Title: Clap When You Land
By: Elizabeth Acevedo
Published: May 5th, 2020
By: Hot Key Books
Genre: YA | Contemporary | Poetry | LGBT+
Buy it: Book Depository
Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…
In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.
Separated by distance – and Papi’s secrets – the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered. And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.
Papi’s death uncovers all the painful truths he kept hidden, and the love he divided across an ocean. And now, Camino and Yahaira are both left to grapple with what this new sister means to them, and what it will now take to keep their dreams alive.
In a dual narrative novel in verse that brims with both grief and love, award-winning and bestselling author Elizabeth Acevedo writes about the devastation of loss, the difficulty of forgiveness, and the bittersweet bonds that shape our lives.
| Goodreads |
offers her hand to be kissed,
& can form it into a fist
while smiling the whole damn time.”
OMG, this book is so beautiful, so powerful and deep in many ways, I’m very happy to have given it a chance, I knew deep down that I would like it, but I didn’t expect to love it this much, so I totally surpassed all expectations. I think that what moved me the most about all things is the relationship between the girls and how they grow and transform themselves, and how despite the tragedy that brought them together they can overcome all the obstacles to create something between them that felt really magical. The author is undoubtedly super talented when it comes to creating stories, and I absolutely love the verse format of the book.
The book follows a dual perspective of two girls, one of them Yahaira Rios who lives in New York, and the other Camino Rios who live in the Dominican Republic. In this story we see the girls facing the news about this terrible air tragedy where their father loses his life along with all the people who were on the plane, but they didn’t know until now about the existence of their father’s other family or about having a sister across the ocean. This is a story about the power of forgiveness, the relationship between two sisters, and their mixed feelings about the loss of the man of their lives and the realization that perhaps they didn’t know as much as they thought about him. Now, Yahaira and Camino will establish a relationship that will change the course of their lives, as they go through a time of healing and growth.
I think the magic and wonder of this book for me was how human and real it is, I adored following both girls, I loved getting to know them better and going deeper into each of their lives and their experiences, but when they met each other it was a super special and unique energy there, and everything is told in such a beautiful and raw way that it goes beyond reading and touched my heart. I felt super committed and super attached to the story from the first moment and then while reading you can feel immediately close to the characters as well because there’s a very hard reality they must face, and you can somehow put yourself in their place and sympathize with each one of their thoughts, doubts, and feelings. It was just SO powerful.
I don’t really think there are many conflicts in this plot, I think rather the author chose to focus on these two girls who go through the loss of their father and suddenly realize that he was divided between two families, and now they know about the existence of a sister they had no idea about. And it’s about the pain of the loss of someone they loved and who despite everything was a great father to them, but we also have, on the other hand, the pain of lies and the weight of the truth at such an early age, having themselves a lot of doubts about their own futures. And the plot is that and invites us to follow the path of their transformations as people, loss, and forgiveness. My point is, it may not have plot twists and only focus on a single big problem, but that doesn’t take away its power and I think it has been an extremely smart decision to tell in a book that also has a very unique and colorful narrative. I enjoyed it a lot.
“Maybe anger is like a river. Maybe it crumbles everything around it. Maybe it hides so many skeletons beneath the rolling surface.”
I loved the writing style, although it wasn’t a surprise because I had already read the author, it was something different because I had never read a book told in verse, so at the beginning, I was a bit lost about the format, but then you get used to it and it’s a factor that adds a lot to the story. Very beautiful, and you simply fly through it, it’s an extremely easy book to read, nothing heavy despite the fact that it does have quite delicate content for which I recommend discretion, things like sexual abuse are touched.
I liked the characters a lot, I think they’re built with very different personalities from each other and with powerful personalities, and it feels like they come to life as you read it, you know? They’re very well created. My personal favorite has to be Camino, I know she’s a bit more cold, calculating and kind of distant, but I understand the reason for each of her actions and I admire her strength and determination, as well as I love to see her sensitive side when she worries about her best friend and her Tia with whom they’re super close. She had a life perhaps a little harder than Yahaira in some aspects, and I think that a lot of that and the injustices that have haunted her life, have made her the way she is, but you can tell that under that shell she’s a wonderful person who cares about others. Yahaira, on the other hand, is wonderful too, I loved her from the beginning, I like how she’s super careful with her words and I think it’s adorable how she wants to take care of her new sister and how much that means to her. Her relationship with her father was super interesting to follow for me, I think there are many things that couldn’t be said between them, and that hurts her, but I also see a super powerful girl who always follows her heart and is very kind. Her relationship with her girlfriend is admirable, I love how they protect and love each other, those scenes were a breeze of fresh air between so much tragedy happening, I also loved following her mother and knowing about her story, although briefly, it seemed to me that it had an impact in the plot and at one point it makes you understand the story behind the story, you know? it’s small details that are important.
There’s a very delicate point in the life of Camino where this man whom they call “El Cero” harasses her and persecutes her everywhere, I think that from what I understood he’s like a “proxeneta” ( I really don’t know how to say that in English, I’m sorry), he has girls working as prostitutes for him, and he wants to “recruit” Camino to do those kinds of jobs. And now that Camino doesn’t have her father to protect her, she sees herself alone at the mercy of this terrible man, and it was very shocking to read, the impunity that exists in certain situations and how society sees women as the “guilty ones” is very impressive and heartbreaking. It’s a very powerful message, I felt very physically disgusted by some scenes, it’s something very intense to read about, no doubt.
The protagonist is for me the relationship between Camino and Yahaira, it was so incredible to see them interact, and to get to know a little about the other, and even more powerful and shocking was to see them recognizing themselves and their father in their features and their behaviors. It’s very unique and special, a relationship that I appreciate very much because you know that I am trash for the stories that focus on siblings, so I LOVED IT COMPLETELY
“But one thing I learned from the Saints,
when the crossroads are open to you, you must decide a path.
I will not stand still while the world makes my choices.”
As a Latina it makes me feel very proud to meet authors like Acevedo and to be able to enjoy and appreciate their stories is something unique and wonderful. I’m dying to read more and more of the author in the future!! The Dominican Republic is an absolutely beautiful, super colorful, and vibrant place, so I loved being able to see a little of that magical place. And as a detail, but also super significant, I loved the author’s final note where she explains why she has decided to write this story and what has “inspired” her to give voice and life to the characters. I really liked knowing that, I think it gives a deeper meaning to everything you just read.
So in summary, I LOVE the book, it’s a wonderful work that shows the power of union and the meaning of family, but also we follow a story full of sorrow and pain that grows to become a story of overcoming, learning, sisterhood and above all forgiveness. You’ll like this story, I have no doubts, so I recommend it to everyone, it’s told in verse which I think gives it something magical, very beautiful and lyrical to the plot, and the general meaning of each scene, of each character, of each situation and dialogue, is super wonderful, and deep. I adore it and I know you’ll do it too.