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.
I’m forever a fan of Elizabeth Acevedo. So, when I saw her newest release, Clap When You Land, available as an audiobook I threw my TBR right out the window and listened to it all day. I love Acevedo’s audiobooks because she narrates them. Clap When You Land is her second novel written in verse. Though unlike The Poet X, this story follows two perspectives, two sisters that don’t know the other exists. But when their father dies in a plane crash, both their lives change.
I was blown away by this story. We follow Camino who lived in the Dominican Republic. Her father spends the summers with her, working in New York City for the rest of the year. He sends money back so that she can go to the best private school available. Her life is small but full of love. Her mother died when she was young which she struggles with but she has others that care for and about her. The aunt she lives with loves her and teaches her all of the spiritual things she knows. I loved this aspect of the story because it’s a part of Camino’s culture that I didn’t know anything about. I also loved Camino’s best friend, who was extremely pregnant and constantly worrying about the kind of future she was going to be able to provide for her child. When Camino finds out that her father had another daughter and wife in New York City, her world is turned upside down. She questions everything she ever knew about her father. She harshly judges her sister from the little she knows about her.
Yahaira is taken out of class and informed that her father’s plane had crashed. She spends the first few days caring for her mother who is practically catatonic. I liked that Yahaira has this relationship with her mom, but it’s clear that she idolized her father for most of her life, right up until she found the marriage certificate that stated her father was married to another woman in the Dominican Republic. Once we learn that Yahaira knows about Camino’s mother I assumed that she knew about Camino too. I loved Yahaira’s girlfriend. Yahaira is a lesbian dating a girl that loves to garden on her balcony. They fell into the childhood friends to lover’s trope and I loved every minute of their familiarity.
When the girls find out about one another, contact is inevitable. The hardest part about this for me was Yahaira’s mother insisting that Yahaira was not going to the Dominican Republic and she would certainly not have anything to do with her father’s other daughter. But of course, teenagers do whatever they want. So, Yahaira messages her sister and even video chats with her before sneaking off to the Dominican Republic so that she can be there when what’s left of her father’s body was returned to where he grew up. The girls first meeting and the few days after were awkward for both of them. Neither sure how to be a sister. I absolutely adored their meeting and Camino showing Yahaira around her home. I loved everything about the ending of this book.
Overall, this story was an incredible tale about two girls that lost a father but managed to gain a sister. Two girls with wildly different upbringings came together to deal with the hardest thing most children ever have to go through. This was a heartbreaking story full of extraordinary relationships, diverse and well-developed characters. The writing was beautiful, as was the narration by the two women that brought this audiobook to life. I cannot recommend this book enough.
Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.
With her daughter to care for and her Abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain — and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen. But even with all the rules she has for her life — and all the rules everyone expects her to play by — once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free.
I love Elizabeth Acevedo. I adore The Poet X and I was so excited to see what she was going to do next. With the Fire on High was different from her first novel in the sense that it’s written like a traditional novel. Though, there were these cute recipes that I will definitely be attempting when I get the chance.
In With the Fire on High, we follow the main character Emoni as she navigates the world that is being a teen mother who is about to graduate high school. She’s trying to figure out what the best path for her and her family is all. I really like Emoni. She was a hard worker that didn’t really complain about things she couldn’t change. She did her best to cover it all, being a mother to her daughter, co-parenting, graduating, and working. I really liked her strong values and work ethic. She values family and I absolutely adored her relationship with her grandmother. I thought the challenge of co-parenting was an interesting one, but Emoni doesn’t let anyone push her around. She’s not afraid to speak her mind and I really respected that trait in her.
This story was a more character-driven story with less focus on the plot. We get to know Emoni and what her struggles are. I thought this was a really quick read. I think it talks about a lot of really important topics and it does so really well. I also enjoyed the cooking aspect of the story. All the smells and tastes were sounded so delicious and it added a little something special. I definitely will be recommending this one.
Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.
Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.
But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours her frustration onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself life prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class. With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself.
When she is invited to join her schools slam poetry club, she knows that she could never get around Mami’s rules to attend, much less speak her words out loud. But still, she can’t stop thinking about preforming her poems.
Because in spite of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.
The Poet X has been recommended to me again and again since it was published, especially the audiobook. I’ve put it on several TBR lists, but it hasn’t stuck until this round of the contemporaryathon. I found it available as an audiobook from my library and I had a fair bit of driving to do today so I thought this short audiobook would be perfect. I had a feeling I was going to enjoy this story but I was given so much more.
I delighted in this story. Xiomara was fierce and fabulous, full of love and passion. I adored absolutely everything about her. She’s strong and unafraid. I loved her voice in this story, questioning everything despite the consequences she knew were inevitable. She wanted everything out of life, even though she knew her Mami wouldn’t approve. She loved her twin brother with her whole heart and soul and I loved his part in the story. I have three brothers, so I relate to the love she had for her sibling. It made me sad that he didn’t stick up for her more even though she made it clear that she was the strong one, she was the fighter, she was the one to tell the world to back off.
This story tells of a girl being pressured to live the life her mother couldn’t. I think there should be more stories that tell of the goals and aspirations that parents put on their children. I think it’s so important to talk about, so important for kids to know that their goals and dreams don’t have to be their parent’s goals and dreams. All too often people have children and push those children to live the lives they themselves didn’t manage to live. I think it’s especially prevalent in the culture that these characters are a part of. Additionally, the religion that is focused on in this book I think it a part of the culture of the characters as well. The Poet X tells us how her Dominican mother pushes her love for God onto her daughter even though Xiomara has questions and wants to explore her own path.
I really appreciated that Xiomara found an outlet in writing. This was most definitely my favorite part of the story. I can completely relate to this because writing is my outlet too. When it feels like everything is going wrong, I can find my footing in putting words on a page. I’ve recently found my own passion for poetry so I loved hearing the things that Xiomara wrote.
This brings me to the final thing I want to mention. The writing in The Poet X was absolutely incredible. It’s so obvious (aside from the book being written in verse) that Acevedo is a poet. Her words were lyrical and clearly carefully chosen. They fell together beautifully. I will without a doubt be finding and reading more work written by Elizabeth Acevedo. Overall, if you couldn’t tell, I really loved this book. I totally understand why so many have loved it because I am now on that list of people. I recommend this book to all lovers of contemporary. I also highly recommend the audiobook, it was a quick but impactful listen.
Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.