Next Year in Havana

Next Year in Havana

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Overview

A REESE WITHERSPOON BOOK CLUB PICK

"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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780399586699
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/06/2018
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 503

About the Author

Chanel Cleeton is the USA Today bestselling author of Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick Next Year in Havana. She received a bachelor's degree in International Relations from Richmond, The American International University in London and a master's degree in Global Politics from the London School of Economics & Political Science. Chanel also received her Juris Docto from the University of South Carolina School of Law. She loves to travel and has lived in the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Elisa

Havana, 1959

 How long will we be gone?" my sister Maria asks.

"Awhile," I answer.

"Two months? Six months? A year? Two?"

"Quiet." I nudge her forward, my gaze darting around the departure area of Rancho-Boyeros Airport to see if anyone has overheard her question.

We stand in a row, the famous-or infamous, depending on who you ask-Perez sisters. Isabel leads the way, the eldest of the group. She doesn't speak, her gaze trained on her fiancŽ, Alberto. His face is pale as he watches us, as we march out of the city we once brought to its knees.

Beatriz is next. When she walks, the hem of her finest dress swinging against her calves, the pale blue fabric adorned with lace, it's as though the entire airport holds its collective breath. She's the beauty in the family and she knows it.

I trail behind her, the knees beneath my skirts quivering, each step a weighty effort.

And then there's Maria, the last of the sugar queens.

At thirteen, Maria's too young to understand the need to keep her voice low, is able to disregard the soldiers standing in green uniforms, guns slung over their shoulders and perched in their eager hands. She knows the danger those uniforms bring, but not as well as the rest of us do. We haven't been able to remove the grief that has swept our family in its unrelenting curl, but we've done our best to shield her from the barbarity we've endured. She hasn't heard the cries of the prisoners held in cages like animals in La Caba–a, the prison now run by that Argentine monster. She hasn't watched Cuban blood spill on the ground.

But our father has.

He turns and silences her with a look, one he rarely employs yet is supremely effective. For most of our lives, he's left the care of his daughters to our mother and our nanny, Magda, too busy running his sugar company and playing politics. But these are extraordinary times, the stakes higher than any we've ever faced. There is nothing Fidel would love more than to make an example of Emilio Perez and his family-the quintessential image of everything his revolution seeks to destroy. We're not the wealthiest family in Cuba, or the most powerful one, but the close relationship between my father and the former president is impossible to ignore. Even the careless words of a thirteen-year-old girl can prove deadly in this climate.

Maria falls silent.

Our mother walks beside our father, her head held high. She insisted we wear our finest dresses today, hats and gloves, brushed our hair until it gleamed. It wouldn't do for her daughters to look anything but their best, even in exile.

Defiant in defeat.

We might not have fought in the mountains, haven't held weapons in our glove-covered hands, but there is a battle in all of us. One Fidel has ignited like a flame that will never be extinguished. And so we walk toward the gate in our favorite dresses, Cuban pride and pragmatism on full display. It's our way of taking the gowns with us, even if they're missing the jewels that normally adorn them. What remains of our jewelry is buried in the backyard of our home.

For when we return.

To be Cuban is to be proud-it is both our greatest gift and our biggest curse. We serve no kings, bow no heads, bear our troubles on our backs as though they are nothing at all. There is an art to this, you see. An art to appearing as though everything is effortless, that your world is a gilded one, when the reality is that your knees beneath your silk gown buckle from the weight of it all. We are silk and lace, and beneath them we are steel.

We try to preserve the fiction that this is merely a vacation, a short trip abroad, but the gazes following us around the airport know better-

Beatriz's fingers wrap around mine for one blissful moment. Those olive green-clad sentries watch our every move. There's something reassuring in her fear, in that crack in the facade. I don't let go.

The world as we know it has died, and I do not recognize the one that has taken its place.

A sense of hopelessness overpowers the departure area. You see it in the eyes of the men and women waiting to board the plane, in the tired set of their shoulders, the shock etched across their faces, their possessions clutched in their hands. It's present in the somber children, their laughter extinguished by the miasma that has overtaken all of us.

This used to be a happy place. We would welcome our father when he returned from a business trip, sat in these same seats three years earlier, full of excitement to travel to New York on vacation.

