Hi folks! Welcome back to this week’s episode of Sorry I Only Read RomComs, my name is Aanu and I hope you’ve been well? I hope you’ve been taking time out for yourself to check in, I hope you’ve been finding a bit or a lot of joy and love in this incredible time we are in. I have found some calm in taking long walks, and using that time to either undo my day or just travel and dream for a bit. Sometimes I listen to a new playlist while I walk, other times I listen to some of my favorite podcasts like On Being, Design Matters, sometimes I just google some of my favorite people, like Brene Brown, Elizabeth Gilbert, Seth Godin, randomly listen to their interviews and feast.
Anyway, since I was able to get into podcasts, I figured, I can also listen to audio books! So I started a few like “All Boys Aren’t Blue” by George M Johnson, “How We Fight For Our Lives” by Saeed Jones, I haven’t finished both yet but I love them so far and I’ll definitely talk about them, as soon as I do. What I was able to finish though was an audiobook by my favorite YA author ever, Elizabeth Acevedo, and it’s her latest book Clap When You Land (yes I had to clap while saying that), anyway, that’s what we’ll talking about today, let’s dive in!
Clap When You Land, follows the story of Yahaira and Camino, two half sisters who are unaware of each other until their father dies in a fatal air crash on his way to the Dominican Republic. After his death, each sister deals with the significance of this loss and how it impacts each of them differently based on their cultural influences. Camino lives in Dominican Republic with her aunt. Prior to her father’s death he visited her every year and it was on his way to her that the crash happened. He is married Yahira’s mom and they all lived in New York. so there was always this agreement that at a specific time, he will visit his home country where he happened to have a wife (who died) and a child. This is so messy, I can’t even.
So first of all, listening to this book gave me a very different (by different I mean elevated) experience of Elizabeth Acevedo, compared to her first two books. Because she majorly writes in verse, it was like listening to a spoken word album, except the album was telling a full ass story. I am almost tempted to listen to her first two books and see if my experience of them will mirror this, because I read those ones. This is definitely my best book by her, I love that her latest work is my favorite work. As usual she tackled race and culture, you can’t read an Elizabeth Acevedo book without immersed in Latinx culture, the food, community, I loved that. By placing New York and Dominican Republic side by side, we got to see the peculiarities of growing up in each place.
Now, these are some of my favorite things about the book:
- This book pulled at the seams of what the definition of family is: here we saw Camino being the ward of her aunt, her mom’s sister. They were both supported financially by her father before he died but she was her primary caregiver and their bond was written in such a powerful way, you wouldn’t doubt their kinship. It also showed the grief the aunt experienced when Camino’s father died and in the book, Camino noted how she never really realised that for the most part her Tia lost someone too, someone who she considered a brother. Also between the sisters, questions came up, conflicting emotions, search for meaning… As you can imagine it was very complicated bending the idea of family but it was explored so well here and I enjoyed that.
- It explored love in different dynamics: romantic love between Yahira and her girlfriend (yay queer love), to Camino and her best friend, to Camino and her dad, Camino and her aunt, Yahira and her neighbours, Yahira and her mom. Even love for things like Yahira’s love for nail polish and what being a part of the chess player signified in talking about the bond between Yahira and her dad. And while they were both dead, we also got a glimpse at the love between Camino’s dad and her mom. I mean, it begs the question, is it love or selfishness or need that will drive a man to marry two women in two countries? Also the complicated love that comes with loving that doesn’t quite return it, as we saw with the father and Yahira’s mom. It was definitely a case of being a good dad, so to speak and a bad partner.
- The father: The father played a connecting role in all the women’s lives and for someone that left such a huge mess behind, I was surprised at the level of grace I extended to him. I was definitely more curious about who he was, why did he marry two women in two countries? He was a good dad, brother but a terrible partner and this isn’t an uncommon dynamic but it was still interesting how this played out. I would have loved to see more about him, maybe get a mini POV? I loved how his love was still left over while he was away from the dominican republic and also after his death.
- The strong sense of sisterhood and girl power through the story: My favorite part of the book was the climax where they all bound together to fight some scumbag, it was such a vivid and charged scene, you know one of those that will have you screaming “yes, beat him, yada yada” yes that’s the one. It was definitely a princess saving herself moment and I loved it.
All in all, I’ll give it 5 out of 5 stars and I’ll definitely read it again. I got my physical copy from roving heights and listened to it on Scribd.
UP NEXT we’ve got ENTANGLED by Mellissa Breyden. If you see how I was miseing this book ehhh, hey God! I was pinching this book one page at a time and I still finished it in 2 days. Mellissa Breyden is one of the authors whose catalogue I have completely read. I got introduced to female/female romance through her work at the time I was deliberately looking for stories that showed two women in love without fetishizing them. As you can imagine, it was awesome finally finding books away written by women away from the male gaze. I started with “Waiting in the Wings” which was EPIC and here we are, with her latest work, ENTANGLED.
Entangled is a love story about Joey and Becca, Joey is the newly inherited owner of Tangled, which is basically a wine business based in a small town; while Becca is the General Manager of the new resort, Jade, popping up in this small town. Now at first, Joey isn’t a fan of this new resort, because she feared that it would take away from the rustic, getaway charm of the town, while Becca was just ladida, happy to be there and happy to make friends. So to an extent there was an element of the hate to love troupe which is always feisty and interesting. Now what did I like about these book?
It explored trauma and loss in a very light but significant way with Joey. Joey had experienced quite a number of losses in her life starting with her mom, she was also left at the altar and then she lost her quite suddenly. The trauma that comes with this history of loss was written quite well, I would have dragged Mellisa if she pulled a “power of love cured me from my ptsd” stunct because it doesn’t work that way. There were elements of love bombing at the beginning, keeping her cards close to her chest, holding on to things she could control while feeling out of control at the same time and in the ultimate separation, she had to dig into her wounds and heal and I loved how that process played out.
Two, the vulnerability and chemistry was written so beautifully. These two characters had lines for days with each other, it was like word vomit. Once they decided to go for it, dear Lord, you could believe the chemistry, everything had me going “God when?”, and the timing of everything they did, the magnetism was really palpable, I believed their attraction to each other, it was done well. And the sex….. Whoooosh, whoooosh, damn is all I can say about that. But most of all, I loved how vulnerability led the conversation with these two. Usually when you think about the initial dating stage, you think of coyness, more push than pull, where avoidance will lead the way but here Becca’s way of wooing Joey was by showing her card and just being open and there was something very refreshing about that, I respect that. Joey had her issues, Becca had experienced some breakups before but their relationship was still healthy and I liked that. Mellissa redeemed herself here after the mess of Beautiful Dreamer.
Now, what did I not like about the book? One, the blind date. So Becca was set up on a date by her new friends and it was one of those, let me go to make them happy. But the date was a mess and the woman was basically a Jester character and I thought that was lazy and unnecessary. I would have preferred if Mellissa gave us someone sensible that will be a contender for a hot second so that we’ll see Becca choose Joey, not like it will be a no brainer, do you get what I mean? I didn’t need any help liking Joey or preferring Joey and by creating this Jester character, it was like yeah, you have to go for this girl because this date is ridiculous.
Two, the unnecessary banter. Now Mellissa Breyden is the type of person to put carrot, green peas, orishirishi in her jollof rice. Is it terrible? No. Did we send her? Definitely not! Her books are heavy on the wit, fast exchange and some of them are actually hilarious but sometimes I just want a decent conversation without the embroidery, because I just find myself rolling my eyes at a line that was supposed to be cute or whatever. The placement of some of these lines is also weird. Another thing that annoys me is how all the characters have banter like all of them that isn’t culture specific. These people come from diverse backgrounds, are supposed to have different personalities but they speak with this same bubbly, goofy wit thing. So that was a turn off for me.
Baring these two, I enjoyed the book and I’ll give it maybe a 4? It’s the first of a series and I can’t wait to see how she develops the love stories of the other characters. As usual, I’d like to hear your thoughts, drop a voice note, on the anchor app, slide in my dm @ sorryIonlyreadromcoms on Instagram, you can also follow my personal page @ helloaanu, i.e hello a a n u. I’ll talk to you next week, bye!
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