THE PLOT: Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo is about two sisters who don’t know the other exists. Camino has grown up in a barrio in the Dominican Republic and dreams of studying medicine in America. Yahaira is a New York City chess champion, who doesn’t know what she wants since a distressing incident on the subway. When their father dies in an aeroplane crash, the sisters discover each other and their father’s secret double lives.
RATING: Despite being excited to purchase this book, I became wary when I first opened it. I hadn’t realised it’s written in non-rhyming verse and I was afraid it would be a case of style over substance. However, it quickly won me round and I can appreciate how the unusual style adds to the book’s sense of atmosphere and pacing. So, I’m giving it four stars as it was an interesting Young Adult novel with a unique storytelling style.
GOOD BITS: The narrative has two points of view and I liked how the author distinguished between them by using couplets for Yahira and triple lines for Camino. The reader can immediately tell who is who by how the layout of the words on the page. The style also fitted with Camino’s sense of mysticism and voodoo. Additionally, I connected to the reflections on skin colour, including Haitians in the Dominican Republic.
NOT SO GOOD BITS: I felt like this book could’ve had an extra layer running throughout it. Each main character’s primary storyline was grief after the death of their father. However, Camino (the lead protagonist) also had a clear story goal and secondary storylines about a creepy guy and her best friend. Whereas, Yahaira’s secondary storylines about her girlfriend, the subway incident and chess weren’t strong enough and simply reinforced her main arc. Put simply, another storyline or goal for Yahaira would’ve added some extra spice.
OVERALL: This is a good book. Realistically, it’s not going to be in my top books of the year, but it’s a solid and enjoyable novel. I’d recommend it to those who love Young Adult, or are thinking of writing their own YA novel. However, give it a miss if your TBR’s already too long.