Book Review: Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary/Poetry
Length: 432 pages
Purchased through Bookshop.org
Release Date: May 5, 2020

Synopsis

In this novel in verse, 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. 

My Thoughts

Clap When You Land is a beautiful story, told in verse, about loss, the grieving process, and the secrets that are revealed in the aftermath.

Acevedo is unflinching as she gives voice to daughters grieving their father’s life, filled with complications of a double existence. They express their anger and wants in poetic verse, emphasizing the purity of emotion in both speakers voices the days after the plane crash.

This story alternates between Camino and Yahaira’s perspective, both trying to absorb the truth behind their father’s deceit as the layers of truth are revealed through relatives’ unspoken words and double meanings. Upon learning about each other, each girl holds preconceived notions about the other, further deepening the anger held about their father’s secret lives.

The tone in this poetic story is raw, voicing each girl’s hardships upon reflecting on a life without their hero. At the same time, both Yahaira and Camino are envious of each other for different reasons: Yahaira detests Camino’s island ties with her father; in her eyes, Camino has her father during the time she needs him the most. Meanwhile, Camino feels envious of Yahaira’s privilege of living in the United States; in her eyes, Yahaira is blessed with educational opportunities that Camino can only dream of.

Clap When You Land has diverse representation through the Latinx perspective in both the United States and the Dominican Republic. Being Latinx myself, I can identify with the familial customs Yahaira and Camino’s families display. I can also understand the friendly competition among Spanish fluency between the characters, as I have friendly interactions among my family members over this very same concept!

This novel also has LGBT representation, as Yahaira has a same-sex relationship Andrea (Dre), her high school classmate. I enjoyed reading about Yahaira and Dre’s loving bond! Although Yahaira is more reserved about her relationship status than her partner, Yahaira’s mother is aware and accepting of her daughter’s relationship. I enjoyed this show of acceptance between mother and daughter!

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Clap When You Land! I recommend this book for those who love reading stories about sisters rediscovering each other by chance. If you also enjoy reading books with Latinx representation, then you will love this story!

Rating: 5/5 Stars

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