a college-educated, assimilated Haitian-American, decides to fly to Haiti for his elderly grandmother's funeral, accompanied by his immigrant parents. Even in “normal” times, life there is problematic: electricity only being on a few hours a day, a lack of indoor plumbing in many houses, the danger of armed gangs attacking tourists and a lack of water purification. But after the 2010 earthquake, which killed 200,000 people, life gets considerably worse for the people of that Caribbean isle — houses destroyed, no space in hospitals, even roads being blocked because local people are burning bodies. Somehow, Loiseau manages to hold a funeral for this grandmother, then decides to go home. There are only so many flights and the elderly and injured have priority, but eventually Carmelo flies home to the States.
This short novel by Will Loiseau, himself a Haitian-American who experienced the quake, brings to life that which to many people is only an abstraction. Besides text, Quake: Horror and Hope in Haiti has several pages of graphic photos taken at the time. Loiseau (which translates to “the bird”) does a good job of representing Haitian Kreyol, which most of the people on the island speak. The complicated relationship between Carmelo and his parents is also very well portrayed. Loiseau is also good with dialogue and with the description of day-to-day life in Haiti, with primitive conditions that most Americans can only imagine. If you’re interested in reading about the tragedy in Haiti, or even if you’re just interested in reading about the dynamics of one particular family, Quake: Horror and Hope in Haiti is a good bet.