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Clap When You Land

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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.

Papi's death uncovers all the painful truths he kept hidden, and the love he divided across an ocean. And now, Camino and Yahaira are both left to grapple with what this new sister means to them, and what it will now take to keep their dreams alive.

In a dual narrative novel in verse that brims with both grief and love, award-winning and bestselling author Elizabeth Acevedo writes about the devastation of loss, the difficulty of forgiveness, and the bittersweet bonds that shape our lives.

417 pages, Paperback

First published May 5, 2020

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About the author

ELIZABETH ACEVEDO is a New York Times bestselling author of The Poet X, With the Fire on High, and Clap When You Land. Her critically-acclaimed debut novel, The Poet X, won the 2018 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. She is also the recipient of the Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Fiction, the CILIP Carnegie Medal, and the Boston Globe-Hornbook Award. Additionally, she was honored with the 2019 Pure Belpré Author Award for celebrating, affirming, and portraying Latinx culture and experience.

Her books include, Beastgirl & Other Origin Myths (YesYes 2016), The Poet X (HarperCollins, 2018), & With The Fire On High (HarperCollins, 2019), and Clap When You Land (HarperCollins, 2020).

She holds a BA in Performing Arts from The George Washington University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland. Acevedo has been a fellow of Cave Canem, Cantomundo, and a participant in the Callaloo Writer’s Workshops. She is a National Poetry Slam Champion, and resides in Washington, DC with her love.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 15,232 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,993 reviews298k followers
May 12, 2020
A queen
offers her hand to be kissed,
& can form it into a fist
while smiling the whole damn time.

Perhaps what I love most about Clap When You Land, besides the author's obvious talent for writing moving free verse, is that it brings attention to something that so many of us forgot about or never heard about. Tragedies happen all the time. Some are noticed, when they are newsworthy and drenched in politics-- terrorism, school shootings, for example --but some are left to be grieved only by those directly affected. The rest of the world goes on as normal, not seeing the pain inflicted on the community in question.

In November 2001, flight AA587 crashed to the ground on its way to Santo Domingo, killing 265 people on a flight where 90% of the passengers were Dominican or of Dominican descent. Noting that it was not another terrorist attack, the media largely ignored it, but it was a terrible blow to the New York Dominican community.

Clap When You Land is the story of two girls - Camino and Yahaira - one in the Dominican Republic and one in New York City. They have never met, never spoken, never known about each other's existence, but when their father is killed in a plane crash on his way to visit Camino, they find each other in the midst of their grief.

Both girls have their own struggles, but Camino is especially threatened without her father to protect her. Now the local pimp, a man called El Cero, is hanging around, following her. All she wants is to escape, study premed, have a chance at something better. Then along comes Yahaira and turns her life upside down, changes everything she thought she knew about her father.
So he created a theater of his life
& got lost in all the different roles he had to play.

This is another part of the book and I thought it was done really well. Part of the girls' discovery of each other is also the discovery that maybe their father wasn't quite the man they thought he was. That he was more complex, had many flaws. That even though he was a good father, he might not have been a good husband. In this, the book is something of a bildungsroman. Both girls are matured by the intensity of the loss and the discoveries made after.

It is a beautiful story that finds a lot of warmth and hope in the darkness of loss. My only complaint is that Camino and Yahaira's voices were a little too similar. I found it especially hard to distinguish the two in the beginning and had to look for other markers to remember whose chapters we were on. But it's a small complaint.

Highly recommended for those who enjoyed The Poet X and other novels in verse.

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Profile Image for chai ♡.
322 reviews156k followers
August 12, 2022
This book should definitely cement Acevedo's place as one of the brightest YA writers around.

Tender, patient, and raw as a wound, Clap When You Land burrowed deep under my skin. This is one of the most moving explorations of grief that I've ever read, a deep-dive into the lightless depths of what it means to lose something and be utterly unable to move on—not only a literal person, but also a way of life. A space yawns open in the lives of Camino Rios and Yahaira Rios after their father dies in a flight crash, an absence made even more acute by the truths it reveals: Camino and Yahaira are half-sisters who didn't know of each other’s existence. For sixteen years, their father had been living a double-life, keeping his two families cleanly separate, unaware of each other. And now gone and it's just the two daughters, hunting in the rubble of his life for answers, trying to find their way to each other across the many distances that divide their two worlds.

This is Cami and Yaya’s story of unbearable grief and contemptuous longing—the novel alternating between their voices—but you are in there too, and that makes their loss your loss, the ache your ache, the anger you anger, and the shape of their father's secrets something you too must process and come to terms with yourself. This owes in huge part to Acevedo's deft, tender characterization and the tremendous empathy she artfully infuses her novel with, offering the reader so many questions, but not giving any direct or easy answers. How can Cami and Yaya love their father and mourn him and at the same time wonder if they can ever really forgive him? How can they reconcile the loving, attentive father with this newly revealed side of him: the terrible husband and the selfish man? Does one side cancel out the other? Will Cami and Yaya ever be able to think of him and see only the word “father” and not the terrible things he left behind?

The novel also handles other thematic notes with so much clarity and grace; namely the question of identity, what it means to grow up in a world you felt only halfway inside of and constantly question your claim to your parents’ roots when you’ve never set foot in their world. “Can you be from a place you have never been? You can find the island stamped all over me, but what would the island find if I was there?” the novel asks, “Can you claim a home that does not know you, much less claim you as its own?” There's also a very astute interrogation of how different tragedies are portrayed in the media, particularly when they touch a minority community: how those stories tend to be quickly robbed of their edges, minimized, or entirely ignored even while those communities are still wrestling with the unutterable weight of loss.

In short, this is a novel that tugged at many of my heartstrings, and I cannot recommend it highly enough!
Profile Image for Zoë.
328 reviews65.8k followers
May 6, 2020
Elizabeth Acevedo books are such a joy to read, and this was no exception! Though it dealt largely with grief following a tragedy, the audiobook felt like such a comfort. I loved the two narrators (both the characters and the actual audiobook narrators) and how their stories were mirror images but also very personal. Highly recommend!
Profile Image for Cindy.
407 reviews116k followers
June 26, 2020
Acevedo writes poetically and passionately like always, and her audiobooks are always great. The book explores themes of grief, family, and cultural differences that would be great for her young adult audience to read.

Personally, I would have enjoyed a deeper exploration of grief and the way both girls grapple with the complexities of their family stories. There’s a lot to tap into there, but their voices were quite similar to the point where it became difficult sometimes to remember who was speaking. This made more sense when Acevedo reveals in her author’s note that she hadn’t made the decision to split into two POVs until later on, so the two protagonists didn’t feel distinctive enough.