We take our seats, huddling together, Beatriz on one side of me, Maria on the other. Isabel sits apart from us, her pain a mantle around her shoulders. There are different degrees of loss here, the weight of what we leave behind inescapable.

My parents sit with their fingers intertwined, one of the rare displays of physical affection I've ever seen them partake in, worry in their eyes, grief in their hearts.

How long will we be gone? When will we return? Which version of Cuba will greet us when we do?

We've been here for hours now, the seconds creeping by with interminable slowness. My dress itches, a thin line of sweat running down my neck. Nausea rolls around in my stomach, an acrid taste in my mouth.

"I'm going to be sick," I murmur to Beatriz.

She squeezes my fingers. "No, you're not. We're almost there."

I beat the nausea back, staring down at the ground in front of me. The weight of the stares is pointed and sharp, and at the same time, it's as if we exist in a vacuum. The sound has been sucked from the room save for the occasional rustle of clothing, the stray sob. We exist in a state of purgatory, waiting, waiting-

"Now boarding . . ."

My father rises from his seat on creaky limbs; he's aged years in the nearly two months since President Batista fled the country, since the winds of revolution drifted from the Sierra Maestra to our corner of the island. Emilio Perez was once revered as one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in Cuba; now there's little to distinguish my father from the man sitting across the aisle, from the gentleman lining up at the gate. We're all citizens of no country now, all orphans of circumstance.

I reach out and take Maria's hand with my spare one.

She's silent, as though reality has finally sunk in. We all are.

We walk in a line, somber and reticent, making our way onto the tarmac. There's no breeze in the air today, the heat overpowering as we shuffle forward, the sun beating down on our backs, the plane looming in front of us.

I can't do this. I can't leave. I can't stay.

Beatriz pulls me forward, a line of Perez girls, and I continue on.

We board the plane in an awkward shuffle, the silence cracking and splintering as hushed voices give way to louder ones, a cacophony of tears filling the cabin. Wails. Now that we've escaped the departure area, the veneer of civility is stripped away to something unvarnished and raw-

Mourning.

I take a seat next to the window, peering out the tiny glass, hoping for a better view than that of the airport terminal, hoping . . .

We roll back from the gate with a jolt and lurch, silence descending in the cabin. In a flash, it's New Year's Eve again and I'm standing in the ballroom of my parents' friends' house, a glass of champagne in one hand. I'm laughing, my heart so full. There's fear lingering in the background, both fear and uncertainty, but there's also a sense of hope.

In minutes, my entire world changed.

President Batista has fled the country! Long live a free Cuba!

Is this freedom?

We're gaining speed now, hurtling down the runway. My body heaves with the movement, and I lose the battle, grabbing the bag in the seat pocket in front of me, emptying the contents of my stomach.

Beatriz strokes my back as I hunch over, as the wheels leave the ground, as we soar into the sky. The nausea hits me again and again, an ignominious parting gift, and when I finally look up, a startling shock of blue and green greets me, an artist's palette beneath me.

When Christopher Columbus arrived in Cuba, he described it as the most beautiful land human eyes had ever seen. And it is. But there's more beyond the sea, the mountains, the clear sky. There's so much more that we leave behind us.

How long will we be gone?

A year? Two?

Ojal‡.

Marisol

january 2017

When I was younger, I begged my grandmother to tell me about Cuba. It was a mythical island, contained in my heart, entirely drawn from the version of Cuba she created in exile in Miami and the stories she shared with me. I was caught between two lands-two iterations of myself-the one I inhabited in my body and the one I lived in my dreams.

We'd sit in the living room of my grandparents' sprawling house in Coral Gables, and she'd show me old photos that had been smuggled out of the country by intrepid family members, weaving tales about her life in Havana, the adventures of her siblings, painting a portrait of a land that existed in my imagination. Her stories smelled of gardenias and jasmine, tasted of plantains and mamey, and always, the sound of her old record player. Each time she'd finish her tale she'd smile and promise I would see it myself one day, that we'd return in grand style, reopening her family's seaside estate in Varadero and the elegant home that took up nearly the entire block of a tree-lined street in Havana.

When Fidel dies, we'll return. You'll see.

