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.
Expected publication: February 6th 2018 by Penguin/Berkley
Four and a half stars: A beautiful, poignant, emotional book that features two romances as well as a tour of Cuba. Don’t miss this one.
Marisol’s heart is hammering. She is finally here in Cuba, the country of her grandmother’s birth, the place she has been dreaming of since she was a small child. Unfortunately, Marisol’s beloved grandmother isn’t here to see Cuba with her after all these years. Hidden in the depths of Marisol’s bag are her grandmother’s ashes. Marisol has been tasked with finding the perfect place to spread her grandmother’s remains. As Marisol explores Cuba, she makes new friends, finds love, and discovers some heartbreaking secrets about her grandmother’s past. Will Cuba break Marisol’s heart as well?
What I Liked:
- Next Year in Havana is a lovely read that blends the past and the present beautifully. This is the story of two women who fell in love in Cuba during turbulent times. It is also a tale about Cuba, its people and its history I loved the way this story moves back and forth through time, as it weaves together two romances, while exploring Cuba’s troubling past and uncertain future. Don’t miss this one.
- What I loved the most about this book was exploring Cuba. Living in the United States, Cuba is an enigma. Most of us know very little about this clandestine country other than it has great cigars and rum, a despot leader, and the turbulent relations between the U.S. and Cuba. This book peels back the layers and exposes Cuba’s bloody past during Castro’s revolution in 1959, and then it returns to the present as the Cuban people look to the future with hope once again. It was fascinating and terrifying to explore Cuba’s history, and its present conditions. If you are like me and have little knowledge of Cuba, I urge you to read this book.
- I loved the writing. Ms. Cleeton takes the reader on tour through Cuba. She manages to grab the reader with rich and enticing descriptions of aromatic foods, colorful and majestic buildings, classic cars, breathtaking ocean views and mesmerizing sunsets. I felt like I was transported to Cuba both present day and the Cuba of 1959. I quickly found myself googling images of all the places described in the book. Outstanding attention to detail.
- The romances are both beautiful and heartbreaking. I was torn between the two. Elise, Marisol’s grandmother, is a nineteen year old, wealthy heiress living in Cuba’s grand Miramar community. Her life is balls, dresses and finery. Everything changes when the revolution begins to build. The movement snatches away her brother and soon her heart. Elise falls hopelessly in love with an older man. He is a lawyer, handsome, charming and educated. The problem is that he is a revolutionary, and a relationship with him is forbidden, yet she falls in love anyway. As the world falls apart around them, Elise and Pablo find comfort in each other’s arms. Such emotion! Fast forward to present day when Marisol visits Cuba. She stays with her grandmother’s best friend, Ana, and soon finds herself unexpectedly developing feelings for Ana’s grandson, Luis. Marisol learns that Luis is a revolutionary in his own way, fighting to bring hope to Cubans. At first, I was enamored by Elise’s romance, but soon I was just as invested in Marisol’s affair. I loved the way the author wove both romances together.
- One of the most poignant moments of the story occurs toward the end when Marisol meets a man who comes forward to help her and Luis. This was such an unexpected and moving part of the story. It brought tears to me eyes.
- I was shocked to learn about life in Cuba. The author does an amazing job of exposing what the regime has done to the people, the country and the way of life in Cuba. It is heartbreaking and horrifying to see what tight control the government has over the people. Yet, they continue to fight, to hope and to live, always wanting for things to get better. This was such an informative read, I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about Cuba.
- The book ends in a good spot, with hope for the future, yet a tantalizing thread is left dangling regarding Marisol’s alluring Aunt Beatriz. I am eagerly looking forward to Beatriz’s story.
And The Not So Much:
- The book opens with the Perez family in 1959 fleeing Cuba as Fidel Castro’s regime takes control. I kept hoping to learn more about Elise’s life after she left Cuba for the United States. Unfortunately, this part of her life is barely touched upon. I was curious to know how the Perez family reestablished themselves. I especially wanted to know more about Elise and how she ensure her own future.
- Marisol’s father is a mystery. I wanted to know more about him and his life.
- I felt like at certain points that the book got too wordy when it came to describing the conditions in Cuba. Some things were repeated, and it started dragging a bit.
- I was bothered by the way Luis’ mother and Christina treated Marisol. Why were they so hostile from the beginning?
Next Year in Havana is a moving story that weaves together two forbidden romances. One in present day, and one during the Cuban revolution in 1959. I loved exploring Cuba and learning more about its bloody past, and uncertain future. If you want to know more about Cuba, you must read this book. It is haunting, heartbreaking and beautiful. I won’t forget this one anytime soon.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own, and I was not compensated for this review.