The sister relationship also has a lot of potential to be explored more deeply, but we barely got to see them spend much time interacting with each other and coming to terms with one another. I wish more time had been devoted to the relationship between the two protagonists rather than spending 2/3 of the book reading a repetition of their same reactions.

Still a very solid YA book and would recommend to teens.
Profile Image for Chelsea (chelseadolling reads).
1,479 reviews19.5k followers
July 18, 2020
Every time I read an Elizabeth Acevedo book, I think that it can't possibly top her previous work, but every time I am so, so wrong. This is my favorite of Acevedo's works yet. I very rarely cry while listening to audiobooks, but this one had me sobbing while washing dishing and I just loved it so fucking much. I recommend this book to absolutely EVERYONE.

TW: death of a parent, plane crashes, stalking, sexual assault
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,307 reviews44k followers
July 16, 2022
This is so poignant, lyrical, heartfelt, well-conceived, true to life, sublime, extremely emotional novel about two sisters’ bounding story who never knew each other till an unexpected accident shatters their lives and takes their father away from them.

Elizabeth Acevedo’s poetry combines with the heartwarming story based on true events: on November 2001, American Airlines Flight 587 flight was regularly scheduled to fly from JFK International Airport to Las Americas Airport in Santa Domingo but it crashed into Belle Harbor/on the Rockaway Peninsula of Queens, took 260 people’s lives and nearly %90 was Dominican and of Dominican descent. Tragedy might be forgotten but it truly affected the lives and shaken Dominican community of New York to the core. According one of the writers of NY Times: For Dominicans: those journeys to the home were defining their complex push-pull relationship with their homeland.

At the very same accident: two girls lost their father. Camino lives in Dominican Republic and Yahaira lives in NY. Camino goes to the airport to summon her father and after seeing the crying crowds of people, she startles in shock, in the meantime in New York, Yahaira is summoned to the principal’s office to get the tragic news.

They don’t have enough time to digest the news when they learn double life of their father. Now they are dealing with their grief, starting to learn about each other, trying too hard to adapt in their new lives. They also need to accept the fact their father is not the perfect man they adored. Only true thing may help them move on their lives: he really loved both of them.

Especially Camino’s new life conditions will be more challenging because she lives in a dangerous territory, chasing by a man named El Cero who is a local pimp. She just wants to lay low and survive, studying premed and being a normal teenager.

This is so intense story consisting sensitive elements like sexual assault, grief, plane crush, betrayal, dysfunctional family dynamics. Sometimes you feel the burning sensation coming from your heart during your read and you want to stop for taking few breaths because the characters already conquered your soul and it’s so natural to ache and deeply care for them. But at the end: all those suffering and emotional stress you endured are truly worth it because this is unique and beautiful sisterhood story brighten your mood and it is one of the best young adult fiction novels of the year.

Overall: I enjoyed it and I highly recommend it.

Profile Image for emma.
1,869 reviews54.5k followers
December 21, 2022
Me on Goodreads: ew, haha...poetry is gross

Me in person when a man is telling me that poetry is gross: Would you say a song without music is gross? Would you call lyricism gross? Would you call prose that uses metaphor and style and meter meaningfully gross??? Or do you just think you're too cool????

Me writing this review: Okay, poetry is good sometimes, actually.

I have read Elizabeth Acevedo's prose before...and it wasn't my favorite. I have read poetry before and been super-picky about it. I have read books that were that weird kind of prose-y poetry and haven't liked them either.

But I liked this one!

That's all I have to say.

Bottom line: I have been converted. But only for this one example.


maybe poetry is actually good sometimes. like when i can read a 400 page book in under 2 hours, for example.

review to come / 4 stars

tbr review

update: this buddy read was canceled when 3 out of 4 of us didn't want to read poetry. kind of iconic of us wouldn't you say


please don't ask when i realized this book is written in poetry (but it was after i started)

buddy read with my three favs
Profile Image for Warda.
1,208 reviews19.7k followers
July 15, 2020
4.5 🌟

Elizabeth Acevedo and her words are something else. Something special that is needed and I’m so grateful that it’s out there. In book form no less as well.
This story was so moving and heartfelt, addled with grief, loss and having your world altered due to death and family secrets. All of this came together in verse.

I can’t praise Acevedo enough for the way she puts words together. I love that there’s something about it that makes you pause and reflect. I love the Spanish language that is interwoven giving the story more heart, lending it more authenticity and even though you might not understand it, you still understand it. (And if you don’t, then google translate, honey.)

The Dominican proverb set the tone for this story really nicely; in order to get to the heart of something, in order for truth to thrive, layers have to be peeled, because secrets buried will eventually be uncovered.
Or in this case the preferred method that life chose was to shock the system and turn your comfort zone on its head by sticking a knife through it.

Trigger warnings for grief/death and sexual harassment.


I don’t need to read the blurb to know that I will be reading this book.
No diggety, no doubt.
Profile Image for Reading_ Tamishly.
4,452 reviews2,410 followers
March 19, 2022
Acevedo is at the top of her game.
This one will be hard to beat in the years to come or even decades to come.

I do not usually like books written in verse. But when it comes to this author, I like it more when it's in verse. She's so good at this!

Everything makes sense about this book. The cover, the title, the story, the characters, the ending.

I have loved the book written in verse 'The Poet X" years ago when it came out and I was in the middle of reading her other book 'With The Fire On High' which came out just last year.

Each of her book tells a very different story but nevertheless similar stories of girls with multicultural backgrounds and the lives of these girls on what they have to face through normal days.

But this particular book turned out to rip my heart into pieces (I wasn't expecting that!).

The story deals with the sudden demise of a father in a plane crash (based on the September 11, 2001, flight AA587 crash).

The book is the story of a girl's journey of her grieving process and how she discovers some of the most painful secrets her family but also finding something precious which would completes her in the end.

There's another girl who's going through the same road as hers in another part of the world.

This is the story of Camino and Yahaira.

The story is wholesome, painful yet hopeful.

*Book in verse
*Sexual assault in some parts
*Lgbtq representation done well

I don't remember how many times I had to put down the book because I was sobbing senseless while reading it 😭

Clap When You Land, what have you done to me???!

