I wanted to love this.
Name: Clap When You Land
Author: Elizabeth Acevedo
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.
I’ve been looking at the books on my shelf, thinking just how many of them were set in either the UK or America (or Ravka… but that doesn’t count). So, I’ve been looking for books centred around different cultures and communities – if you have any suggestions please let me know in the comments! I’d heard so much about Acevedo’s ‘Poet X’ and then was intrigued when I saw she’d written one based on a plane crash in the Dominican Republic. Although, it’s put me off flights for a while.
(Thanks to COVID that isn’t even an option, so I guess that problems out of the way…)
As if your father dying in a plane crash isn’t enough trauma, here’s some sexual harassment and your long lost sibling! Especially in the beginning, I struggled to distinguish between Camino and Yahaira’s two voices – I’ve read other reviews who complained about the same problem. Generally, I preferred Camino’s narrative, although there wasn’t much difference personality wise. Clap When You Land was written in verse; personalities can be hard to portray especially as it’s in first person as well. I liked Acevedo’s prose style and it was very moving in moments, but every page followed a similar structure.
I don’t speak Spanish. Theoretically, I can speak French, but I’m not sure how far I’d get if I was actually shipped off to a school in Paris, as my french teacher would aways threaten. (like SOAP 😉. If you get the reference you’re my friend.). What I’m trying to say is that there was a lot of Spanish speech that I didn’t understand. A few more translations might have left me less confused, but I liked the feel they gave the writing.
They don’t do that much anymore. This must be a plane of Dominicans returning home; when you touch down on this soil, you must clap when you land.– My favourite quote from ‘Clap When You Land’ (coincidence? I think not.)
I saw this alternate cover when I was looking for images and at first I didn’t like it, but it’s growing on me. Which one do you prefer?
Finally, the thought and detail put into the side characters was great; I loved Camino’s aunt and Yahaira’s girlfriend. Clap When You Land covered some very topical and important issues in a strong and often moving way. It was a beautiful idea; a story full of hope in the face of darkness and loss.