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The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Clap When You Land, by Elizabeth Acevedo (The Poet X), is a moving novel in verse about two half-sisters who find out about each other after their dad dies in a plane crash. The title is based on the Dominican tradition of clapping when a plane safely lands at its destination, and the book is dedicated to the lives lost on American Airlines flight 587, which was headed to the Dominican Republic and crashed in Queens, New York, in 2001. The story delicately handles the death of a parent, a plane crash, stalking, sexual harassment, and sexual assault. Yahaira is a lesbian, and her girlfriend is African American. Camino's best friend is Haitian. Girlfriends kiss during the story, and characters use variations of "ass," "f--k," "s--t," "hell," and "bitch." There are some insults in Spanish, plus brief mentions of cigars, beer, Johnnie Walker, rum, and whiskey.
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What's the story?
In CLAP WHEN YOU LAND, Camino Rios can't wait for her dad's plane to land, but when she arrives at the airport, there's no sign of him, and she doesn't know yet why everyone there is crying. At the same time in New York City, Yahaira Rios learns that her dad's plane has crashed on the way to the Dominican Republic. Neither girl knows about the other, but their lives are forever changed as family secrets start to unravel, and they realize there's more to their beloved Papi than they knew.
Is it any good?
Elizabeth Acevedo's moving novel in verse powerfully explores grief, complicated family relationships, and forgiveness, making it a must-read for teens. Some readers might not be familiar with or remember the American Airlines flight 587 tragedy, but Acevedo's story reflects the pain, anguish, and heartbreak that was felt throughout the Dominican community. Clap When You Land brilliantly alternates between the girls' perspectives and with such distinct voices that by the time the girls are together in the Dominican Republic, there's no longer a need to label each chapter other than by the number of days since Papi's tragic death.
Acevedo delicately handles tough topics such as the loss of a parent and sexual assault, and her deliberate placement of words on the page emphasizes Camino's and Yahaira's emotions. As the girls unravel Papi's secrets, teens will see the importance of communication, compassion, and empathy.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the various kinds of diversity in Clap When You Land. Why are diverse representations important in children's and young adult literature?
Why do you think the author chose to write this story as a novel in verse? Was it easier or harder for you read in this form? How would the book have been different if it had been written in prose?
How does this story compare to other books that deal with grief? What others have you read?
- Author: Elizabeth Acevedo
- Genre: Coming of Age
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Quill Tree Books
- Publication date: May 5, 2020
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 18
- Number of pages: 432
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 12, 2020
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