(you can now drown in my ocean of tears I cried since page 1).
Profile Image for Whitney Atkinson.
940 reviews14k followers
July 6, 2020
i love elizabeth's writing, so so much. this book knocked it out of the park once again. from the format to the characters to the setting, this book is lifelike and resounding. great exploration of heritage and family and different life experiences, and the first book i've read set in the dominican republic. if you liked the poet x, i highly recommend this.
Profile Image for leynes.
1,116 reviews3,033 followers
August 18, 2023
Rereading this book was the best decision of my reading year thus far, apart, maybe, from finally picking up a Toni Morrison novel. Last year, I listened to the audiobook for Clap When You Land and felt somewhat disappointed. Elizabeth Acevedo is one of my favorite writers, so a lukewarm 3 stars just didn't feel right. On my first listen, I couldn't really connect to any of the characters, and the girls' voices sounding eerily similar, so much so that I was unable to distinguish them most of the time.

When I voiced my frustration, a lot of people reached out to tell me that I definitely need to READ the book in order to properly enjoy it. And boy, ya'll were right. Reading this book was a whole 'nother experience. It was magical. I was sucked into the story. Both of the girls became incredibly precious to me. I gasped. I sobbed at the ending (literal tears streaming down my face). I devoured the book, and it has honestly become one of my new favorites of all time!

I think what stood out to me the most is that upon my reread, I focused on wholly different things. During my listen of the audiobook, I was preoccupied with keeping the two sisters apart, and was mainly focused on the plot surrounding the death of their father, and their mourning and grieving periods. And a lot of that fell flat for me. During my reread, however, I decided to focus on another thing entirely: the disparity of these two girls, one who grew up with her mother in the United States, and the other who grew up in the Dominican Republic with her aunt.

I tabbed all the passages in which life in the DR and/ versus the US was explored, and all the important issues that Clap When You Land raises. And boy, let me tell you, I tabbed a whole fucking lot. So, let's get into it!

The difference between the sisters is established from the start. The book opens with a powerful passage from the perspective of Camino:
I know too much of mud.
I know that when a street doesn’t have sidewalks
& water rises to flood the tile floors of your home,
learning mud is learning the language of survival.
As a girl from Germany, I know nothing of mud, or floods, or survival really. For Camino, though, living in the DR, that's her daily bread. In her first chapter, we meet her as she accompanies her aunt Tía, who works as a local healer, to a woman who suffers from cancer. Camino, at age 16, tends to the patient. And Acevedo invites us into Camino's thoughts and innermost wishes: to move to the US to attend medical school. She wants to become a "proper" doctor.
Every year for my birthday he asks me what I want.
Since the year my mother died, I’ve always answered: 

“To live with you. In the States.”
It is also established that she doesn't feel safe in her neighborhood, amongst the people who should be her community. We see Camino face cat-calls (and other much more severe forms of sexual harassment, as we later learn^^) on the streets. We see the reality of what it means to grow up in a female body without a father (or male guardian).
I am so accustomed to his absence
that this feels more like delay than death
Rereading Camino's opening chapter was like a sucker punch to my stomach. It made me incredibly sad. Camino's helplessness from the start was painful to witness. As a reader, I had to face my own privilege(s). I never had to face what it feels like to literally have no future in your own home country.

My reality mirrors more Yahaira's, whom we meet in the next chapter. Yahaira lives in New York. And the way we are introduced to her shows the stark contrast between these girls. We meet Yahaira at school, listening to her girlfriend talk about "climate-change protests", while she is flipping through a magazine. The irony is not lost that we've just left Camino's POV of illness, floods and hurricanes. For Yahaira, if she considers these problems at all, they are abstract, not palpable. And whilst Camino is helping her aunt care for the sick people of their neighborhood, Yahaira tells us that: "I hang out every Saturday with Dre, / watching Netflix or reading fashion blogs".

The disparity of the girls is also shown in the way they both learn about their father's death. Camino learns of the plane crash directly at the airport, because she wanted to pick up her father. She is in shock, yet has to walk home all by herself. Whereas Yahaira is called to the principal's office where her mom waits for her to tell her of the horrible incident. Yahaira, in contrast, gets picked up from school and is driven home by her mother.

I think it's very clever how Acevedo establishes within the first two chapters that we are dealing with two very different people, and two very different sets of circumstances. I don't know why that didn't hit me as hard during my listen of the audiobook, but during my reread, it was blatantly obvious that Clap When You Land is, amongst other things, a brilliant commentary on privilege, and one we don't see very often, as it doesn't hinge on the question of race, but rather on the place where you were born and live.

In Camino's next chapter, we learn more about her and her life in the DR. We learn that only through her father's life (and job) in the US were they able to have iron locks on their doors, running water in their home, and a working bathroom ... things that distinguish Camino and her aunt Tía from the rest of their neighborhood—things that for Yahaira, and for me, are the most normal thing in the world. Camino also says flat-out that she is 100% financially dependent on her father: "without his help life as we’ve known it has ended."

We also learn that Camino lives amongst hustlers, people her father gave money to to keep an eye on her. One hustler, El Cero, is a central figure in her story:
& I’ve known that from the moment I turned thirteen
Papi paid El Cero a yearly fee to leave me alone.
But the last few months, I’ve felt his eyes on my back.
Early on, Acevedo establishes that he's a threat, and the main reason why Camino feels unsafe where she lives. I also appreciate that Acevedo didn't shy away from including topics such as sex tourism, forced prostitution and human trafficking in her YA novel:
El Cero hustles bodies; eagle-eyed young girls
from the time they are ten & gets them
in his pocket with groceries & a kind word.
When those girls develop & show the
bud of a blossom, he plucks them for his team.

Word on the street is El Cero always gets a first taste
of the girls who work for him. Before he gussies them up
& takes them by the resort beach in cut-off tanks & short shorts

so the men from all over the world who come here for sun
& sex can give thumbs-up or-down to his wares. His women.
Not women, yet. Girls.
Later in the book, Camino explains further:
Even the women, girls like me,
our mothers & tías, our bodies
are branded jungle gyms.

Men with accents pick us
as if from a brochure to climb
& slide & swing.
This storyline surrounding El Cero wanting to pressure Camino into prostitution was horrible to read about, since it's the reality for so many girls. His character made me feel sick to my stomach. And it's just so distressing that he is the reason why Camino knows there is no safe future for her in the DR. Camino lets us know why the beach and the sea are so important to her:
it has saved my life on the many days
when I need a reminder the world is bigger
than the one I know, & its currents are always moving;

when I need a reminder
there is a life for me beyond the water
& that one day I will not be left behind
We then jump back into Yahaira's POV, and I was happy to realise that another reason why the girls' POVs were easier to distinguish whilst reading the book is the fact that Acevedo switched up her writing style: Yahaira's chapters feel a lot more lighthearted, especially in the beginning. Yahaira tells us of her girlfriend Dre, and it's wonderful to see a happy, and healthy lesbian relationship in a YA novel. It was also good to see that Yahaira's mother was very accepting of this relationship, even though her father never realised that Dre was actually her girlfriend.