And finally, after nearly sixty years of keeping Cubans in suspense, of false alarms and hoaxes, he did die, outlasting my grandmother by mere months. The night he died, my family opened a bottle of champagne my great-grandfather had bought nearly sixty years ago for such an occasion, toasting Castro's demise in our inimitable fashion. The champagne, sadly, like Fidel himself, was past its prime, but we partied on Calle Ocho in Miami until the sun rose, and still-

Still we remain.

His death did not erase nearly sixty years of exile, or ensure a future of freedom. Instead I'm smuggling my grandmother's ashes inside my suitcase, concealed as jars in my makeup case, honoring her last request to me while we pray, hope, wait for things to change.

When I die, take me back to Cuba. Spread my ashes over the land I love. You'll know where.

And now sitting on the plane somewhere between Mexico City and Havana, armed with a notebook filled with scribbled street names and places to visit, a guidebook I purchased off the Internet, I have no clue where to lay her to rest.

They read my grandmother's will six months ago, thirty family members seated in a conference room in our attorney's office on Brickell. Her sisters were there-Beatriz and Maria. Isabel passed away the year before. Their children came with their spouses and their children, the next generations paying their respects. Then there was my father-her only child-my two sisters, and me.

The main parts of her will were fairly straightforward, no major surprises to be expected. My grandfather had died over two decades earlier and turned the family sugar business over to my father to run. There was the house in Palm Beach, which went to my sister Daniela. The farm in Wellington and the horses were left to my sister Lucia, the middle child. And I ended up with the house in Coral Gables, the site of so many imaginary trips to Cuba.

There were monetary bequests, and artwork, lists upon lists of items read by the attorney in a matter-of-fact tone, his announcements met with the occasional tear or exclamation of gratitude. And then there was her final wish-

Grandparents aren't supposed to play favorites, but my grandmother never played by anyone else's rules. Maybe it was the fact that I came into the world two months before my mother caught my father in bed with a rubber heiress. Lucia and Daniela had years of family unity before the Great Divorce, and after that, they had a bond with my mother I never quite achieved. My early years were logged between strategy sessions at the lawyers' offices, shuttled back and forth between homes, until finally my mother washed her hands of it all and went back to Spain, leaving me under the care of my grandmother. So perhaps because I was the daughter she never had, yet raised as her own, it made sense that she charged me with this-

No one in the family questioned it.

From her sisters, I received a list of addresses-including the Perez estate in Havana and the beach house no one had seen in over fifty years. They put me in contact with Ana Rodriguez, my grandmother's childhood best friend. Despite the passage of time, she'd been gracious enough to offer to host me for the week I'd be in Cuba. Perhaps she could shed some light on my grandmother's final resting place.

You always wanted to see Cuba, and it's my greatest regret that we were unable to do so in my lifetime. I am consoled, at least, by the image of you strolling along the Malec—n, the spray of salt water on your face. I imagine you kneeling in the pews of the Cathedral of Havana, sitting at a table at the Tropicana. Did I ever tell you about the night we snuck out and went to the club?

I always dreamed Fidel would die before me, that I would return home. But now my dream is a different one. I am an old woman, and I have come to accept that I will never see Cuba again. But you will.

To be in exile is to have the things you love most in the world-the air you breathe, 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.

My Cuba is gone, the Cuba I gave to you over the years swept away by the winds of revolution. It's time for you to discover your own Cuba.

Reading Group Guide

Readers Guide for Next Year in Havana

Discussion Questions

1. The novel alternates between Elisa Perez’s life in Cuba in 1958 and 1959 and her granddaughter Marisol Ferrera’s trip to Cuba in 2017. Which woman did you identify with more? What parallels can you see between their personalities and their lives? What differences?

2. The first chapter ends with Elisa wondering how long her family will be away from Cuba. The final chapter ends over a decade later with her posing the same question. How are the themes of hope and exile illustrated in the book? How does the weight of exile affect the Perez family?

3. When Marisol arrives in Cuba she struggles with identifying as Cuban because she grew up in the United States and because she has never set foot on Cuban soil. How much does a physical place define one’s identity? How does Marisol’s trip alter her views about being Cuban and change her perception of herself? How do Marisol and her family attempt to keep their heritage alive in exile? Are there stories and rituals handed down through the generations in your family?

4. Like her grandmother, Marisol falls in love with a man who has revolutionary political leanings. What similarities can you see between Pablo's and Luis’s dreams for Cuba? What differences are there in their worldview? How do they go about achieving their dreams for a better Cuba?

