Camino lives for her father’s visits to the Dominican Republic. But this year, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of people crying.
In New York City, Yahaira 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.
Sepreated by distance – and Papi’s secrets – the two sisters are forced to face a new reality in which their lives are forever altered. Now Camino and Yahaira are both left to grapple with their grief, their new – found love for one another and what it will take to keep their dreams alive.
This is my second book written in verse, the first being Punching the Air (reviewed here), the effect of this writing is a fast paced, lively read that certainly keeps me engaged. Both of these books have been extremely quick reads, but the writing format makes for an energetic read and the first person narrative combined with the prose makes the voices very strong.
The story is told by Camino in Dominican Republic and Yahaira in New York, until his death in a plane crash the two teens are unaware of the others existence, with their father making an annual trip to DR to visit his secret daugher. This story is desperately sad as both daughters grapple with thier grief while also trying to understand their father’s deception. For Yahaira her feelings are further complicated by her mother’s emotions about the fact that her husband had had another marriage and daughter.
By telling the story from the perspective of both girls the reader gets a stark account of their different lives in the two countries, the poverty in DR was obvious, despite Camino living a fairly affluent life due to her father’s relative wealth. The vulnerability of both girls and the predatory behaviour of men formed part of the story and this was particularly uncomfortable reading in relation to Camino, drawing again on the role of povery in relation to outcomes for girls and the protective aspect of wealth.
The author comments in the afterword that she has drawn upon her memories of a plane crash in New York en route to DR shortly after 9/11, 260 passengers died, 90% of whom were of Dominican descent. The author recalled the impact this had on the Dominican community in New York but also some of the stories of the passenger on board.
This book was brilliant, this genre of writing is fast becoming a favourite of mine, powerful and accessible the appeal for the YA market is clear. The clarity of the narrative is tangible and the reading experience is absorbing. I finished the book with a slight feeling of bereftness as my involvement in the lives of these two teens concluded. Their voices were loud and clear and thier experiences; their lives and losses were vivid.
Highly recommended from me and seeking your recommnendations of other excellent books written in verse. Thank you in advance!
About the Author
Elizabeth Acevedo is the New York Times bestselling and 2019 Carnegie Medal winning author of THE POET X. She is also the winner of the 2018 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, The Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Fiction and the Pura Belpre Award for a work that best affirms the Latinx cultural experience.
She holds a BA in Performing Arts from The George Washington University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland. Acevedo has been a fello of Cave Canem, Cantomundo, and a participant in the Callaloo Writer’s Workshops. She is a National Poetry Slam Champion and resides in Washinton, DC with her partner.