Through Yahaira, the question of identity for people in the diaspora is raised: "If you asked me what I was, / & you meant in terms of culture, / I’d say Dominican. / No hesitation, / no questions about it. / Can you be from a place / you have never been? / You can find the island stamped all over me, / but what would the island find if I was there? / Can you claim a home that does not know you, / much less claim you as its own?" It's such a complex and interesting topic, and I'm glad Acevedo didn't shy away from addressing it in her book!

When we see Camino again, we are introduced to her friend Carline, who is pregnant, but still has to work endless hours since her family needs the money to eat. Through Carline, Acevedo doesn't just address the topic of teen pregnancy but also the discrimination that Haitian people face in the DR. When Carline goes into labor, Camino notes: "Carline should be in a hospital, / but Maman says the babe is coming too fast, / & they panicked thinking of the logistics. / It is not an easy thing to do, / for a Haitian parent to bring their child / to a Dominican hospital to give birth. / There is already a lot of tension around / who here deserves care; I cannot fault Maman / for being too afraid."

This is also the chapter in which Camino has to reconcile her endless love for her home country ("This everyday kindness in my home. / Even if I could leave, / how would I stomach it?") with the safety hazard that El Cero poses on her life, as he begins following her, stalking her on the beach, and approaching her more and more aggressively. As with any work of Acevedo's, she finds just the right words to describe how it feels to be helpless, violated and vulnerable:
I am glad I am near home,
that there are houses beyond the clearing,
Because in this moment, I am a girl a man stares at:

I am not a mourning girl. I am not a grieving girl.
I am not a parentless girl. I am not a girl without means.
I am not an aunt’s charity case. I am not almost-alone.
There are two things that I didn't like about how the sexual harassment was handled in the story though: 1) There is a scene in which Camino wants to reach out to her aunt Tía to tell her about El Cero, but before she gets the chance, Tía accuses her of having let El Cero on, of inviting him into her life. And that scene rubbed me the wrong way because it was so out of character for Tía. It makes no sense that she would seriously think Camino would’ve hung out with El Cero voluntarily. Tía knows he’s a pimp, and that Camino’s father used to pay him money, so that he would leave Camino alone.

Acevedo uses this scene as a tool to make Camino feel more isolated and ashamed of what's happening to her ... and honestly? I hate that. I wish more YA books would push the message that opening up about your problems is actually PREVENTIVE and HELPFUL. But instead, Acevedo lets it come to El Cero nearly raping Camino in a "thrilling" showdown at the end of the book. Ugh. ISSA NO FROM ME!

And 2) The fact that Camino constantly goes back to the fucking beach, even though she knows that El Cero will be there, and will approach and harass her. I'm not victim blaming her, it just makes no sense to me why Camino would put herself willingly in this very unsafe environment because literally EVERY TIME (!) she goes to the beach to swim, El Cero assaults her in a way. And I know that Acevedo really honed in the message that Camino lOvEs SwImMinG and needs the sea ... but gurl? Really?

I also found it interesting how gentrification comes up in both POVs. Yahaira notices the gentrification in New York: in the area where her tight-knit Dominican American community used to live hipster cafes and bars have sprung up. Meanwhile, Camino notes: "Our land, lush & green, is bought / & sold to foreign powers so they can build / luxury hotels for others to rest their heads."

And it's topics like these that Acevedo incorporates so flawlessly into the narrative. Even though they aren't the focus of the story of the story, it feels natural (and authentic) that they're there, likewise with the topic of police brutality in the US (Yahaira mentioning her coping mechanism when yet another video of a Black boy being shot, or a Black girl being pulled over are trending on social media) or the problem of colorism within BIPOC communities ("The aunts & uncles who said my mom / should have married a lighter-skinned man").

I also loved seeing unravel how the two girls finally learned of each other, and what they thought of each other before interacting, and how they grew to respect and love each other once they met. I found it especially believable that Camino had, initially, a very bad opinion of Yahaira, thinking "Maybe she is busy / being rich & hanging out with her mother / & not thinking about me."
I think I hate this sister
She messages me
that she has acquired a plane ticket.

& how easy she says it.
Because it wasn’t endless paperwork,
Because no one wondered if she would

want to overstay her visa.
The years my father tried
to get me to the States,

& that girl over there fills out a short form,
is granted permission, given a blue book—
shit, an entire welcome mat to the world.
It isn't fair that Yahaira has access to so many things Camino doesn't. It's natural that she feels envy and resentment towards her. I also found it interesting to see their intercultural misunderstandings: "She asks if I can pick her up from the airport. / & I want to ask her what car she thinks I have. / Or maybe she imagines like a mule / I will sling her across my back?" It's clear that Yahaira didn't mean anything bad when she asked Camino to pick her up, but it's also understable that Camino would interpret that in a less favorable way.
Tía’s voice has come
to take me
all these women
here to take me
It was beautiful to witness the girls getting closer once Yahaira actually landed in the DR for the funeral. When, at the end, she is the one who saves Camino (alongside with her mother being a baddy and Tía wielding a fucking MACHETE being readyyy to kill El Cero), thinking "We must protect Camino at all cost", I sobbed, because it was so believable. And Camino getting the opportunity to live in the US with her sister didn't feel flat or constructed (as it did when first listened to the audiobook). It made a lot of sense. It's what she had wanted all along: pursuing her dreams, going to medical school, and having a family.

I could go on and on about this book but I'll leave it here!
Profile Image for may ➹.
494 reviews2,071 followers
October 4, 2020
Can you be from a place you have never been? You can find the island stamped all over me, but what would the island find if I was there? Can you claim a home that does not know you, much less claim you as its own?

Elizabeth Acevedo has done it again!! (it: almost making me cry)
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews157k followers
March 9, 2021

Just posted my Goodreads Choice 2020 Reaction Video on Booktube! Click the link to check it out!!
The Written Review
Camino Rios lives in the Dominican Republic. Every summer, her dad comes to visit and it's the highlight of the year.

Yahaira Rios lives in New York City. Every summer, her dad leaves her to "visit" family in the DR.

