Camino lives in the Dominican Republic with her aunt, where her father visits every summer. Yahaira lives in New York City with her parents, and every year, her father goes to the Dominican Republic for business. When their father’s flight crashes, Camino and Yahaira find out about each other. Not only do they have to grapple with the grief over their father’s death, but also the hurt and betrayal that come with finding out that their father was lying.
Spoiler Free Review:
Content Warnings: grief, sexual assault (described), stalking, plane crash, death of a parent, cheating
I didn’t think this book was going to be a walk in the park, but it hit me so much harder than I expected. This book was written in verse, which I loved and I think it added to the emotional element.
I also listened to the audiobook for this one. The author narrates her own books (so cool!), but since this one is dual POV, she only narrates one part. The audiobook was fantastic! The emotion in the narration was heart-wrenching and there were powerful moments when both characters would speak together.
The emotions in this book are so complex, especially for it not being particularly long. The plane that the father was on crashed into the ocean, so there was some delay in confirming deaths, so both girls were hoping that their father would somehow be alive. They both had to come to terms with the fact they didn’t know the entirety of their father, only a part of him. It was made even harder by the fact that they couldn’t really get answers. He couldn’t be there to explain why he was living two separate lives.
Camino’s feelings towards Yahaira were particularly contradictory. She dreams of being a doctor and going to college in New York City, but her circumstances in the Dominican Republic make that almost impossible. Finding out that she has a sister who is living where she wants to be, a sister whose father lived with her almost year-round, makes her resent Yahaira, but knowing that Yahaira is also a part of her father makes her want to meet her.
I also learned a lot about the Dominican Republic through Camino’s descriptions and the problems she faced. Throughout the book, a man is stalking her, trying to get her to work for him as a prostitute for the resorts down the beach. Tourism has a big effect on Camino’s area, from creating operations like that man’s to creating huge resorts for tourists when many of the locals are living in one room houses. Camino’s aunt works in healthcare, and it is shown that people can be denied care based on where they are from.
This book was also dedicated to/based on the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 in 2001. Many of the people on the flight were Dominican, and after it was discovered that it wasn’t a terrorist attack, it lost a lot of media coverage. I am grateful for books that allow me to learn and do my own research about events that don’t get talked about as much as they should.
There was a lot of Spanish in this book, but especially with the audiobook, the meanings and emotions portrayed were clear from the context.
I highly recommend this book, especially the audiobook! I can’t wait to read more from Elizabeth Acevedo.