5. Sacrifice is a major theme that runs throughout the novel. How do the characters make sacrifices for one another, and what are some examples of them risking their safety and security for their loved ones? How do you think you would have acted in similar situations?

6. Family plays an important role in the novel, and each of the characters face their own struggles in their attempts to live up to their family’s expectations. What are some examples of this? Did you identify with one character’s point of view more? Are there certain expectations in your own family? Do you feel the need to live up to them? How have they shaped your life decisions?

7. Elisa’s final wish is to have her ashes scattered over Cuban soil. Do you agree with her decision? Would you have wanted your ashes spread in Cuba or would you have preferred to be buried on American soil? Do you think Marisol picked the best place to spread Elisa’s ashes? Where else would you have considered scattering them? Have you scattered the ashes of a loved one? What was the experience like?

8. What initially attracts Elisa to Pablo? Do you believe they would have been able to overcome the differences between them if they weren’t caught in the midst of the Cuban Revolution? Or was their love fueled by the urgency of the times?

9. Elisa chooses to save her letters from Pablo and her memories of their romance by burying them in a box in the backyard. If you had a box in which to bury your most precious possessions, what would you choose to keep safe?

10. What parallels do you see between life in modern Cuba and life in pre-revolutionary Cuba? What differences?

11. Pablo tells Elisa that everything is political. Do you agree with him?

12. Despite coming from very different backgrounds, Marisol and Luis share many similarities that bring them together as a couple. What are some examples of this? Why do you think they get along so well? Do you think they are a good influence on each other?

13. Pablo believes that the best way to change his country is from within. Others like Elisa’s family choose to leave Cuba because they can no longer support the regime. Which approach do you identify with? What are the differences between the Cubans who remained in Cuba and those who live in exile? What are the similarities?

