Book review: Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Clap When You Land is a stunning verse novel about two sisters. One lives in the Dominican Republic, the other in New York. Neither is aware of the others existence.

Camino and Yahaira have the same father. He has compartmentalised his two lives and two families, keeping the sisters existence a secret He spends his summers in the the Dominican Republic and the rest of the year in New York.

Fight until you can’t breathe, and if you have to forfeit, you forfeit smiling, make them think you let them win.

Camino goes to the airport to meet her Papi and finds a crowd of crying people rather than his plane. Yahaira is called to the principles office to be told her father has died in a plane crash. Papi’s secret begins to unravel, and as the plane sinks to the floor of the ocean the girls lives are irrevocably altered. Then they find out about one another’s existence.

How can you lose an entire person, only to gain a part of them back in someone entirely new?

Clap When You Land is told with a dual narrative drawing out the grief of the two sisters and the impact of their father’s death as their lives are drawn closer together. The prose is exquisite – especially to listen to as an audio book read by the author and Melania-Luisa Marte. Clap When You Land is a beautiful and compassionate exploration of family secrets, the effects of socio-economic differences and toxic masculinity.

Maybe anger is like a river. Maybe it crumbles everything around it. Maybe it hides so many skeletons beneath the rolling surface.

Highly recommended, I will definitely be seeking out more from this author.

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