Tuesday 26 May 2020

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

This ebook was gifted to me from Hot Key Books via Netgalley. 

The more books I read by Elizabeth Acevedo, the bigger the fan I become. The author has such a way with the words she writes and the characters she creates, that you find yourself completely absorbed in her stories. 

Clap When You Land is about two girls who live very different lives. Yahaira lives in New York City, has a girlfriend she loves and is a masterful chess player. She has also hasn't spoken to her father in a year. Camino lives in the Dominican Republic, she is an excellent swimmer and longs for the summer when she gets to see her father. Only her father doesn't arrive that summer, as his plane has crashed over the ocean. Yahaira and Camino's lives are so entwined and yet neither of them knows the other exists, until the plane crashes. It then becomes common knowledge that their father is the same person and has for many years had two wives and two families. 

The story unfolds as the girls come to terms with their lives changing for ever with the death of their father and the surprise knowledge that they are sisters. 

The book is told in a dual narrative and in free verse, which I adore. You get a clear picture of what life is really like for both characters. Yahaira has always had everything she wanted and Camino has had to fight for the things she needs. 

This book is beautifully written from start to finish. I found myself desperate for the girls to find and console each other in their time of need. The book deals with complicated families, of which there are many in the world. The girl's feel betrayed by their father because he had two families and two lives,  and as a reader, it would be easy to find fault with him. However, as you read the story, you realise why he lived the life he did and his thoughts were always with raising both daughters as well as he could. There happiness and education were always at the forefront of his mind.  I honestly couldn't hate him for what he did. 

What I found really fascinating about this story, is that it is loosely based on a true event. Not long after 9/11, an aeroplane crashed in Queens, New York. Ninety percent of the passengers were of Dominican descent and it rocked the community that lived in New York, but not long after if became old news. The author wanted that to be remembered and it is one of the reasons she wrote this book. 

If you haven't read a book by Elizabeth Acevedo yet, I would highly recommend reading one. She gives a voice to a community that doesn't really have one and is always a joy to read. 

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