Review: Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Clap When You Land follows Camino and Yahaira Rios – half sisters with incredibly different lives but bonded by a tragic event that rocks their worlds. Camino lives in the Dominican Republic while Yahaira is based in New York City. At the beginning gf the novel, they discover their father has died in a plane crash.

Despite the distance that separates them, they uncover what binds them. As they unearth secrets and each other, what follows is a painful yet beautifully written story of family and friendship. 

The sisters suddenly face complex, hidden truths. The dual narrative, written in verse, is both gripping and easy to read yet hard-hitting at the same time. The settings are vivid and you feel completely transported .

Yahaira played chess well as a child. Throughout the story, her experience of playing chess is referred to. She stops playing when she discovers a secret about her father but the lessons she has learned stay with her.

If the game taught me one thing.

it’s once you lift a pawn off the 


you have to move it forward. It 

cannot return where it was.

For me, this symbolised an ongoing theme throughout the story; the importance of moving forwards and having to tackle the future. This is at the same time as remembering who you are, where you’ve come from and your history.

I’d recommend the audiobook of this novel, narrated by Acevedo and Melania-Luisa Marte. It’s a powerful story that I got completely lost in. Heartbreaking and compelling – a coming of age story that must be heard. 

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