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Next Year in Havana 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 37 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was a lovely read -it shed light on Cuba and cuban history. Made me realize how little I know the country and the events of its history. I look forward to her next book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Truly amazing book made me feel like I was in Cuba and had experienced the revolution I could feel the love the storytelling really immersed me in the story loved it
Book_and_recipe_Examiner More than 1 year ago
To be a Cuban-American woman is a difficult thing to explain. It means to long for an island you’ve never seen, despise a dictator you’ve never met, mourn for the loss of family members and possessions others could not take with them, and feel tremendous pressure to cook perfectly, be a beautiful wife, and succeed greater in your career than the generations before you who sacrificed and lost more than they’re ever willing to divulge. Marisol Ferrera is such a woman, a writer whose cherished Cuban immigrant grandmother has just past and left it to her to go to Cuba and find the perfect final resting place. But when she arrives, she finds letters her grandmother never shared, from a man the young Elisa loved long before Marisol’s grandfather, in the last days of the Cuban revolution that placed Fidel Castro in power. Elisa is a society girl of nineteen who knows nothing of revolution, other than her brother has been outcast from the family for speaking out against Batista’s injustices. But at a party, she meets a man named Pablo, filled with passion to right the social exploitations of his country’s leadership, and bring in a new way of living, of ending the suffering for the poor of whom Elisa knows nothing. While Pablo awoke Elisa’s mind to the sufferings of the Cuban people, so does the grandson of Elisa’s best childhood friend who remained in Cuba, a handsome university professor named Luis. He takes Marisol on a tour of the island for her magazine article, but he also tells her the truths that the government wishes no one to know, about what life is really like for the Cuban people, and what it means to be truly Cuban. Chanel Cleeton captures more than the essence of Cuba, she brings a country and its passions to life, while showing how to hold empathy even for an enemy, and fury even for a comrade. Next Year in Havana inflames the emotions, from rage at injustice, to peace at the sounds of the sea and the Malecon, and mouth-watering hunger for paella, ropa vieja, and espresso. Our hearts our broken at each loss, each death, yet still, somehow, filled with hope, like a true Cuban. For discussion questions, similar books, or a themed recipe of Mamey cupcakes with coconut frosting, visit http://hub.me/alTob
Anonymous 7 months ago
I+can%27t+believe+how+well+she+captured+the+Cuba+of+before+and+the+Cuba+of+today+with+all+the+sentiments+attached+to+the+exile+community+and+those+that+stayed.+The+characters+are+compelling+and+the+writing+excellent.+I+couldn%27t+put+it+down%21
Anonymous 8 months ago
So+loved+this+book%2C+the+stories+of+Cuba%2C+the+true+loves+and+did+not+want+it+to+end%21%21
Anonymous 9 months ago
I thought the story started out with potential, but soon turned to be a very silly story. The main character was in Cuba one week and had about a years worth of experiences. The grandfather part was the most ridiculous scenario.
Anonymous 11 months ago
Wonderful story learned so much about what happened with Battista & Castro
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
beautifully+written
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this story. Great story to read following my trip to Havanna.
Anonymous 2 days ago
This is a wonderful book, I loved the way the author blended the past and present day. Very interesting background stories also. Enjoyed it much!
Anonymous 22 days ago
Anonymous 29 days ago
Marisol is dumb. She claims “I’m a journalist in me forces me to know the truth “ NO she is not a journalist. She even says that’s she’s not. Most of the time I was just hoping her dumb self would get a bullet at the end. Her family warned her. And the people that she lived with warned her. She could not get it. The love story did not by into it. Happened too fast seemed . Love story was meh. Great story. Marisol is a idiot.
Honolulubelle 3 months ago
Favorite Quotes: … there’s a faint sheen of gray that adorns the landscape as though the entire city needs a good scrubbing. Havana is like a woman who was grand once and has fallen on hard times, and yet hints of her former brilliance remain, traces of an era since passed, a photograph faded by time and circumstance, its edges crumbling to dust. I feel as though I’ve become a point of curiosity, an exhibit like the island of crocodiles at the Havana Zoo, those mighty animals sunning their backs with contempt for the gawking tourists and locals who point and exclaim over their size. Being a Perez in Havana— one of the sugar queens— is akin to wondering if you should charge admission for the window into your life… There’s a different level of poverty in Cuba that suggests that not only is the deck stacked against you, but someone keeps stealing all the cards. Terrible things rarely happen all at once… They’re incremental, so people don’t realize how bad things have gotten until it’s too late. My Review: I confess to blatant ignorance about Cuba, past or present. Before picking up this exceptionally detailed account, my accumulated knowledge about Cuba was limited to vague memory of the rafters, something about JFK and the Bay of Pigs fiasco, and that Fidel Castro had been an oppressive communist dictator who gave long boring speeches that he forced his citizens to listen to for hours on end in the heat and sun, I remember my severely strict sixth grade teacher fervently pounding that last fact home and later putting on a test. I also have a vivid memory of looking at a picture of the heavily reviled man with an unkempt beard and dressed in green fatigues and a billed cap and thinking him an