Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton was recommended to me by a fellow book blogger a few months ago. I thought it interesting since I live in a town that survives out of the sugar industry. After the Cuban Revolution, a lot of cubans emigrated to Miami. Especially the ones who had a priviledge life style, that was mainly obtained through sugar.
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“A beautiful novel that’s full of forbidden passions, family secrets and a lot of courage and sacrifice.”—Reese Witherspoon
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 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 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.
Book Review: Next Year in Havana
I grew up hearing the stories of those Cubans that emigrated to the States. I couldn’t believe them, when they explained their travesties. How a lot of women sew their jewelry to their dresses and sold them when they got out of Cuba in order to eat. I even heard once, that some fled with what they were wearing and nothing else to not awake suspicion.
Next Year in Havana brought all those stories back to life . I could picture a lot of my grandmother’s cuban friends, fleeing their home cause they didn’t feel safe anymore. Therefore, I could relate a lot better to Elisa’s struggles. Leaving a country, despite the situation is no joke. You basically sacrifice all you know, to start over again.
More over, I loved the forbidden romance between Elisa and Pablo. It’s been a while since I read about a passionate man giving everything up for his beliefs. As the reader, you felt the love between this two opposite characters running through your veins. Elisa, was loyal and brave. Putting myself in her shoes, a time where women barely had a voice within her social circumstances, made me admire her even more.
On the other hand, Marisol is everything Elisa could’ve been if she were born a few decades later. However, she does question her identity often. She’s Cuban-American, but she feels 100% Cuban since her family kept up with their national customs. But once she visits modern Cuba, she realizes that this is not the Cuba her ancestors grew up in. Appreciating even more being brought up in the States unlike Luis.
Luis had to face growing up in a country where freedom is an unattainable luxury. Despite the numerous restrictions and limitations, he still fights in his own way. This totally proves that you can only brain wash so many people until they wake up. Through this novel, we get to experience first hand the lack of basic needs in Cuba. How lines are what make up most of your day if you want to get a loaf of bread.
I can’t wait to visit Cuba and get lost in Havana. Although it might be considered ran down, I would love to get lost in Miramar and picture Elisa and Marisol walking down the streets and enjoying the magic Malecón!
I’m hopeful this book will turn into a film someday. There’s enough romance and mystery to even make a series! This is definitely one of the best books I’ve read all year. So 100% recommended! Can’t wait to read Chanel Cleeton’s other books!