Book Reviews

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo: Book Review

This is a spoiler-free review.

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Published May 5th 2020 by Quill Tree Books.

My rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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.

Content Warnings: sexual assault, attempted rape

“To walk this world you must be kind but also fierce.”

Two girls. A world apart. Completely different lives. The same father.

Based on the real life tragedy of flight AA587, Clap When You Land tells the story of two teenage girls: Camino, who lives in the Dominican Republic, and Yahaira, who lives in New York City. Camino and Yahaira are half-sisters – they just don’t know it yet.

But when their father unexpectedly dies in a plane crash, long-kept secrets are thrust out into the open. And Camino and Yahaira must come to terms with what they find out, and – amidst their grief – reconcile these truths with the image of the man they called Papi.

Honestly, it’s been a while since I read this book, but my thoughts on it still feel so fresh because hardly a day goes by that I don’t think about it! I recently was discussing my favorite books I read this year with a friend and this title immediately jumped out at me. I don’t think I’ve read many books that can compare to the artistic vision and emotional depth of this novel!

Clap When You Land is one of those unique books that I believe every single reader will enjoy and take something away from their experience with it. It’s one of those novels that transcends all barriers.

Yet, at the same time, Clap When You Land is steeped in rich cultural identity and expression. Telling both the story of two young Latina girls, one living in the Dominican Republic and wishing to move to America for university, and one the daughter of immigrants living in Harlem, it deftly discusses privilege, culture and tradition.

Above all else, Clap When You Land is a deeply emotional read. Written in verse, Acevedo doesn’t shy away from exploring the themes of grief, family, and the complicated nature of forgiveness.

I also had the wonderful opportunity of listening to this story in audiobook format. Narrated by Elizabeth Acevedo herself as well as Melania-Luisa Marte, this audiobook is not one to miss! These women breath life into Acevedo’s already vibrant prose, creating an incredibly immersive and heartfelt experience.

Please, do yourself the favorite and read this book! You won’t regret it.

What was one of your favorite reads from 2020?

Let me know!

Liza is a twenty-something book blogger who spends way too much time with her nose in books and feels way too much. She loves cooking, baking, reality tv show watching and, of course, reading. She can be found most often with a cup of tea in one hand and a book in the other. Her blog, Literary Liza, features bookish content like reviews, recommendations, and author interviews.

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