Title: Clap When You Land
Author: Elizabeth Acevedo
Publisher: Quill Tree Books
Publishing Date: May 5h 2020
Age Category & Genre: Young Adult Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Poetry
Summary: In a novel-in-verse that brims with grief and love, National Book Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Acevedo writes about the devastation of loss, the difficulty of forgiveness, and the bittersweet bonds that shape our lives.
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.
**Thank you to HarperCollins International and Netgalley for providing me an eARC. This, by any means, did not affect nor influence my review.**
T/CW: death, grief, sexual assault
Clap When You Land is just what I expected and so much more. I expected how poetic and well-written this book is going to be, but not the personal connection I have felt. I embraced Elizabeth Acevedo’s words and her words embraced me.
WRITING, POINT OF VIEWS, SETTINGS, CHARACTERS
Clap When You Land is a novel written in verse and is told from two point of views: Camino Rio’s and Yahaira Rio’s, two half-sisters who do not know that the other exists. It has two primary settings: Sosúa in Dominican Republic and New York City in the United States.
Similar to her previous works, Acevedo’s writing is evocative. Her words feel like they have been sprinkled with magic that just swept me away. The words crafted together brim with deep emotions that made me feel like I was also brimming with the same emotions. There was also an occasional usage of the Spanish language, which as far as I know is the primary language in Sosúa. Though it was already easy, this helped in transporting me to Sosúa even more.
Camino and Yahaira have distinct personalities. Camino dreams to be a doctor and lives with her aunt in Sosúa who is a healer and she helps with, while Yahaira used to join chess tournaments, lives in NYC with both her mom and dad, and lives a far more comfortable life. I loved both of them. Both are tough and soft at the same time, but in their own different ways. I loved that they are complex. I disagree with them sometimes, but they were still easy to connect to.
I also love the relationships between the characters. They are complex but mostly heart-warming and tender. Clap When You Land also gives huge importance and appreciation to girls’ and women’s relationship with one another. And I really loved seeing them empower, give hope, take care, and love one another.
GRIEF, POVERTY, SISTERHOOD, FAMILY, FRIENDSHIP, ROMANCE
Clap When You Land mainly explores grief, dealing with the realization that the ones we love may not be the same person we thought they truly are, friendship, acceptance, sisterhood and family.
It also explores how different life could be for people with different amounts of privileges, specifically between those who live in a city in a developed country and those who live in a small town in a developing country. It also brought attention to some of the problems a town like Sosúa has specifically, poverty and sex trafficking. Coming from a developing country that faces the same problems myself, I highly appreciate Acevedo bringing attention to these important topics.
I am not an Own Voices reviewer for the Afro-Dominican rep but I really love how Acevedo does not shy away and is proud and loud in showing us their culture – which is present in all of the novels she’s written. Clap When You Land is unapologetically Dominican. The reason behind the title also makes me want to sob because of its relevance and significance. And the sapphic best-friends-to-lovers romance (!!!) made me feel so soft.
What surprised me the most was how close Clap When You Land hits home. Camino lives in a small town in a developing country but she has big dreams and wants more for her life than what their town could offer. Attaining that is hard due to financial constraints. And I experience exactly the same.
Further, Camino only sees her father every summer and basically grew up with her aunt. I don’t usually (want to) talk about this but a bit similar to Camino, I grew up without a father. Since when I was a kid, I’ve learned how to feel unsafe almost every second of my life because I don’t have a father to make me feel protected and treat me like a princess like most girls do. But I love my family – the women who helped shape me, and their love, care and protection are more than enough. Acevedo perfectly captured how that feels. This is the very first time I have felt understood because of a book when it comes to this. Acevedo, once again, did not let me feel alone. And for that, I will forever be grateful.
The only downside for me is that I felt like more or less of the first half was a bit slow. It was not dragging, perhaps it was just because I was eager for something that is crucial to the story to finally happen but it took a little longer than I prefer.
Clap When You Land is a beautiful, evocative and profound novel that deeply explores grief, sisterhood, love, family, and what does it mean to deal with the hard truths about the ones we love. This is my third read from Elizabeth Acevedo and I definitely love them with all of my heart. I am planning to re-read this again by listening to the audiobook to listen to the author narrate and I couldn’t be more excited! I highly recommend.
ELIZABETH ACEVEDO is the youngest child and only daughter of Dominican immigrants. She holds a BA in Performing Arts from the George Washington University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland. With over fourteen years of performance poetry experience, Acevedo is a National Poetry Slam Champion, Cave Canem Fellow, CantoMundo Fellow, and participant of the Callaloo Writer’s Workshop. She has two collections of poetry, Beastgirl & Other Origin Myths (YesYes Books, 2016) and winner of the 2016 Berkshire Prize, Medusa Reads La Negra’s Palm (Tupelo Press, forthcoming). The Poet X is her debut novel. She lives with her partner in Washington, DC.
Have you read Clap When You Land or any books by Eizabeth Acevedo? Did you like them as well? What is your favorite novel written in verse? Let’s chat below!