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Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

May 4, 2020

 

I finished this ARC in March, I re-read it today, and I’ll be listening to it as soon as possible because if there is one thing you should do with an Acevedo book, it’s listen. Her writing is meant to be heard and spoken aloud so the reader can fully immerse themselves in her medium. If you can’t tell already, I have a bit of a library crush/author crush/ girl crush on Acevedo that started with the Poet X. I found it fascinating that with so few words, I could feel so much strength and importance in what someone wrote. Clap When You Land is no exception, and its power lies within the strength of two girls, on two continents, separated by an ocean. Acevedo pays homage to the country of the Dominican Republic and the remembrance of flight AA587. She was thirteen when it crashed in Queens, just two months after September 11. Because the flight’s demise had nothing to do with terrorism, it was quickly forgotten by the press. Ninety percent of the people who died (260 people on board) were Dominican, and it remains the United State’s second-deadliest aviation crash in history. I was twenty-six years old when this happened, an adult, and I have no memory of this in the days and months that I watched the news following September 11. This is why reading is essential. These parts of history that get sidelined for more important stories but still need to be told.

In Clap When You Land, Camino and her aunt live in the Dominican. Her Tia, the midwife and healer of her village, spends her days visiting the sick, giving them homemade medicines, and making sure they are well. Camino has followed her aunt for as long as she remembers, and her aspirations of becoming a doctor in America are evidence of this. Her mother passed away ten years ago, and Camino only sees her father for a few months each year. He lives in New York City, pays for her to attend a good school, and never misses her birthday. She dreams of the day he will take her there to live, but it’s a promise he never makes. On the day of his annual visit, Camino is at the airport when she and many others learn the fate of the plane that left New York City but never made it to the Dominican. Numb, she walks back to her village.

The same news is awaiting Yahaira, a Dominican girl living in NYC. Despite her strained relationship with her father, she will miss him. Her father is off to the Dominican for the summer, and she will see him when he returns. Except he doesn’t. And that’s not the worst of the news. The secret life her father harbored in the Dominican is something she’s prepared to hear, but learning she has a sister she’s never known about is a shock to the system. The two girls are wary of the other, but the pull of knowing what the other is like is too much for either, and soon Yahaira is on a plane to the Dominican. The same ill-fated flight her father took, except this time she’s able to clap when she lands, as is the tradition of the Dominicans.

Yahaira steps into Camino’s sleepy world. Camino’s Tia welcomes her, and the two girls slowly start to trust one another, even though they each harbor unspoken jealousy that will take more than a visit to resolve. The reunion is interrupted when Yahaira’s mother comes. She’s a ball of anger because Yahaira left without her knowing, and a mass of grief in returning to her home country and the memories of her husband with it. The last third of this book, when all four women are together, is the strongest. The relationship of all four women is tested by an unoriginal asshole, but Yahaira’s mother, someone I dismissed earlier in the story, proves me all kinds of wrong. She’s just as fierce as her daughter, and the consequences of an unfaithful husband cause her to make difficult decisions that will affect all of them. I admire her strength the most, especially since I thought it was hiding. Silly me, this is an Acevedo book. Of course, there will be AMAZING women in it!

Guys, there is so much more to talk about, but I'm not going to. Read it. Listen to it. You're going to love it, promise.

Thank you to Edelweiss for a copy of this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Nina O'Daniels

nodaniels@fz.k12.mo.us

Shannon Grieshaber

grieshaber.reads@gmail.com

Created in 2017