I don’t know if that is only me or other readers experience this too, but it feels like older I get it is harder to find books I will so easily proclaim as “perfect”, “amazing”, “favorite”. So when I say all of those things for the latest Elizabeth Acevedo novel, you can definitely be sure that I mean it with my whole heart.
Clap When You Land is a novel in verse and a great example of “own voices” in young adult literature. Written by Acevedo, daughter of Dominican immigrants in the USA, Clap When You Land tells a story about complex cultural identity and family ties. It starts with an airplane crash and a way how its consequences determine the lives of two seemingly unconnected teenage girls, Camino from the Dominican Republic and Yahaira from New York.
Lyrical and fluid writing gives a whole new level to the complexity of the story itself. Father and daughter relationship trope is unlike any other you have found in young adult novels. There is no blaming the parent for misgivings of the main character. There is no shifting of blame which is something that became an easy way out for many writers when bringing their characters to life needs a back story or explanation for their acts. Father is at the same time a mythical creature that makes everything better, but also human like anyone else and he is accepted with all his messed up choices that had an influence on two families.
Clap When You Land is also a story about sisterhood and the power of bonds between all women no matter where they are from. It is a love letter to your sister, mother, aunts, friends, lovers and midwives.
For a long time, Australian writer Melina Marchetta (Jellicoe Road, Saving Francesca, Looking For Alibrandi…) was my absolute favorite, but Elizabeth Acevedo is the closest to take over the title of favorite. I have Poet X and With The Fire On High ready on my Kindle which means that we will have a winner in the next couple of weeks.