Title: Next Year in Havana
Author: Chanel Cleeton
Publisher: Berkley Books
Publish Date: February 6, 2018 (Today!)
What's the Story?:
From Goodreads.com: "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-year-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
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 man with secrets of his own,
she'll need the lessons of her grandmother's past to help her understand
the true meaning of courage."
My Two Cents:
"Next Year in Havana" is a historical fiction book set in two times: late 1950s Cuba and 2017 Miami and Cuba. Marisol has grown up hearing stories about her grandmother's and great aunt's luxurious lives in Cuba before the revolution that brought Castro to power. After the revolution, they are exiled to the United States where they settle in the ex-pat community of Miami, forever dreaming of returning to their homeland once things are safe again. When Marisol's grandmother dies, she will be left to fulfill her final wishes.
Oh, this book! I was so excited when I heard about it as I would love to read more historical fiction set in Latin America and the Caribbean. There are so many interesting stories to tell there! I studied Latin America in undergrad and it remains of special interest to me. The historical detail in this book did not disappoint. The author has a really good way of making you understand the history through the characters witnessing it and it's never in a way where it isn't artfully blended into the story.
The book is told through Marisol and her grandmother, Elisa. Both of them are really great characters that I fell in love with. Elisa lives a very privileged life. Her father is a sugar baron and does not want for anything. The country is beginning to change. Elisa realizes that her family is on the opposite side of the revolutionaries that are spreading over the countryside even if they don't harbor particularly warm feelings for the things that Batista is doing; they are protected by his regime. Marisol is excited to see Cuba for herself. She has a very specific view pulled from listening to family stories so she isn't sure what to expect. I loved watching as Marisol unfolded the mystery of her grandmother's life throughout this book.
Another aspect of the book that I loved are the romances. The parallels between Elisa's and Marisol's story really thrilled me. Elisa falls in love with someone that society says she shouldn't. They will both be in danger for different reasons if they let love take hold. Marisol falls in love with someone that will put both her and him in danger. But in both cases, you can see that it is inevitable and the only thing that could possibly happen. Both stories are terribly romantic!
I was so sad when I reached the end of this book as I loved the ride so much. I was very excited that the book included an excerpt which promises to tell the story of Beatriz, Elisa's sister. Unfortunately, that book isn't slated to be released until 2019. I can't wait to get back to this family!