Clap When You Land

- Elizabeth Acevedo


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.



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.
I know too much of mud.


enjoyable/easy to read:
There are a lot of good components here, but they got a little lost in the attempted execution.

Acevedo’s writing is incredibly beautiful – which is no surprise after The Poet X – she knows how to drive deep down to the soul of a concept and translate it onto the page in verse. So many moments require a pause to let them sink in and appreciate them before you can move on to the next line. It’s almost entirely subconscious – I’d suddenly come back to the page unaware I’d been ruminating on a line or phrase. I almost had to remind myself to keep reading.

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.
But what happens when those principles
only apply in a game? & in the real world,
I am not treated as a lady or a queen,
as a defender or opponent
but as a girl so many want to strike off the board.

Unfortunately, the flipside to this is that it sometimes feels Acevedo will not move on from a moment. There’s so much repetition that it’s hard to tell if you’re reading in circles or if the narrative is being sacrificed for the verse.

I enjoyed Clap When You Land, but it didn’t feel as moving, as consequential, as The Poet X. It may be unfair to compare the two, but I’ve only read one other novel in verse and Clap When You Land would also suffer in comparison to the storytelling and beauty of The Ghosts of Rose Hill. Unfortunately, Clap When You Land got a little caught up in its own story and seems to have forgotten to tell it.



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