One horrible day, both Camino and Yahaira realize that their dad dies on a plane crash on his way to the DR. And then they learn of each other.

Stunned by the loss and reeling from the realizations, the half-sisters will have to learn what it truly means to be family.

This was a surprisingly good book.

I'm not normally one for contemporaries - and even less so for "sad" contemporaries...but I enjoyed this one.

There was a level of raw emotion and real despair rarely seen in a YA book and that was tempered by love and familial support.

The pacing did feel a bit slow and other events were too sped up for me but at the end of the day...I enjoyed this book.

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Profile Image for myo ⋆。˚ ❀ *.
821 reviews6,880 followers
June 20, 2020
Elizabeth Acevedo has done it again! I actually do think that she is one of my favorite authors because when she writes in verse, her work just touches me differently. The way she writes is just so beautiful and she has these one liners that just leave you thinking. This story of two sisters was absolutely amazing and i already want to reread so that i can annotate it
Profile Image for Jananie (thisstoryaintover).
290 reviews13.8k followers
July 15, 2020
excuse me while i cry over this beautiful book. Elizabeth Acevedo astounds once again. if you aren't reading her books then you robbing yourself of true heart and beauty. highly recommend the audiobook to hear the poetry aloud.
Profile Image for Gabby.
1,304 reviews27.9k followers
July 13, 2020
4.5 stars
Elizabeth Acevedo has done it again. This is a gorgeously written story told in verse, and I listened to the audiobook again which I think is the best way to consume her books. This story follows two sisters who are unaware that the other exists. They discover each other when their Father dies in a plane crash, one of them lives in New York and the other in the Dominican Republic. They both grieve as they realize their Father lived two lives. Like all of Elizabeth Acevedo's books this story is written so so beautifully and it touches on a lot of heartfelt, sensitive topics.

I especially loved this one because I love stories that follow sisters and this format and story-telling style was really interesting, I liked going back and forth between their POV's. I also have a great relationship with my Dad and I could never imagine losing him, let alone going through what these girls have to go through, I just felt so much for them and the audiobook actually made me tear up a few times. Anytime a book discusses the grief of losing a parent it really hits me hard because that's a pain I can't even begin to imagine.

Elizabeth Acevedo is one of the best YA writers out there right now. I'm rarely ever interested in reading YA anymore but I will always, always pick up her books.
Profile Image for Claudia Lomelí.
Author 8 books76.8k followers
May 4, 2021
Creo que este me gustó más que The Poet X, pero ambos me han fascinado. La prosa de Elizabeth Acevedo es majestuosa. Si acaso creo que me hubiera gustado un epílogo, pero en general todo WOW.

Vira Lata the real MVP.
Profile Image for Charlotte May.
720 reviews1,114 followers
October 29, 2020
“I’m the child her father left her for in the summers. While she is the child my father left me for my entire life.”

Aw - I really liked this!

Yahaia and Camino both love their Papi. He is their idol, their hero and when he dies in a plane crash flying from New York to the Dominican Republic they are heartbroken.

What neither of them realises though, when they think about their Papi - is that they are both thinking about the same man.

A man who spent 9 months of the year in New York and then his Summers in DR. A man who kept hidden the fact he had two daughters to two different women.

This novel is heavily steeped in the grief the two girls feel and how they each come to terms with their father’s death but also the acceptance that he wasn’t a perfect person. He had secrets.

Reading about the Dominican culture was fascinating. I love it when books can teach me things without it even feeling like I’m learning. I was absorbed in the girls’ story.

I found the writing difficult at first as it is written in verse which is something I’m not accustomed to but pretty soon I was flying and I finished it in two days.

A wonderful tale about finding the good in the worst of times.

“Playing chess taught me a Queen is both: deadly & graceful, poised & ruthless. Quiet & cunning. A Queen offers her hand to be kissed, & can form it into a fist while smiling the whole damn time.”


Am I only just now adding all three of this authors books to my TBR because I have been living under a rock?

Yes. Yes I am.
Profile Image for elena ❀.
304 reviews3,166 followers
April 3, 2021
Dreams are like the pieces of fluff that get caught in your hair; they stand out for a moment, but eventually you wash them away, or long fingers reach in & pluck them out & you appear as what everyone expects.

When flight AA587 crashes to the ground, Camino and Yahairo Rios want nothing but to believe it was not the flight their father was in. Although for 16 years the two were not aware of each other, their father traveled back to the Dominican Republic every summer from living with Yahairo to being back with Camino. But when Camino is at the airport waiting for her father's bright smile and loud laugh, she didn't expect to see a crowd of crying people. In the states, Yahairo hears about her father's death when she is called to the principal's office, where her mother is waiting for her, with tears in her eyes, letting her know the tragic news.

With secrets their father left behind and unspoken words, the two girls find out about each other in unexpected ways, never thinking about how they might have had someone who shared their same features while being miles and miles away. To both of them, their father was their hero, but through sadness and tears, the two girls find comfort in each other, seeing and realizing how their father was not the man they thought he was.

Some things continue forever. Maybe anger is like a river, maybe it crumbles everything around it, maybe it hides so many skeletons beneath the rolling surface.

Poetry is not my friend, but Acevedo manages to make this novel more lyrical, while maintaining her tone of heartbreak, sadness, grief, agony, and anger through every verse. Clap When You Land is worth the hype. Although told in the form of poetry and dual pov, the tone of the novel catches you from the beginning, making you already quiver and ache in sadness as you read the sad news: A flight fell from the sky, which resulted in all passengers dying. There is something about the writing that Elizabeth manages to make you continue reading. The way she tells her story is similar to a regular novel, but at the same time, the rhythm is there.

I am not Dominican, but the constant descriptions of the food of la Republica Dominicana and the colors vibrating the island made me think of my second home, my parents home country, the land that saw them grow - El Salvador. From the descriptions of the food and spices to the small barrios and communities coming together, Elizabeth gives you an image of what the Dominican Republic is like. The stray dog, the community knowing each and every one, the remedies, herbs, teas, and Santos guarding you, it was beautiful to read of a country I have never physically seen, but could nonetheless imagine.

Can you be from a place you have never been? You can find the island stamped all over me, but what would the island find if I was there? Can you claim a home that does not know you, much less claim you as its own?

