Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

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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.

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This was the most breathtaking book I’ve ever read. I saw a few bloggers bragging about this one and did a buddy read with Destiny from Howling Libraries. I was blown away by the beautiful writing and descriptiveness in the book. The author had such a way with words that left you wanting more from each chapter.

Marisol is a young woman in 2017 living in Miami. She finds through her grandmothers will that she is in charge of spreading her grandmother’s ashes in Cuba. Marisol gets to see where her Grandmother grew up, her best friend and nanny that took care of her. Marisol also sees the impact that Fidel has left on Cuba and why her Grandmothers family fled all those years ago.

Elisa grew up in the 50’s as a teenager in Cuba. Elisa’s family is extremely wealthy and lives a very privileged life in Cuba. Elisa’s father works under the current President Barista, but people are revolting and Fidel’s revolution has started and growing fast. with so much falling apart around her, Elisa and her family are forced to flee the country for safety and refuge in Miami. Elisa hopes to one day return to Cuba.

I want to start by saying the description does not do this book justice. I went into this book knowing nothing. I usually don’t get into historical fiction, but the writing in this was beautiful. The way the author described Havana and Cuba was so beautiful. You couldn’t help but be pulled in by her way with words.

You switch back and forth between Elisa in the 50’s and Marisol in 2017. Both sides are filled with so much love and heartbreak. The author put them together so well, I couldn’t stop wanting more of each chapter.

My absolute favorite aspect of this book was how much love there was, all the different types of love you could give throughout your life. Love for a lover. Love for your family. Love for friends. Love for your country. It showed all the different ways we love each other. I didn’t expect so much loyalty to a country that wasn’t in turn loyal to them.

The second aspect I enjoyed was how Marisol came to realize that her life in Miami was so privileged and that she took that for granted. When she found out that Cubans did not have access to social media she thought oh there life is so much better to not have to obsess over a photo and how many likes it gets. But the more she thought the more she realized it was freedom taken from them. That the people back on in the U.S. had the freedom to choose whether or not they wanted to make social media accounts. Whereas with the Cubans did not get a choice, the choice was made for them.

Overall I love this book and gave it five stars. I loved every minute of getting to read this book. You will feel all the emotions throughout the book. I bawled at quite a few scenes. I hope you all get the chance to read this beauty. I can not wait to see where Cleeton takes the next book When We Left Cuba.

Favorite Quotes – 

“To be in exile is to have the things you love most in the world – the air you breath, the earth you walk upon – taken from you. They exist on the other side of a wall – there and not – unaltered by time and circumstance, preserved in a perfect memory in a land of dreams.” 

“… but the older you get, the more you learn to appreciate the moments’ life gives you. Getting them certainly isn’t a given, and I feel blessed to have carved out a life here where I could be happy even if it wasn’t quite the happiness I envisioned if the things I dreamed of never quite came to pass.” 

“Life is too short to be unhappy to play it safe. To do what is expected of you rather than follow your heart” 

“You speak as though politics is its own separate entity,” he says. “As though it isn’t in the air around us, as though every single part of us isn’t political. How can you dismiss something that is so fundamental to the integrity of who we are as a people, as a country? How can you dismiss something that directly affects the lives of so many?” 

“That’s the thing about death—even when you think someone is gone, glimpses of them remain in those they loved and left behind.” 

“At the end of the day, the only thing you have left is what you stand for. If I said nothing, if I did nothing, I could not live with myself. I would not be a man. This is the position I choose to take, and for better or worse, I will accept the consequences of my actions.” 

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9 thoughts on “Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

  1. Amazing review, love! And… perfect quotes! Lord, this book was so beautiful! We should try to buddy read the next together! And I hope your next read is just as amazing, sweetheart! Happy reading! 💖xx

    Liked by 1 person

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