▪️ Rating: 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 4/5
▪️Trigger warnings ⚠️: Sexual harassment, sexual assault, grief
Spoiler free summary ( goodreads):
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. Papi's death uncovers all the painful truths he kept hidden, and the love he divided across an ocean. And now, Camino and Yahaira are both left to grapple with what this new sister means to them, and what it will now take to keep their dreams alive. In a dual narrative novel in verse that brims with both grief and love, award-winning and bestselling author Elizabeth Acevedo writes about the devastation of loss, the difficulty of forgiveness, and the bittersweet bonds that shape our lives.
There is so much to love about this book. So much so that I do not know how to organize my thoughts properly so I'll just share a few things that I loved about this book:
Acevedo is a master of her kraft. She has such a way with words! I found the poetry in this book very different from The poet X but it was still lyrical, beautiful and accessible.
This book is about complex families, grief and dreams. In the middle of all that, the author still manages to talk about privilege, immigration, cultural identity, colorism and a few other important topics without ever feeling too heavy. I love a book that can provide a history lesson and discuss important topics without making them the whole story.
For example, the romance between Yahaira and Dre is so beautifully undramatic - something that I feel like we don't get a lot of. The two girls loved each other and that was it. There was no pettiness or other unnecessary drama around their story. I love that there was just a casual queer relationship that did not need to be addressed too much. The author allowed it to be exactly what is: A relationship.
The bond that Camino shares with her aunt just made me happy. I come from a big family so whenever I see things like this, I get this big ole smile on my face.
My favorite thing about this book is the fact that it deals with the humanity of the dead. We have this habit of pretending that the departed never did any wrong but that's just not true. This book is about learning to forgive the dead and making peace with the fact that they are not around to defend their choices. This is especially important when it comes to dead parents. After all, like the author said:
Most families are messy. Most parents will fail to live up to the hero worship of their children.
Grief is a fairly popular topic in books because sadly, it is a very common and unavoidable part of life. This book talks about it in a way that really impressed me. I'm not sure if it is the writing that did it or the very distinct but very familiar points of view of the main characters.... I could not tell you. All I can say is that the author really does a good job of navigating many of the different emotions that one goes through when dealing with the loss of a loved one.
All in all, this book is definitely worth reading. I will recommend it to everyone!