Clap When You Land, Elizabeth Acevedo

⏱️ 2 min

A new format, under the « Books Portraits » category, as we strive for more Caribbean books! Little reading notes which I hope will serve as an incentive. Feel free to share your thoughts once you read the book, or if you already have.

Once again: I was completely amazed by the title and I got curious. The cover is interesting though, but the title reminded me of something you may know if you’ve ever been on a plane landing off on a Caribbean island: we applaud the pilot. I’ve always thought that it was weird to clap your hands to someone who has basically done his or her job. Well, here this little gesture becomes deep and meaningful. By clapping your hands, you cheer up to life and to the fact that everyone arrived safe.

Since I finished the book, clapping my hands when I land won’t feel the same anymore.

Long story short: Clap When You Land centers around a tragedy and is voiced by two characters: Camino and Yahaira. The first one lives in New-York, the other in Dominican Republic. The protagonists end up to meet each other. A heavy secret is at the story’s core and as it is said in the epigraph: « El corazon de la auyama, solo lo conoce el cuchillo ». It literally means: « Only the knife knows what is withing the pumpkin’s heart ». The reader is free to interpret the quote… I think it’s related to one of the characters and you’ll understand when you read the whole story.

I was deeply moved by this reading, because I know too well the equivalent in Creole: « Sel kouto sav sa ki an kè a giromon » (Creole-speaking people, please be nice with me!). As Caribbean people, we share so much more than we can ever think! I also loved the double narration, which made the reading really enjoyable. If you read it on a Kindle device, the layout can be quite disturbing, but I got used to it very quickly. It’s written like a poem.

Well, the whole story is about a Pandora’s box, which opened – as usual in families – after a death. We can see it at first as a nightmare but it ends up being a gift for everyone. Caribbean people will definitely recognize themselves in it.

I loved the vast and rich descriptions, which make the reading even more enjoyable.

I started this book while tasting delicious scones with jam and cream + a ginger and lemongrass tea, in London.

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