By Sara Wecht, Librarian
I want to preface this talk by saying that I adore Elizabeth Acevedo and her work. After The Poet X came out, I began to pick up her books without even seeing what they were about. The Poet X was a beautiful novel written in prose. Clap When You Land is in a similar format. It alternates between two perspectives, all in poetry.
Camino and Yahaira don’t know each other, but they are connected by a fateful plane crash killing their father. You learn about the two sides of his life- one with Camino, and one with Yahaira. Yahaira lives in New York with her mother and lives next door to her girlfriend. Camino lives with her aunt in the Dominican Republic, where she attends a private school and helps her aunt as a healer. Her father’s death means a lot of things for Camino: she can’t afford her school; she can’t rely on her father’s reputation to protect her from sexual advances and implied forced prostitution; she probably can’t go to Columbia University and become a doctor; she probably can’t ever go to the states at all. Yahaira knows that her father had another wife. She lost all trust in him, but sorely misses him as well. Her grief, while valid, isn’t as life-shattering as Camino’s.
This book is about acceptance, loss, grief, poverty, and more. The two girls find out about one another and have to accept one another as family, though it’s difficult. They both deal with the loss and grief of their father, but Camino also deals with the loss of a life she could have had. Taking place in two different locations, this book is also about multicultural identity. Both girls want to visit the other’s home before they even know about each other. They struggle with embodying an identity that’s based on one particular culture. They have a longing for the other place as a missing piece to their identity due to their heritage.
Don’t worry. Things get better. That’s all I’ll tell you!
Below are more books by Elizabeth Acevedo that you may also be interested in.