Clap When You Land
Author: Elizabeth Acevedo
Length: 5.5 hours
Narrator: Elizabeth Acevedo, Melania-Luisa Marte
Original Publication Date: 2020
Genre(s): Young adult, Contemporary, Verse novel
Camino lives in the Dominican Republic with her aunt, the village healer. She helps her aunt around the house and around the village, hoping one day to move to the States and go to college to be a doctor. She lives for the summers when her father comes to visit from America.
Yahaira lives in New York with her mother and father. She’s an excellent chess player, like her father, but when she quits the chess team at school, things change between them. And when Yahaira discovers a secret her father has been keeping, she stops talking to him almost entirely. Even when he leaves for the Dominican Republic for the summer on business.
And then both girls’ world changes. Both girls learn of a plane crash. Both girls have lost someone on that plane. And that devastation brings Camino’s and Yahaira’s worlds together.
I always thought people who clapped at the end of movies, or after a flight, were silly. I still think the movie clapping is cheesy, but after reading Clap When You Land, I think I’ll take the plane clapping more seriously. Clap When You Land is a novel told in verse from the alternating first-person perspectives of Camino and Yahaira. The two girls are sisters who don’t even know the other exists—until their father dies in a plane crash, and all his secrets are uncovered. The stories are very separate at first, but as we near the end of the book, they merge and become one.
Though I know of Acevedo’s other books, I haven’t yet read any of them. Clap When You Land is my first. I will admit, my reading has not been very diverse since graduating from college. Though I’ve read a lot of LGBTQ+ books, I’ve been lacking in reading books written by authors of/about other backgrounds, beliefs, and life circumstances. I really hope to start expanding my TBR to include more diverse books. So, Clap When You Land was not a novel I would normally pick up, but because I’ve heard so much about Acevedo’s talent, I decided to give it a try. And I was not disappointed.
This book is beautiful. The novel in verse style worked so well with this story, and Acevedo truly is a beautiful writer. And reader. I listened to the audiobook version, in which she narrates one of the girls, and it was really wonderful. I highly recommend listening to this one. Not only is the writing beautiful, but the story is interesting and heartfelt. As the girls discover more about their dead father, they’re simultaneously discovering more about themselves and each other.
The novel deals with a lot of heavy topics, like loss, sexual assault, socioeconomic status, and what it means to be “family.” Though a lot of the novel is sad, I found myself somewhat disconnected from it emotionally. With such a somber plot and so many awful things happening along the way, I thought I would for sure break down and cry, or at least feel heartbroken. But instead I felt distanced from the characters emotionally, almost until the very end. Maybe it was the way the story was told in verse, I don’t know. I just wish I could have been more emotionally invested.
Other than that, I don’t really have any faults with this novel. It was touching and real and beautifully told. I’m really glad I read it, and will absolutely look for more of Acevedo’s books to add to my TBR. You may not need a box of tissues to get through this one, but it’s sure to move you and touch your heart regardless.