You can't do anything but root for the two girls, Yaya and Camino. The two thought of their father as their hero, never thought there was someone more inspiring than him, and the constant hurt they have to to go through after his death wrecks the reader. It is so common for children to find inspiration, ambition, and happiness from their parents, but sometimes we get too caught up on their perfections that we don't realize their imperfections. Although Yaya lived in NYC and Camino in DR, I rooted for both of them equally. Yaya, specifically, was hiding from her family, but you can't blame her. Finding out about this secret that you were not aware of isn't something lightly to take, and Yaya's anger and frustration is shown in every page. Her constant inspiration of her dad slowly died down, and you can feel the annoyance she later had for her dad. I rooted for her, and I was happy she had more comfort than only her mother.

On the other hand, Camino is struggling with her Tía. After her mother's loss, she has relied on her father to pay for her private school and has managed to grow into a strong and capable young woman thanks to her Tía, but her constant fear of El Cero grows each and every day as days pass by. She's being stalked by him, and now that her father is gone, she can't pay him to stay away. The anger you feel for her makes you want to just take El Cero apart, and it sucks how realistic the scenes of El Cero are for many young women in countries like DR. The constant grooming, catcalling, and assault becomes normalized to the point where the older people think it is just a relationship.

The jealousy Camino feels for Yaya in the beginning is discouraging at first. It is notably there, and Camino wishes she could not love Yaya because of the fortunes she has. She's angry that she's able to freely and easily travel to DR without any issues; angry that she has more open options for her future; angry that she still has a parent; angry that her father spent more time with her. The jealousy is there, but you can't get angry at Camino for it.

Yaya and Camino would sooner or later have to see that their father was not the perfect hero they painted him as, but instead he was flawed, and sadly he had to live two different lives that the other was not aware of. Their sister-hood grows, and the connection they have from the moment they meet is beautiful, evidence and proof that the 16 years of hiding could not disconnect them.

Is this what sisterhood is? A negotiation of the things you make possible out of impossible requests?

The mourning of Camino and Yaya's dad is felt so deeply, especially within the community. In cities like theirs, in both NY and DR, it is common for many Latinos to form their own groups, their community, and become attached to these people that come from similar places, from similar suffering. The loss of their father is felt within the communities, and the girls know it. They're given condolences, asked if there is anything the public can do for them, asked how they are doing, wondering how they can help. Candle lights are lit up in the areas, the girls are seen with sad and weary looks, and the anger the builds in them is painfully real. Deaths and tragic losses result in constant sorries and I'm sorry for your loss', but Yaya and Camino are tired of having to see these people go from strangers to people that suddenly know their pain, and it's frustrating how much people can change. It's like Yaya put it:
As Mami & I sit in the front row, people come up to us to pay their respects. Such a funny phrase, pay respects. As if suffering is a debt that can be eased by a hug & a head nod.

And you know, I was thankful both girls had sources to rely on, but especially Yaya. I think Acevedo's addition to Drea being her girlfriend was necessary, and I believe she did it really well. Drea was roaming Yaya's galaxy, and all Yaya could do is hold on to her. She was slowly floating away, hurting and dying in ache and pain, and Drea was able to pull her back. Their relationship was beautiful, and I know this story was not about them, so I was really glad that Elizabeth provided just enough scenes from them.

Camino's reliable source and most trusted person were her Tía and best friend, Carline, but her Tía holds a special place in my heart. She reminded me of my grandmother. My grandma Elena, small and grumpy, are and were important members of the community. I'm constantly told stories of my grandma and how everyone in her barrio respected her, called her Tía even if she wasn't their Tía. I've been told how quick she was, angry but kind, strong but soft-hearted. The most important and empowering women in my life have constantly told stories similar to Camino's Tía, and it was so beautiful to read about how necessary it is to be empowered, to be strong, to be resilient, and to remember that you do not come from a family that will take no for an answer. Camino and her Tía's relationship blended in so well, and the importance of family, love, and communication developed so well. We take advantage of the life we have at the moment, we never really realize when it could be taken away.

She has no idea what it means to completely abandon your dreams. She cannot. Because it seems what everyone has known but me is that I won’t be a doctor. I won’t ever be anything more than a girl from a small barrio who helps her aunt with herbs. & that might be the whole of my life. & that will have to be enough. Isn’t that what makes a dream a dream? You wake up eventually. But that girl, that girl gets to keep living in the clouds.

The book ends at the 430 or so page mark, but the poetry style of it makes you breeze through it. The writing is beautiful, having you hang on from every mark and page. With that being said, I really would have wished this was written in just a novel form. Acevedo's writing reminds me a little like that of Anna-Marie McLemore's - beautiful, inspiring, whimsical - but it was difficult for me to read it correctly because it's poetry. Adding on to that, I am aware Acevedo is a poet, therefore if she continues writing her future works in poetry, I wouldn't complain nor be surprised.

All in all, the love and praise Elizabeth Acevedo receives is deserved, and I can see why her books and words manage to grip the reader into continuing with her flow. It's easy and mellow, but at the same time it will sting your heart.
Profile Image for Virginia Ronan ♥ Herondale ♥.
547 reviews34.7k followers
October 16, 2021
"A truth you did not want
can put a collar around your neck

& lead you into the dark,
the places where all your
monsters live."

Every once in a while you read a book that totally surprises you and for me “Clap When You Land” definitely falls into this kind of category. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I opened this book but when I saw the writing style I was a little bit sceptical at first. The entire book is written like the quote above and I was worried this would dampen my enjoyment of the book. Little did I know that it would be the perfect way to enhance the impact of Yahaira’s and Camino’s story.

I swear I’ve never read anything like this before and it was so beautifully written that I just wanted to soak up those words and keep them close to my heart forever. Yahaira and Camino come from two totally different worlds. One of them lives in New York while the other one lives in the Dominican Republic. Their lives couldn’t have been any more different yet there is something they both have in common: Their unconditional love for their father.

”For the rest of my life I will sit & imagine
what my father would say in any given moment.

& I will make him up:
his words, his advice, our memories.”

Their father is everything to them. Their hero, their friend, their idol and so many other things you can’t even put into words. Well, and then he dies in a plane crash on his way to DC and the entire house of cards that was built on so many lies comes crashing down on them. Yahaira and Camino didn’t even know that they are half-sisters and after their father’s death layer after layer of his complicated life gets exposed. How do you grieve for your father once you discovered that he wasn’t the person you thought him to be? How do you deal with the aftermath of not only his unexpected and sudden death but also with the people he left behind? The people you didn’t even know are part of your family? How do you accept that the person you loved so dearly had a secret life in another country? And how do you forgive him for cheating on your mother if he isn’t even there to take the blame or to be confronted about it?

”All these lies that we’ve all swallowed,
they’re probably rotting in our stomachs.”

