Next Year in Havana

Title: Next Year in Havana
Author: Chanel Cleeton
Rate: 4/5
Bookstore: Amazon
Publisher: Berkley

After the death of her beloved grandmother, a Cuban-American woman travels to Havana, where she discovers the roots of her identity — and unearths a family secret hidden since the revolution…
Havana, 1958. The daughter of a sugar baron, nineteen-years-old Elisa Perez is part of Cuba’s high society, where she is largely sheltered from the country’s growing political unrest — until she embarks on a clandestine affair with a passionate revolutionary…
Miami, 2017. Freelance writer Marisol Ferrera grew up hearing romantic stories of Cuba from her late grandmother Elisa, who was forced to flee with her family during the revolution. Elisa’s last wish was for Marisol to scatter her ashes in the country of her birth. 

Arriving in Havana, Marisol comes face-to-face with the contrast of Cuba’s tropical, timeless beauty and its perilous political climate. When more family history comes to light and Marisol finds herself attracted to a ma with secrets of his own, she’ll need to lessons of her grandmother’s past to help her understand the true meaning of courage — and what it means to be Cuban. 

Cleeton does an amazing job telling the story between two characters from different times, Elisa and Marisol. I love being able to read about Havana during 1958 and then 2017. It was great to get two different narratives from completely different times and connecting it into one beautiful and heartbreaking story.

There was never a dull moment for me as I was reading the book. I have been wanting to read it for a while and brought a copy over the holidays — once I opened the book, I was happy I did and kicked myself for waiting so long to read it. Apart from the beautiful story of love, family, loyalty, and fear. I was able to learn about the Cuban revolution of when Batista was President to when Fidel took over. I knew a little about the revolution and the history, but this book shined a light on many things that I was not knowledgeable about. Reading the part of when Elisa buries a book behind her home, as many did before leaving and having that hope that they will be able to return back home soon was heartbreaking. Many Cubans have not been able to return back to their country after they took the risk of leaving. Cleeton does a great job in adding the emotions that many endured when they departed from Cuba to another country due to the unrest. In the book, you are able to connect that much hasn’t changed between 1958 to 2017 in terms of politics.

It was beautiful to see the family love between Luis and Ana, his grandmother. Even to see it with Elisa’s family, especially with her sisters. Family is very important in the Latino culture and being there for one another is very common. I was able to relate in that aspect when I was reading. Just like Marisol, my grandmother was the one that raised me and I have a very strong connection with her. She was the one that is our family head and the piece of the puzzle that is holding us all together to this day. One thing that really touched me was how Marisol was trying to connect to Cuba, even though she was raised as a Cuban, but being in the country made her doubt if she really was a Cuban.

I truly enjoyed this book and recommend it immensely! There was a moment in the book where I felt that the story shifted and I didn’t enjoy it, it sort of felt awkward. Either way, you will get a heartbreaking love story, family separation, political outbreak and a love for a country like no other. Go grab it NOW!

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