Next Year in Havana
February 6, 2018
Genre: Women’s Fiction/Historical Fiction
Publication Date: February 6, 2018
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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I have never read such a poignant story, one that is so eloquently written, blending both bittersweet moments with those filled with love and hope. Cleeton’s story tells the history of tragic heartache while still somehow keeping hope and a pursuit of what is deemed right and worthy at the forefront. Next Year in Havana stunned me. The beautiful imagery of pre Castro Cuba paints a picture that slowly crumbles as you read. Jumping in time from 1959 to the present allows the reader to put together a mural full of so many conflicting emotions and colors. Elisa and Marisol’s stories might be centuries apart but they are so alike in their trajectory. The innocence is lost in the face of injustice and love takes root in the most unlikely of places.
I don’t know which timeline was my favorite in this book. I guess you could say that one would not be as powerful without the other. The past sets the stage for the future, and the future needs to find what happened in the past. Marisol is a beautiful character, one caught between who she is taught to be and who she is becoming. Watching her make choices and navigate the dangers of her new reality is not something to take lightly. To be Cuban, living a life exiled from your country, is a way of life for her and her family. They have longed for years to return to their homeland, but that will never be the case for so many of them. Elisa embodies an innocence that falls apart in front of you. It is both beautiful and haunting to watch events unfold. As you go back and forth in time, something Cleeton shares with such brilliant precision, you wonder how anything good can come from what is happening. The history and actual reality of what happened is shared in a way that leaves a mark. There is a melancholy that cannot be denied between the pages of this book. But where there is so little hope, beauty somehow springs forth. Second chances are given and reality is altered forever.
I wish I could read this book again, as if for the first time. Cleeton’s writing has never been so powerful. I was moved in a way I have not been in so long. This story tugs and rips at your heartstrings, giving you a story that is real, harsh, and achingly lovely. I cannot wait to know more of the Perez family, to see what happened with Beatriz in 1959 and beyond.
Praise for Next Year in Havana…
Chanel Cleeton’s Next Year In Havana is a flat-out stunner of a book, at once a dual-timeline mystery, a passionate romance, and paean to the tragedy and beauty of war-torn Cuba. The story of sugar heiress Elisa, watching Cuba fall into revolution as Castro rises, is intertwined with the modern-day tale of Elisa’s granddaughter Marisol as she returns to Cuba after Castro’s death. Both women fall for fire-brand revolutionaries, but Cuba itself emerges as their true love-interest, threatening to break both women’s hearts as Elisa and Marisol each grapple in their own way with what it is to be Cuban, what it is to be an exile, and how to love and live in a homeland riven by revolution. Simply wonderful!
– Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Alice Network
Cleeton has penned an atmospheric, politically insightful, and highly hopeful homage to a lost world. Devour NEXT YEAR IN HAVANA and you, too, will smell the perfumed groves, taste the ropa vieja, and feel the sun on your face. Just a wonderful and educational book!
– Stephanie Dray, New York Times bestselling author of America’s First Daughter
A vivid, transporting novel. Next Year in Havana is about journeys– into exile, into history, and into questions of home and identity. It’s an engrossing read.
– David Ebershoff, author of The Danish Girl and The 19th Wife