Elizabeth Acevedo explores all of those questions and tries to find an answer for her two protagonists. And she does it so gently and in such a kind manner that it’s impossible not to feel with those two girls. The situations they have to face are frightening and upsetting but they have to face them no matter if they want to or not and in the end both girls come out of it stronger. They aren’t just connected by blood but also by their love for their father and when push comes to shove that’s all that really matters.

”if a heart has topography,
I know none of these boys know the coordinates
to navigate & survive mine’s rough terrain.”


All told I really enjoyed “Clap When You Land” and I’m very glad I picked it up. This was a beautiful and sad story that broke my heart and kind of mended it again. It wasn’t just heart-warming but also encouraging and there definitely need to be more stories like that! This said: No matter what Acevedo writes next, I’ll make sure to have it on my radar!


I wanted to read “Clap When You Land” for ages and even spoke about it in my ”New Library Book Haul” video! Which I uploaded at the end of July. (Gosh I’m such a snail. *lol*)

So I guess it’s about time I finally start with this book!
The plot sounds super intriguing and I only heard good things so far. I’m very curious how this is going to play out. The format in which it’s printed is definitely very unique so I guess we’ll see how it reads.

Did any of you read this already and if yes, did you enjoy it? =)
Profile Image for Heather.
403 reviews16.9k followers
June 16, 2020
This book was amazing.
I love how it was written in verse. I'm usually not into books written in verse but this one was just so stunning.
The story of two teens living two different lives realize they have more than they think in common.
This book tackles so many things, race, grief, sexual assault, family, and more. It will be a book that sticks with you and the characters as well.
Profile Image for Mari.
708 reviews5,595 followers
July 16, 2020

If you asked me what I was,

& you meant in terms of culture,
I'd say Dominican.

No hesitation,
no question about it.

Can you be from a place
you've never been?

You can find the island stamped all over me.
but what would the island find if I was there?

Can you claim a home that does not know you,
much less claim you as its own?

Why you may not like this book: It's told in verse. Novels told in verse are by design told with economy. You'll find lots of reviews talking about that as if it is a lack rather than something you are signing up for. You may not like this if you need something more expansive. Also, this is a story that touches on a lot of topics, but if you are expecting a deep dive into any one of them, into the complexities of immigration, poverty, split families, adultery, island living, you won't enjoy this. This isn't a story meant to teach you about these things; these are realities for our two main characters, captured succinctly by Acevedo.

Why I loved this book: I've said about her other books, but it's a little heartbreaking to me that I'm reading these as an adult. I know they would've been transformative for me as a teen. That said, I'm filled with joy thinking of all the young Dominican girls and young Afro-Latinas who get to see their stories reflected WITH HAPPY ENDINGS.

There were so many moments and experiences that Acevedo captures that were things I've never seen or don't often seen explored in fiction. On page one she opens describing the mud of a rainy season in DR, but also the way culture and place leaves marks and tracks. Two things in this novel I especially loved: this story of a Dominican man living in the US, a family in each location, is one that isn't as uncommon as maybe people think. It's something I grew up hearing about, happening to women I knew. The infidelity and machismo that can be rampant in Dominican culture is a source of grief as it is in Clap When You Land, and we watch these two girls process that grief and the dueling realities of a man who was a good father, but a bad husband. I love that it puts that idea at the center of this story, and then populates it with all of these incredible and strong women. Secondly, this explores the diaspora from two ends: the way the island is stamped on first generation Americans, and the way that America sits in dreams of those on the island split from their families.

I'm a sucker for stories about grief, and unsurprisingly, Acevedo navigates it well. So many times, I felt the struggle of the narrators between what they knew to be true, what they should be doing, and what they were feeling. This is a snapshot of moments starting at the death of Camino and Yahira's father and tracking as they build a new reality.

I listened to this on audiobook because I love hearing Acevedo read her poetry. This has a second narrator in Melania-Luisa Marte, who also did a fantastic job. I read other reviews that struggled with differentiating between Camino and Yahira's voices, but that is something I didn't feel while listening.

Overall, another stunning entry from Acevedo, hands down one of the best authors writing currently, and deserving of every bit of praise she receives.
Profile Image for Mariah.
1,220 reviews449 followers
December 23, 2021
I’m gonna need Elizabeth Acevedo to crawl out of my soul because this is too much. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this woman is incapable of writing anything but 5 star masterpieces.

I can’t actually talk about this book without breaking down so I’m gonna leave it at that.

So this cover pops up in my feed and I'm like: "Wow".
And then I read the synopsys and my mind is like:
"Damn, this would probably be great in audiobook format, but maybe I'm just picturing this as an Elizabeth Acevedo type of thing."
And then I looked up to actually see who wrote this.
I swear to god you can *smell* this woman's talent.
Profile Image for Ashley Nuckles.
190 reviews7,201 followers
July 15, 2020
Duuuuuuude—how does Elizabeth Acevedo DO IT?!
If you were questioning whether to pick this book up, just do it. No questions asked. No ifs, ands, or buts.
Profile Image for Kezia Duah.
392 reviews344 followers
April 14, 2022
Wow umm... it's always awkward being in the minority. I know this was realistic, heartbreaking, and beautiful writing. I just....I didn't like any of the characters. They all suck. There I said it. I won't really write a full review because it would just be me judging the hell out of these characters, even though I damn know that the author intended this to be a story about a messy family. I'm glad that most of you liked this!!
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,514 reviews29.5k followers
June 20, 2020
Elizabeth Acevedo's new book, Clap When You Land , is a novel-in-verse about family, grief, anger, and letting go.⁣

Camino is a teenage girl living in the Dominican Republic with her aunt, who works as a healer. Her father, who lives in New York, comes to visit every summer, and Camino lives for those visits. Yet on the day his plane is to arrive and she waits for him at the airport, she learns that his plane has crashed.⁣

Another teenage girl, Yahaira, lives in New York. Her father goes home to the Dominican Republic each summer, which causes a strain on his relationship with her mother. One morning she is called out of her class and told by her mother that her father’s plane crashed.⁣

⁣Both girls are grief-struck, devastated by the loss of their father. Camino has dreams of going to college in New York and studying medicine, and now isn’t even sure how she and her aunt will survive, especially as a dangerous man she has been protected from all this time circles closer.⁣

⁣Yahaira, who discovered a secret about her father before he died, feels guilty, angry, and deceived, yet doesn’t know how to live without her hero. She tries to push everyone away.

