I tore through this one so quickly, sobbing much of the time. I love Elizabeth Acevedo and she is without a doubt one of the best authors out right now, and clearly at the top of the YA stack. I got ahold of Clap When You Land as soon as I could after finishing The Poet X. It did not disappoint me one bit and was beautiful and stunning and heartbreaking.
The event that sets the story in motion is based on the real plane crash of AA587 on November 12th, 2001. The airplane crashed shortly after take-off from JFK. Everyone on board was killed.
For Yahaira Rios in NYC, she is called to the principal's office and learns of the crash from her mother. Her father has died.
For Camino Rios in the Domican Republic, she eagerly awaits the arrival of her father's flight from NYC, ready to spend another summer with him. Her father, too, has died.
So now the girls must navigate this strange new world, one without Papi, a man they both thought they knew. But his secrets, and his death, has changed both of their lives forever.
I was invested emotionally from the start. Watching both girls struggle to make sense of their new reality was heartbreaking and Acevedo's writing is so poignant and true-to-life.
The story is told in verse and the chapters alternate between Yahaira and Camino. Despite the fact that everything they thought they knew about their father has crumbled, both know that without a doubt, he loved them both very much.
This was the first book I read by Acevedo (and her debut) and I fell in love with her writing right then and there. She is another author on my shortlist of must-reads.
Like Clap When You Land, The Poet X is told in verse. It is a kind of coming-of-age novel, but so much more, about sixteen-year-old-Xiomara. She struggles to understand who her mother is and how her mother's religion has shaped both of their lives, really. Xiomara has many other issues she faces daily as well and all tie in together to form the basis of the story where she discovers slam poetry and suddenly the world has opened up for her.
Yet, Xiomara still deals with pressure on all sides, even as she pours all her frustration and anger and hopes and needs into the pages of her leather notebook. She keeps it close, knowing her mother would destroy it in a heartbeat if she ever read Xiomara's words.
This book is so beautiful and empowering, and I wish that every teen who feels so seen and unseen at the same time would read it and know that they are not alone. That the pressure of trying to be yourself and find your voice when so many factors are working against you, it will pass.
Both novels are excellent and highly, highly recommended.