unhinged monster; an opinion that apparently was deeply imprinted on my gray matter as it has held through to present day. Chanel Cleeton’s highly descriptive and epic story was written in dual timelines and from a dual POV, and I enjoyed the juxtaposition. Sixty-years after her then nineteen-year-old grandmother had fled a dangerous and chaotic Cuba with her family, Marisol takes a trip to Cuba to spread her grandmother’s ashes and hopefully learn about her family history while traveling under the guise of a journalistic junket to gather information for a tourism article about Cuba. Careful what you wish for - she uncovered dark secrets that her beloved grandmother had never hinted it, as well as stunning revelations concerning her family tree. The storylines were lushly detailed and swirling with atmosphere, and could easily be deployed as a fully fleshed-out screenplay. The emotional tone was fraught with tension and heavy with angst. I could have done with about one hundred fewer pages repeatedly outlining the abuses and folly of past and present political systems, as politics are just not my jam. However, the examples of basic day-to-day challenges the politically polarized Cuban citizens endured and continue to struggle with carried considerable more impact for me and were expertly executed. I have been schooled, and in a significantly more entertaining manner than my harsh and unyielding sixth-grader teacher could have ever aspired to.
BMedvid 6 months ago
“ I am Cuban, and yet, I am not. I don’t know where I fit here, in the land of my grandparents, attempting to recreate a Cuba that no longer exists in reality. Perhaps we’re the dreamers in all of this; the hopeful ones. Dreaming of a Cuba we cannot see with our eyes, that we cannot touch, whose taste lingers on our palates, with the tang of memory.” “I walk down these streets, and I look out to sea, and I want to feel as though I belong here, but I am a visitor here, a guest in my own country… then you know what it means to be Cuban … we always reach for something beyond our grasp.” This story revolved around Marisol Ferraro and her grandmother, Elisa Perez. As the book begins, Elisa had just passed and in her will, she requested that Marisol disperse her cremated remains back in her beloved home of Cuba. As a wealthy, influential family that supported Batista, the Perez family chose to flee Cuba as Castro rose to power. Elisa was a privileged young woman with great hopes that they would soon be able to return home. However, she spent the remainder of her life in Miami regaling her children and grandchildren with tales of her love for Cuba. “Next year in Havana” is a toast that the family never stopped saying because the dream of returning never came true. The novel tells the parallel stories of Elisa’s last year in Cuba and Marisol’s visit to Cuba. Both women, decades apart, face complicated love stories with ardent revolutionaries and live in perilous political climates that ultimately force them to face what it means to be Cuban. Can one “be of a place” without being “from the place”? Cleeton allows Cuba to shine and be a star character in this novel. She captures and shares its beauty, people, history, customs, fortunes, and misfortunes with great care and devotion. She displays a real passion for Cuba and contrasts the dream of “old Cuba” with the reality of current Cuba. During both decades, the characters dream for a better future and hope to stop being guests in their own country. As a reader, I learned quite a bit about the past and present political climates of Cuba. My one complaint about the novel was that at times it felt too much like a political lecture about Cuba. I suspect the author’s intent with this was to show how important political forces were and are to the Cuban people in terms of shaping their lives and country. Next Year in Havana was an interesting book and definitely worth the read. It was a love story, on multiple levels, combined with a history and politics lesson. It makes the reader both feel and think. Cleeton has another novel about the Perez family coming out in April 2019 titled When We Left Cuba. It follows Elisa’s older sister, Beatriz. I look forward to continuing to read about the family and, of course, Cuba.
Rhonda-Runner1 8 months ago
I was very fortunate to win a signed copy of this wonderful book through one of the many book groups I belong to on Facebook. I immediately fell in love with this story very early on. Elisa Perez is the daughter of a sugar baron in Havana in 1958. She meets and falls in love with Pablo who is part of the revolutionary. The family has to flee Havana and they settle in Florida. Fast forward to present day when Elisa's granddaughter, Marisol, is asked to take Elisa's ashes to Havana where she will stay with her grandmother's best friend Ana. At Ana's home, Marisol meets Ana's grandson, Luis, and lots of things happen after that. The story alternates between 1958 Havana and Elisa's life to present day Havana and Marisol who begins to discover numerous family secrets. I thoroughly enjoyed this wonderful book and visiting Cuba has been added to my bucket list. I highly recommend this book.
OMillard 10 months ago
This book tells it like it was. I was born in Cuba and left there at the age of nine, two years after the revolution. I was taken back to the those days, before we were able to leave. The "don't tell anyone warning", from my parents, once we had decided to leave. Walking around pretending everything was fine, when in fact we were terrified. As much as our parents tried to shield us, we knew life as we had experienced it was about to change. My sister and I were part of the Operation Peter Pan airlifts. My parents had to stay behind, while we flew to the United States and were placed in a Catholic orphanage, until they were able to leave. We left everything behind, our house, car, personal belongings, but most importantly, our family and friends. I never saw my grandmother, aunts , uncles, cousins again. So grateful for my life in this country. Reading this book makes me realize once more how fortunate we were to get out when we did, and that if not for my parents strength my life would have been so different.
