All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

on August 24, 2020

Clap When You Land 
Elizabeth Acevedo
Hot Key Books
2020, 417p
Read via my local library/Borrow Box

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

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.

I’m the first to admit that stories in verse are generally not my thing. I’ve not read too many of them and the ones I have read, I’ve been so-so on. But I loved Elizabeth Acevedo’s With The Fire On High so much that I’d read anything by her. Probably even her shopping list. I think her first novel was also in verse but I’ve not read that, although it’s high on my list.

This was really good. It did take me a little while to settle into it and I think reading it in the format I did, sometimes made it a bit hard to remember which point of view I was currently in for the first few narration changes. The story details two girls, one living in New York City and one living in the Dominican Republic. For Camino, her father lives in the US and he visits her every summer. She looks forward to those days, especially as he’s supposed to be bringing her to the US. Her mother has passed away and she’s being raised by an aunt but Camino has big dreams to become a doctor and hopefully, that’ll happen in America. In New York, Yahaira’s father disappears every summer. But this time, he doesn’t come back. And both Camino and Yahaira are suddenly aware that the father they idolised had hidden many things from them.

So much was conveyed in this book, without an excess of words. The two girls are very different – one has grown up in a more traditional family unit and she has idolised her father, until she discovers one of his secrets. The other has already faced the loss of one parent and now, at 17, loses her other parent. The death of her father puts Camino in a bad situation – her father was paying the fees for her school and without that, her future is uncertain. He was also paying protection for her, avoiding her being harassed by local boys and with that – her future could be dangerous. When the two girls discover each other’s existence, it’s not an easy ride to sisterhood.

Elizabeth Acevedo uses the very real flight of American Airlines flight 587 as her inspiration for the catalyst of this story, something that severely impacted the Dominican Republic community both in New York and at home. The difference between the two lifestyles of the girls was portrayed incredibly well – Camino deals with poverty, the dangers of lurking boys who won’t take no for an answer, her pregnant friend juggling school and the desire to be a doctor. She’s been learning a local form of medicine from her aunt, who is a well respected caregiver and attends births and things like that. But Camino dreams of college in America, something that her father was supposed to make happen – what Camino doesn’t know is that in order for her father to secure her a visa, he needs the assistance of someone that Camino didn’t even know existed until after his death in the plane crash.

When the two sisters’ worlds collide, it’s not an easy path. They’re both almost adults and having to deal with the fact that just the other exists is enough. They are almost the same age – so what does that say about what sort of person their father was? How did that happen? Both of them have a lot of conflicted feelings toward him as well but he’s also no longer here for them to vent those feelings and get some answers. And they are still grieving the person they knew for their whole lives, no matter what their recent discoveries. Their feelings are similar, yet different. The sting of betrayal is the same, the feelings of hurt and confusion and anger and resentment. But then there’s more than that. They share a kinship in more ways than one.

This was a really powerful story and I read it in a single sitting. It’s another stellar read from a talented author. I really need to get myself a copy of The Poet X to read whilst I await her next book.


Book #147 of 2020

2 responses to “Review: Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

  1. Marg says:

    I still haven’t read this even though I bought it as soon as it came out.

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