Clap When You Land

HarperCollins/HarperTeen. May 2020. 432p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780062882769.
Gr 9 Up–A deadly plane crash brings secrets to light and families together in this novel told in verse. Camino lives in the Dominican Republic where she spends her days swimming and serving as an apprentice to her aunt, a healer, as she makes house calls. Yahaira is a chess champ and lives in New York with her parents and next door to her girlfriend. Alternating between Camino and Yahaira’s perspectives, the story explores the grief of losing a loved one while discovering sisterhood. As details of the plane crash are revealed and arrangements are made for a funeral, Camino and Yahaira realize they are grieving for the same beloved father. Lush imagery and masterful characterization give readers a look at the lives of two 16-year-old girls whose worlds couldn’t be further apart, but who long for connection in the face of life-altering tragedy. When the girls come face to face on Camino’s home turf their bonds of sisterhood are developed and tested; in an intense standoff with a shady character, Yahaira may be the only person who can help Camino escape with her life.
VERDICT Crisp verse depicts heartbreak and bravery, while expert pacing culminates in a lyrical achievement in storytelling that is highly recommended.

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