Title: Next Year in Havana
Author: Chanel Cleeton
Genre: historical fiction
Is this part of a series? No.
Publish Date: February 6th, 2018
Cuba, under Batista, was a wonderous place- if you had the money. Balls and dances, shopping, beautiful debutantes. No one understood luxury like the Perez family- daughters of a sugar magnate. There’s Beatriz- gorgeous and intelligent with just a tinge of her twin brother’s rebellious streak. Isabel, sweet, lovely and in love. Maria, the youngest and pampered, protected. Then there’s Eliza. At nineteen she is beyond beautiful, loyal and proud. When a night out strikes up a meeting between her and a revolutionary, her life shifts. Pablo is against all she is, and yet his idea for Cuba, his passion, draws her. First love, torn apart by war and circumstances.
When the Perez family flees after Batista’s escape no one truly believes it will be forever. That’s the toast. Next year in Havana…after everything goes back to normal… after it’s safe….. after Fidel dies.
Decades later, Marisol goes to Cuba for the first time- presumably to write a travel article, but also on a final quest for the grandmother she loved so much. There she meets Luiz, grandson of her grandmother’s best friend Anna. The new Cuba, separate from her grandmother’s stories, both intrigues and horrifies her. Here, too, she learns about a part of her grandmother she never knew- a man and past. As Eliza’s story unfolds for Marisol, Cuba too shows itself- what it was, what it is, and what it could be.
This book was so many things for me. It showed a strong, loving family going through hardships and how the sisters came together. A land on the brink of revolution- the ideals of the young that sometimes go astray. First love in all it’s confusing glory. Above all, loyalty- to country, to family, to oneself.
The gorgeous (and sometimes heart rending) descriptions of Eliza’s Cuba left me spellbound. I loved the characters, their strength and pain. The book had an easy flow from narrator to narrator, time to time. This is a book one loses themselves in. It gave me hope, despair, and then cautious optimism. As one that never studied Cuba’s history, it was interesting without being overwhelming. You were there- you felt the fear, the pride, the injustice. The homesickness. I finished this book days ago and I still feel it’s pull. I especially liked how Marisol and Luiz reacted to one another, and a look into the “new revolution” as it were. Luiz’s feelings of pride in a country that beats him down, his sense of belonging and his yearning to shape the new Cuba spoke to me. For me, this was a five star book.
On the Adult content scale, there was violence, language and some sexual content. For the violence alone I would give it a six.
I was lucky enough to receive an eARC of this book from First to Read in exchange for an honest review. My thanks!
The book is coming out 2-6-18. That’s tomorrow! Who’s ready?
Link to book: