This was the first Novel-in-verse that I have read, and it was an interesting experience. I’m not sure how I feel about it and I don’t think I can make a final judgement until I’ve read some more books like this one, but I didn’t hate it. I read it while I was sitting the car for 3 hours waiting for a Covid-19 test since I felt sick and had some of the symptoms (thank god I didn’t have Covid, or strep, which they also tested me for.) but I still had to call out of work. Anyways. I I really liked how Elizabeth Acevedo was able to put so much thought and storytelling into a book with probably half as many words as a regularly written novel. I’m eager to see what she writes next, but first, the review!
About The Book:
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo, published May 5th, 2020 by Quill Tree Books. Recommended reading age is 13+.
Trigger Warnings: Plane crash, sexual assault, familial death, infidelity, cancer mentions, grief.
Cover Credits: Cover design by Erin Fitzsimmons, Cover art by Bijou Karman
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.
About The Author:
ELIZABETH ACEVEDO is the New York Times-bestselling author of The Poet X, which won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, the Michael L. Printz Award, the Pura Belpré Award, the Carnegie medal, the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award, and the Walter Award. She is also the author of With the Fire on High—which was named a best book of the year by the New York Public Library, NPR, Publishers Weekly, and School Library Journal—and Clap When You Land, which was a Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor book and a Kirkus finalist.
She holds a BA in Performing Arts from The George Washington University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland. Acevedo has been a fellow of Cave Canem, Cantomundo, and a participant in the Callaloo Writer’s Workshops. She is a National Poetry Slam Champion, and resides in Washington, DC with her love.
Where to Find Her:
The cover art was designed by Bijou Karman and illustrated by Erin Fitzsimmons, and it’s *chef’s kiss* GORGEOUS. I love Bijou’s art style, and I’m in love with how the planes are facing opposite ways and intersect between the girls. Also, the naked book is incredible. Each half of the cover, the background behind the girls? THOSE ARE PRINTED ONTO THE FRONT AND BACK, RESPECTIVLY. I know Elizabeth’s other book/s have this detail on the naked books as well, and I absolutely love it. Pictures simply could not do it justice.
Characters & Plot
Camino and Yahaira both have incredibly different lives, yet have one thing in common: the love for their father. When he dies in a plane accident, both are devastated and have their futures turned upside down. Camino especially relies on her father because he is the breadwinner of the house and only visits each summer. He also pays Camino’s local stalker* to stay away from her, and what happens now that he’s gone and can’t pay him off?
Yahaira and her father had a complicated relationship since Yahaira found out about the other woman in his life and the fact that he married her. She idolized him though, and now she doesn’t know how to go on.
When the sisters find out about each other, they struggle to understand what this new information will mean for their futures without the one figure who knew them best, and how to move on. This book was full of grief, love persevering, and the struggles in their vastly different daily lives and own families.
*I don’t think stalker is quite the right word because Camino is well aware of what is going on and who he is, but I don’t know what the better word would be.
I liked when Yahaira and Camino met over the internet for the first time and they both kept looking at each other and thinking about how much the other looked and acted like their father, while sizing each other up. When they actually interact together when they meet, it seems like a bittersweet reunion.
Least Favorite Moments?
I felt that the whole arc of Camino and her “stalker” was almost unnecessary. I understand that Elizabeth Acevedo included it to show how high the stakes were while her father is gone, but I felt that the plot of ‘now how will I get residency and money in the US when I leave home’ was a plenty strong enough motivator in it’s own right. Plus, at the end with al the women from both families come together to save Camino felt kind of cliché. I know it brought them closer together but it still felt a little bit out of place.
I probably won’t be rereading this one, but it wasn’t a bad book. I’m eager to read Elizabeth’s other book With The Fire On High (Which has an equally beautiful cover/naked book!)
A good book with good themes and messages, while still being enthralling enough to read despite the lack of general happiness throughout the book. I can picture it being a school reading book in the future, like The Poet X is.