Family Book Club: Clap When You Land
Reading level: young adult
Synopsis: Every summer, Camino's father comes to live with her and her aunt in the Dominican Republic, and it's the highlight of her year. This time though, when she arrives at the airport, she doesn't find the smiling face of her papi—she finds the tearful faces of hundreds. Back in New York City, Yahaira is disheartened by the goodbye she and her father had when he left that morning for the DR. When her principal calls her into the office, she realizes she'll never have the chance to make that goodbye right again, because her father has been killed in a plane crash. Both of their worlds are thrown into disarray: Yahaira suspects her mom is keeping secrets—especially when she announces that Yahaira can't go to the DR for her dad's funeral—and Camino has lost her lifeline to get out of the DR and attend college in the US.
Their worlds are further complicated when they learn about each other. A tentative social media exchange leads to a full-blown discovery—both girls thought they were only children. Now Yahaira knows she can't stay in the US while her father is buried, and together, the girls hatch a plan for Yahaira to fly down. When she does, they realize just how different—and how similar—their lives are and that the only way to move forward is to bridge the gaps of the past.
Categories: multicultural, grief, sisterhood
- Have you ever read a novel in verse before? How did reading it as poetry versus prose change your experience?
- Which of the sisters, Camino or Yahaira, did you relate to more? Why?
- After her father dies, Camino is afraid her dream of attending college and medical school in the US is lost. Have you ever felt a dream was out of your grasp? What are ways you could have—or can—try and make it accessible?
- When Yahaira arrives in the DR, she's struck both by how different it is and by home at home she feels. Do you have contact with your extended family? If so, what are differences and similarities you note (in geography, in how they communicate, in how their family operates, etc.). If not, where do you see differences and similarities in the families of your friends?
- If you could design a no-longer-a-secret sibling, what would you want them to be like?
Activity: Before Yahaira makes the decision to fly to the Dominican Republic, she and Camino communicate solely through social media. While that's the common way to talk to people now, that hasn't always been the case. Not too long ago, if you wanted to keep in touch with someone, a popular format was snail mail. Letter-writing is still considered an art form today, and it's pretty simple to find a pen pal. Whether you're looking to make a friend in a different country, brighten the day of someone in hospice or who needs longterm medical care, or widen your understanding of people's experiences by communicating with someone who's been incarcerated, there are programs out there (prison pen pal programs require you to be 18). An online search will help you find a program that fits your interests.