Clap When You Land
Goodreads ratings
4.38 / 5

"Clap When You Land" Summary

By Elizabeth Acevedo

young adult | 417 pages | Published in 2020

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people...In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal's office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.Separated by distance - and Papi's secrets - the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered. And then, when it seems like they've lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.Papi's death uncovers all the painful truths he kept hidden, and the love he divided across an ocean. And now, Camino and Yahaira are both left to grapple with what this new sister means to them, and what it will now take to keep their dreams alive.In a dual narrative novel in verse that brims with both grief and love, award-winning and bestselling author Elizabeth Acevedo writes about the devastation of loss, the difficulty of forgiveness, and the bittersweet bonds that shape our lives.


Estimated read time: 4 min read

One Sentence Summary

Two sisters, unaware of each other's existence, come to terms with their father's death and their shared heritage after a tragic plane crash.


"Clap When You Land" by Elizabeth Acevedo is a poignant and emotionally charged novel that follows the lives of two teenage girls, Camino and Yahaira, who are brought together by a tragic event. Set in the Dominican Republic and New York City, the novel explores the themes of grief, family, identity, and the power of resilience. Through lyrical prose and compelling storytelling, Acevedo weaves a narrative that delves into the complexities of love, loss, and forgiveness.

Brief Synopsis

Plot Overview and Setting

The story unfolds in two distinct settings: the Dominican Republic and New York City. Camino lives in the Dominican Republic, where she dreams of studying medicine and reuniting with her father, who works in the United States. Yahaira resides in New York City and is a talented chess player with a strained relationship with her father. When a plane traveling from New York to the Dominican Republic crashes, both girls are devastated to learn that their father was on board. As they navigate their grief and grapple with the secrets that come to light in the aftermath of the tragedy, Camino and Yahaira's lives become intertwined in unexpected ways.

Main Events

1-5The plane crash and the revelation of the girls' father's secret double life
6-10Camino and Yahaira's initial reactions to the news and their individual struggles
11-15Camino and Yahaira's journey to uncover the truth about their father's hidden life
16-20The girls' paths intersect, leading to a deeper understanding of their shared experiences
21-25Camino and Yahaira's emotional journeys towards healing and forgiveness

Main Characters

Camino Rios

Camino is a resilient and determined young woman living in the Dominican Republic. She aspires to become a doctor and is devoted to caring for her ailing grandmother. Camino's world is shattered by the loss of her father and the revelations that follow, prompting her to confront her deepest fears and desires.

Yahaira Rios

Yahaira is a gifted chess player living in New York City. She grapples with the complexities of her relationship with her father and the impact of his sudden death. As she navigates her grief, Yahaira embarks on a journey of self-discovery and acceptance.

Themes and Insights

"Clap When You Land" delves into several profound themes and offers insightful reflections on the following:

  • Grief and Loss: The novel provides a raw and honest portrayal of the multifaceted nature of grief and the ways in which individuals navigate the loss of loved ones.
  • Family Dynamics: Through the parallel experiences of Camino and Yahaira, the novel explores the complexities of family relationships, including secrets, forgiveness, and the enduring bonds that connect people across distance and adversity.
  • Identity and Belonging: The characters grapple with questions of identity, belonging, and the impact of cultural heritage on their sense of self. The novel highlights the importance of embracing one's roots while forging new paths.
  • Resilience and Empowerment: "Clap When You Land" celebrates the resilience and strength of its protagonists as they confront challenges, find their voices, and pursue their dreams in the face of adversity.

Reader's Takeaway

Readers of "Clap When You Land" are treated to a moving and immersive narrative that captures the complexities of love, loss, and the power of human connection. The novel's lyrical prose and compelling characters invite readers to embark on an emotional journey that resonates long after the final page. Through the intertwined stories of Camino and Yahaira, readers gain profound insights into the resilience of the human spirit and the transformative nature of forgiveness.


"Clap When You Land" is a masterful work that showcases Elizabeth Acevedo's exceptional talent for storytelling and her ability to infuse her narratives with profound emotional depth. The novel's exploration of grief, family, identity, and resilience offers a rich and rewarding reading experience that will linger in the hearts and minds of readers. With its compelling characters and evocative portrayal of two distinct worlds, "Clap When You Land" stands as a testament to the enduring power of love and the human capacity for healing and growth.

Clap When You Land FAQ

  1. What is the genre of 'Clap When You Land'?

    The genre of 'Clap When You Land' is young adult fiction, with elements of poetry and novel-in-verse.

  2. Who is the author of 'Clap When You Land'?

    The author of 'Clap When You Land' is Elizabeth Acevedo, an award-winning author known for her powerful storytelling and poetry.

  3. What is the story of 'Clap When You Land' about?

    The story of 'Clap When You Land' revolves around two sisters who discover each other's existence after their father dies in a plane crash. It explores their journey of grief, love, and family secrets.

  4. Is 'Clap When You Land' based on a true story?

    While 'Clap When You Land' is a work of fiction, it is inspired by the real-life tragedy of American Airlines Flight 587, which crashed in 2001. The author weaves a fictional narrative around this event.

  5. What are the themes explored in 'Clap When You Land'?

    Themes in 'Clap When You Land' include family secrets, grief, identity, sisterhood, and the power of forgiveness. The novel also touches on cultural heritage and the complexities of relationships.