Author: Elizabeth Acevedo
Genre: YA, drama, verse
Release Date: May 5th 2020
Spoilers: Nope, no spoilers!
Rating: (4.5 / 5)
Special: YABC Staff Review
* Thank you Edelweiss+ and HarperTeen for receiving this advanced e-arc! *
Clap When You Land is a novel-in-verse written by National Book Award-winning and New York Times-bestselling author Elizabeth Acevedo. It is a story of loss, family and the difficulty of forgiveness. The only other YA novel-in-verse I’ve ever read is One by Sarah Crossan, so I was super excited to read this book. And boy – it delivered more than what I expected!
Camino Rios, from the Dominican Republic, arrives at the airport, only to hear that the plane with her father she was expecting, crashed. Her father was flying back from the States for the summer. In New York, Yahaira Rios is called into the principal’s office where she hears her father died in the plane crash. What neither of the girls know, is that they have the same father. A father that had a lot of secrets and is forever silenced.
Now that her father is dead, Camino is scared. She’s scared of her future and scared of El Cero, the pimp who’s been eyeing her ever since her father died. She wants to escape, but then Yahaira shows up and turns her life upside down. Both mad at each other and mad at ‘Papi’, they get to know each other. I love how Acevedo describes the girls and their evolving relationship. As a reader, you feel like you already know both girls, while they don’t even know of each other. But their relationship grows fast. Because, even though they only have known each other for a few days, they are bound by their father and his secrets.
The fact that the novel is written in verse, was something I had to get used to for about five pages. But because Acevedo is so talented, it didn’t feel like the story needed more or less words. All it needed were the exact poetic words that Acevedo used so carefully. You can feel the story has a lot of soul, a lot of warmth. As a reader, you know right away, how important it was for the author to tell this story, based on the actual plane crash of flight AA587 killing almost 300 Dominicans in 2001. It wasn’t covered enough by the media, yet Acevedo found a story to tell – an exceptional story.
I was amazed by how real both girls felt. Their cultures were researched thoroughly and I think she portrayed both girls with just the right of words. And above all, I was amazed by how Acevedo lets the girls grow over the story. As they learn more and more about their father, who turns out, wasn’t the hero they thought he was, they progress as persons. They are shaped by a loss they both experience so deeply. Even though they’ve never met, they feel the same kind of loss.
I was blown away by the story. For me, it isn’t a book that you can read in a single read. I think you might want to read this book over the course of a week or so, to really let it sink in. You need to think about it, and then get back into the story. This story is really a one-of-a-kind kinda story. The kind of story you do not come across very often. And I just love that.