86 pages 2 hours read

Elizabeth Acevedo

Clap When You Land

Fiction | Novel/Book in Verse | YA | Published in 2020

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Important Quotes

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“& mud got a mind of its own. Wants to enwrap / your penny loafers, hug up on your uniform skirt. / Press kisses to your knees & make you slip down to meet it. / ‘Don’t let it stain you,’ Tía’s always said. / But can’t she see? This place we’re from already has its prints on me.” 

(Chapter 1, Pages 1-2)

In the novel’s opening poem, Camino meditates on her life in Sosúa and her struggles with the town’s extreme poverty. She does so by personifying the image of mud, giving it an invasive and inescapable presence. The use of the word “kisses” further complicates the metaphor by insinuating an affectionate but ultimately damaging relationship.

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“There have been many days when Papi’s check comes late, / & we have to count / how many eggs we have left, / or how long the meat will stretch. / I don’t want Tía & me to always live this way. / I will make it. / I will make it. / I will make it easier for us both.” 

(Chapter 1, Page 7)

Camino describes the material hardships she faces in Puerto Plata. The quotation sets the stakes at hand: her reliance on Papi’s checks, and her ambition to provide a different life for Tía Solana and herself. Soon, circumstances will conspire against her, and her father’s death will push Camino into desperation. 

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“& she unravels. I do not slide down to join her. / Instead, I put my arms underneath hers, help her up to her feet & into her bedroom. / When the phone begins ringing / I answer & murmur to family. / I take charge where no one else can.” 

(Chapter 2, Pages 29-30)

On the day she learns of her father’s death, Yahaira is picked up at school by Mami, Papi’s first wife. We witness Yahaira’s analytical approach to chaos in comparison to her mother’s grief. Where Mami is inconsolable, Yahaira is stalwart, endeavoring through her pain to keep order in a world upended by sudden and shocking tragedy