Two2dogs 11 months ago
Loved this story, have two friends who both left Cuba with their families just as Castro was taking over, both women come from well to do families so had the means of leaving Cuba, so this story really made me think of my dear friends who to this day, after being in America for 60 years still say they want to return to Cuba!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Katie__B More than 1 year ago
This book has been on my radar for awhile and I was so excited to finally have the opportunity to read it. I don't normally comment on book covers, but this one is absolutely stunning and whoever designed it deserves some praise. The story that unfolded between the front and back covers was really some compelling historical fiction. So I'll admit I did not know much about the Cuban Revolution prior to reading this book. One reason I love historical fiction is sometimes it gives you the opportunity to learn an important part of history and allows you to connect with characters in a way that might not happen with nonfiction books. In this case it was hard not to immediately be drawn to Marisol, who has arrived in Cuba with the intent to spread her late grandmother Elisa's ashes. The action switches back and forth between the present day and the events of the late 1950s which led to Elisa and her family fleeing their home country. As Marisol learns more about her grandmother's past, she realizes maybe she didn't quite know her as well as she thought she did. I thought the author did a fine job capturing the complex feelings of the characters with regards to the country they loved. I think it is easy to make judgments based on decades later knowing how things played out but through the eyes of certain characters I was better able to understand their beliefs and the choices they made. My only real criticism is sometimes the story and dialogue got bogged down too much by the desire of the author to include as much information as possible about Cuba to the reader. There were a few instances in which I felt the dialogue came across stilted and textbook like rather than a natural conversation. Overall, a fine work of historical fiction and I am really looking forward to the author's next book which will feature the character of Beatriz. To be honest, I hope eventually all of the sisters and brother get their own novel because I think the author has a knack for capturing the voices of not only Cuban refugees but those that remained in the country as well. Thank you to Berkley Publishing Group for sending me a free copy of this book! All views expressed are my honest opinion.
BookWorm221 More than 1 year ago
I really didn't know what to expect from this book because I rarely read historic romance but being Chanel who wrote it and having loved her books in the past I knew I needed to read it. Next Year in Havan is told in two different voices, one is Elisa, she is living in Cuba in a tume of political turmoil, through her eyes we see what it was like living in Cuba at that time, the heartache she experience at seeing her world change drastically and how she fell in love with a man that she knew was going to bring her so much sorrow. The other narrator is Marisol and through her eyes we see modern Cuba, how people live and how much thinga need to change for the people living there. Marisol meets Luis and she finds what it was missing from her previous relationships but she knows them being together is going to be very hard. Chanel writes about Cuba in a way that makes you want to go and find books on these historical moments, she made want to find out more and more about it and also she made me remember when I was there visiting a few years ago. I found this book beautifully written, whit rich characters that commanded your attention. I look forward to put more pieces together in the Perez family history.
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings Cuba is on the short list of places I want to visit and after reading this book, it completely remains there. A country that almost had the pause button pushed on innovation and infrastructure and has survived through many a men with differing opinions on how to move the country forward. I have never read a book set in Cuba and after reading this one, I am going to seek out more!
Candice_S More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this read - although it was a massive departure from my usual genre of crime/murder/mystery. Next Year in Havana follows Marisol, whose beloved grandmother has just passed away, and left in her will that she wants Marisol to take her ashes home to Cuba to be spread. Intertwined with Marisol's journey to Cuba, is the story of her grandmother, Elise, from her time as a young girl growing up in Cuba in the 1950's during the Cuban revolution, and her eventual exile to America. Chanel Cleeton writes beautifully, and brings Cuba to life for the reader. The research conducted for this book was thorough - there is a healthy dose of history and culture that the reader can dive fully into and be left feeling like you know Cuba like a dear old friend. I found myself drawn far more to the chapters unraveling Elise's story - being the daughter of a sugar baron, in a time of complete unrest where no one, particularly the rich, were safe from anything, and falling in love with a Cuban revolutionary. I could have read an entire book based solely on Elise's life story. Which - for fans of this book - you will be very excited to know that Chanel is now at work writing another chapter of this story, this time from the perspective of Elise's complex and spunky older sister, Beatrix. I, for one, cannot WAIT for that to be released. Overall, a highly interesting read, especially for those who enjoy historical fiction.
EverAfterBookReviews More than 1 year ago