⁣When the two girls learn of each other, it is a shocking discovery of a connection that wounds but might ultimately save them both.⁣

Clap When You Land is poignant, luminous, and powerful. Acevedo imbues her words with such vivid imagery and raw emotion. It didn’t quite hit me as hard as I expected it to given the subject matter, but it still was a book that will stick with me.⁣ Acevedo's two earlier books, The Poet X and With the Fire on High , are master works.

Check out my list of the best books I read in 2019 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2020/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2019.html.

Check out my list of the best books of the decade at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2020/01/my-favorite-books-of-decade.html.

See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com.

Follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.
Profile Image for Anne Bogel.
Author 6 books59.8k followers
January 4, 2022
The Poet X author Acevedo dedicates this novel in verse to the memory of the lives lost on American Airlines flight 587, the passenger flight that crashed en route to Santo Domingo from JFK on November 12, 2001. Taking this historical event as her leaping off point, Acevedo tells the story of two teenage girls—one in New York, one in Santo Domingo—who are shocked to discover they are sisters in the aftermath of the crash, when the truth of their father’s double life was unceremoniously revealed. The girls tentatively bond as they explore the love—and pain—they share. A lyrical, heartfelt exploration of what it means to discover secrets, to find family, and to discover your own hidden resources in the face of great loss, and surprising joy. Fantastic on audio.
Profile Image for Olivia (Stories For Coffee).
610 reviews5,658 followers
May 28, 2020
There comes a time when one stumbles upon a story that echoes all the pain, their anger, and the grief that has been swirling in one’s heart for years. One may think they are alone in these feelings until they find a book that mirrors all those emotions back to you. That is what Clap When You Land was like for me.

I’ve always been a fan of Elizabeth Acevedo’s works. She’s one of my favorite authors of all time. Each story she shares with the world has echoed feelings I’ve had but never truly explored or expressed to others. Not only are her writing and characters outstanding and utterly remarkable but the way she grapples with the various layers Latinx identity is something that I’ve never experienced before. She makes me feel seen in ways I cannot describe. I’m forever grateful for this story for reminding me that one isn’t alone in these various experiences.

Thank you, Elizabeth, for continuing to write beautiful prose, fascinating characters, and experiences that comfort the heart and mind and remind us we’re not alone. Thank you for your soothing voice and the passion you put into narrating your stories. (Please listen to her works on audiobook; she narrates them herself and is absolutely talented in that line of work)

• Two sisters: one born in NYC, the other in Dominican Republic come together once their father passes away in a plane crash
• Deals with trauma, familial secrets, grief, found family
• F/F relationship !

TW: Sexual assault (on page), stalking, death of a parent
Profile Image for Nataliya.
783 reviews12.5k followers
July 4, 2022
“I’m the child her father left her for in the summers.
While she is the child my father left me for my entire life.”
This is the book about families, and secrets, and love, and grief, and loss. It is a story of betrayal, and anger, and disappointment. This is a story of a world broken apart by a tragedy. It is a story about losing your heroes and finding your heroes.

This is also a story of class and privilege. A story of advantages that your birth place holds. A story of the difference money can make, and of the crippling grip of poverty and the hold it has over even the most determined lives.

This is also a story of dreams and wants and longings so strong that it hurts. It is strong and raw and tender and bruised.

It is a story of raw despair and cautious hope.

It is a story of love.
“So he created a theater of his life
& got lost in all the different roles he had to play.”

One summer day a tragedy happens, and lives are changed forever. A plane headed from New York to the Dominican Republic crashes into the ocean, and there are no survivors.
“But those of us from the island
will all know someone who died on that flight.”
Camino Rios, a Dominican girl, who loves swimming and dreams of being able to leave the island and escape the future of poverty and exploitation that is the destiny of so many around her (and the dangerous attention of a very dangerous person), loses her father on that flight. Yahaira Rios, a Dominican American New York girl, a former star chess player who carries the secret that knocked her father off the pedestal she had built for him, also loses a father on that flight. The girls have never met, but they share a bond built of betrayal of trust — their father, “[a] hustler. A no-nonsense street-smart guy”, a man who loved chess and swimming — and apparently also loved two women with whom he built simultaneous but separate lives in different countries which may as well be different worlds. A man who had two families, two daughters, two worlds that were forced together by his death.
“Papi will have two funerals.
Papi will have two ceremonies.

Papi will be mourned in two countries.
Papi will be said goodbye to here & there.

Papi had two lives.
Papi has two daughters.

Papi was a man split in two,
playing a game against himself.

But the problem with that
is that in order to win, you also always lose.”
If you ever had anyone you loved and trusted turn out to be a very different person from the one you knew, you will share the heartbreak of this book. If you had ever had your childhood hero and your rock not live to the expectations you built up, you’ll understand the pain. Because our heroes do not always live up to their own myths. Because even the most trusted ones are capable of lies and betrayals. Because the concepts of a “complicated person” and an “asshole” can sometimes overlap.
“My father having two families
is also not an uncommon story.
When Yahaira messaged me

she seemed unutterably betrayed.

As if she couldn’t believe this of Papi.
But me, I know a man can have many faces & speak out of
both sides of his mouth; I know a man can make decisions

based on the flip of a coin;
a man can be real good at long division,
give away piece after piece after piece of himself.”

But betrayal and heartbreak and tragedy can also help uncover something else. New ties, new heroes, new hopes. When one thing is lost, you can find something else worth fighting for.And those are things to be thankful for, to clap for when you land.
“I tell her that when we land
some people on the plane might clap.

She turns to me with an eyebrow raised.
I imagine it’s kind of giving thanks.
Of all the ways it could end

it ends not with us in the sky or the water,

but together
on solid earth
safely grounded.”

I’ve been raised with “traditional” poetry (until this, perhaps the only novel in verse that I ever read was Eugene Onegin), and to me it’s always been the same - the structure, the rhyme, the rhythm. I never cared much for verse, really. So this to me was a rather new and fresh experience. Written in free verse, it sounds like lyrical speech, a lyrical prose, a spoken word with different rhythms — nothing that my rigid understanding would have seen as poetry.

And I loved it.
It was done very well.
It won me over, slowly but surely.

I noticed that I read it differently that I usually do, actually sounding out each line in the mental voice instead of reading in chunks like I usually do — I guess like you *would* read poetry — and I loved it. And then I’d get distracted trying to imagine it written as a prose, without the line breaks that suggest the rhythm of reading — and still loved it. And then I realized that I got to the end without even noticing the verse anymore because it felt so organic. And that was perfect.

4 stars.

Recommended by: Emily May
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