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Release Review: Next Year in Havana: Chanel Cleeton

Next Year in Havana
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.

Told in split timelines, this is the story of two women in Cuba: one facing a revolution that would tear apart everything she knows, one facing a Cuba she has only heard about in family stories.

Elisa Perez was privileged, as the daughter of a sugar baron, she knew the revolution was growing, but her sheltered experience kept her from seeing the effect until a secret affair with a revolutionary opens her eyes to the struggles around her.

Marisol Ferrera grew up hearing stories of her grandmother’s childhood in Cuba, of the home and friends left behind when the Perez family fled Cuba. Now she is tasked with scattering her grandmother’s ashes in the homeland she dearly missed.

The secrets that Marisol reveals as she explores Cuba for the first time, through the lens of the stories she has heard over and over as a child, rock everything she thought she knew about her grandmother. As she learns more about the woman who had such a huge impact on her life, Marisol begins to realize that there was a whole side of her grandmother she never knew.

This left me reeling in a way that even days later I can’t find words to express what I felt reading this. I am one more generation removed from my Cuban roots than Marisol, but many of her thoughts echo thoughts I have had as I consider where my roots are and how connected (or disconnected) they may be.

The descriptions, settings, and characters were beautiful in their depth and breadth. I felt like I was making that journey right alongside Marisol. As the story switched between Marisol’s and Elisa’s journeys, the beauty and peril flowed from one time period to the other, building and twisting as Marisol learns more about her grandmother, and more about the man she finds herself attracted to.

I can’t wait for the next book in the series. Beatrice is a bit of a mysterious firecracker, and I can’t wait to see where her adventurous streak took her, as the bits and pieces Marisol knew can only be the surface. Beatrice has her secrets and I can’t wait for them to come to light.

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Chanel Cleeton is the author of Next Year in Havana, the Wild Aces series, and the Capital Confessions series. 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 Doctor from the University of South Carolina School of Law. She loves to travel and has lived in the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia.

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