Review written by Marie for Ever After Book Reviews! Ooooooookay. This book was kind of like 2 stories in one, so let me… explain. Marisol is our main character of the book. After her beloved grandmother passes away, she is drawn to the stories and the romanticism that was her grandmother, Elisa’s, life. Swept up in what she’s heard of her grandmother’s life in Cuba, Marisol plans a trip there, and finds out there’s more than she bargained for when it comes to her family’s past. What makes this so unique, however, is that the book is written in past and present – it tells the story of Elisa’s life in 1950s Cuba, and Marisol’s life in real-time. So, because of that, I’ll review this one a little differently. Elisa’s Storyline This was, by far, my favorite storyline of the book. The amount of detail that was put in to describing life in Cuba at this time, transported me there. Living every detail and every moment with each word. It was absolutely beautiful. The culture, the life, the romance… I was swept up in it and was so disappointed when I had to leave this storyline as I was reading. Elisa’s relationship with Pablo was so…… *sigh* Their love was so genuine, so beautiful… so pure. My heart broke at their struggle to steal precious moments with one another during the revolution. Just… wow. Marisol’s Storyline Her storyline was incredibly sweet, until it wasn’t. She meets Luis at the Havana International Airport, and spends a week with him. I really enjoyed them together. But then Luis, quite frankly, pissed me off. His inability to make good decisions irritated me… which then made me irritated with Marisol. A week in to a relationship and home girl is spewing “I love you” to this man. Really? The Secret Yeah, don’t worry. I won’t reveal WHAT it is. But I can tell you that it was written very nicely as a HUGE plot twist that I never would have seen coming. However, once the revelation of the twist happens, Marisol, yet again, gets… annoying. Enter a reader’s worst nightmare: WAY. TOO. MUCH. INNER. MONOLOGUE. Please, please stop with the head ramblings, authors. It’s in no way beneficial to the story whatsoever. Cuba I’ve already said… the details that the author went in to to describe Cuba were incredible. I seriously felt like I was there. Overall This book had over-the-top great parts… and then some not so great parts. But overall, it was an enjoyable read with a lot of history. I really did enjoy it, for the most part, and would even go so far as to say that if a few things had been done differently, it may have been the best book I’d read all year. ***I voluntarily read a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and feelings are my own***
CharlotteLynnsReviews More than 1 year ago
Next Year in Havana is told in dual time periods. Elisa Perez tells her story from the 1950’s Cuba and Marisol Ferrera, Elisa’s granddaughter, tells of the 2017 Cuba. Many years separate their stories, things have changed, things have stayed the same, and there is so much of Marisol’s family history to be discovered while in Cuba. I have never been to Cuba and have no ties to Cuba. Yet, while I was reading the book I felt like I was there. I could picture Havana, see the beautiful water, and feel the struggles of the Cuba people. I could also imagine Marisol’s awe at going to a country that she had only heard stories about yet it still played such a huge part of her life. Her entire family history centered on and around Cuba and now she was there. Next Year in Havana is an emotional story that tells so much history and family stories. There is hope, love, and strength in family. It is early in 2018 but this is definitely going to be on my favorite reads of 2018 .
Caroles_Random_Life More than 1 year ago
This was such a lovely story! I have to admit that the beautiful cover of this book is what first caught my attention. Once I took a closer look, I decided to give it a try since the story sounded really interesting. The book ended up being more than interesting. I was swept away by the story and felt Cuba come alive within the pages. I am so glad that I decided to give this book a try. This story is told in two timelines. Marisol's story is set in 2017 shortly after her grandmother's death. She goes to Cuba to see the country where her grandmother grew up and find the right place to spread her ashes. Elisa is Marisol's grandmother. Her story is set in 1958 as Cuba is in crisis. I really enjoyed both of the timelines equally and loved how everything came together. I really liked the characters in this book. Elisa and her family were in a very difficult situation. The fact that Elisa and two of her sisters were young adults trying to find their place in the world only made things more difficult for them. Elisa was willing to following her emotions even when she knew it may not be the safe choice. I could really feel all of her struggle as she tries to figure out what to do. Marisol was very close to her grandmother and is eager to see the Cuba she has heard so much about. I liked Marisol right away. I liked how she took her responsibility to carry out her grandmother's wishes so seriously and wanted to learn more about her life in Cuba. I thought that all of the secondary characters were very well done in the story as well. I think that the setting of this book really helped it stand out. I have read very little of Cuba and am a bit ashamed by how little I really know of the country. I felt like Cuba came alive in the pages of this book. The setting really almost became a character in the book. The descriptions were so vivid that I really felt that I could close my eyes and see the things that the characters saw. The mystery of the story really kept my interest. I wanted to know what had happened to Elisa all those years ago and was eager to learn what Marisol would find. I was equally interested in seeing how the events in the book would impact Marisol's life. There were a few twists along the way and enough excitement to keep the pages turning. I would highly recommend this book to others. I thought that this book told a remarkable story that will stay with me for a long time. This was the first book by Chanel Cleeton that I have had the chance to read and I look forward to reading more of her work in the future. I received an advance reader edition of this book from Berkley Publishing Group via NetGalley.