Thursday 17 December 2020

Book Review | Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Title: Clap When You Land 
Author: Elizabeth Acevedo • Author's Site 
Publication Date: May 5th 2020 by Hot Key Books
Format: Library ebook
Target Audience: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary  


 Trigger Warnings:
  • Depictions of rape & sexual assault
  • Sexual harassment
  • Stalking
  • Cheating mentioned
  • Pregnancy, childbirth (labour) & premature birth
  • Grief depiction
  • Death of a father
  • Plane crash (off-page)

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, Yahaira and Camino are both left to grapple with what this new sister means to them, and what it will now take to keep their dreams alive.


My Thoughts

"A queen offers her hand to be kissed, & can form it into a fist while smiling the whole damn time."

Oof, was this book an incredible piece of art or what? I'll be the first to admit that I'm not the biggest fan of books written in verse as I tend to have trouble following the flow of the narration and understanding certain aspects of the characters and such. Elizabeth Acevedo has crafted a remarkable story though and has placed herself firmly at the top of authors that I want to read more from. 

This, as I've said, is a book written in verse and follows two sisters who discover the other exists after their father's plane crashes. Whilst dealing with their father's death they come to find that they share a much deeper bond then either expected and their lives unexpectedly collide. 

Written in dual perspective we get to see how very different Camino's and Yahaira's lives are with Camino living in the Dominican Republic and Yahaira residing in New York City. Although they both share the same blood, the different ways that they grew up and the cultural differences are evident. Both have such strong, distinct voices and I loved them both equally. 

Whilst both have to learn to deal with their grief, they also have personal struggles of their own. Camino is fighting to make a better life for herself away from her stifling town where she feels she has no prospects and dreams of making a better life for herself. Yahaira has been struggling with keeping a secret for the past year which ultimately ending with her giving up her hobby of chess and finds herself regretting how she left things with her dead before his death. Both of their journeys throughout this novel are well constructed and felt genuine and real. 

"A woman should be able to sell whatever she wants to sell. But not if it's at the insistence of a man."

Acevedo's writing is beautiful and I found that I kept having to pause in order to highlight quotes and passages. Her verse is so lyrical and fast paced that before I knew it I'd read almost the whole book in a short amount of time. She is able to weave in themes of feminism, race, grief and sisterhood so effortlessly and there are so many relevent quotes that relate to real life situations and emotions throughout. It's a powerful look at how a tragic accident such as the one in the book can have such a massive impact on a community. The events were inspired by the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 that occured on November 12th 2001. Being so soon after 9/11, it was largely overlooked in the media but Acevedo sheds light on the effects it had on the families and friends of the victims especially with many of the victims being of Dominican descent.      

This was a really powerful read and one that i'd urge everyone to pick up. It's a gorgeous story of the bond between sisters and how there is always life beyond significant loss. It has wonderful diversity with both MC being Dominican, Yahaira is a lesbian and her girlfriend is black. I own another of Acevedo's books, With the Fire on High, and I'm very excited to read more from the mind of this author.   

Please check out these Own Voices reviews as well:

Feminist Book Club


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