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Next Year in Havana Paperback – February 6, 2018
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Praise for Next Year in Havana
“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. 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."—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
“An evocative, passionate story of family loyalty and forbidden love that moves seamlessly between the past and present of Cuba’s turbulent history...Next Year in Havana kept me enthralled and savoring every word.”—Shelley Noble, New York Times bestselling author of Whisper Beach
“Chanel Cleeton’s prose is as beautiful as Cuba itself, and the story she weaves—of exile and loss, memory and myth, forbidden love and enduring friendship—is at once sweeping and beautifully intimate.”—Jennifer Robson, USA Today bestselling author of Somewhere in France
"A poignant tale of aristocracy, subterfuge, tyranny, conflict, corruption and courage during the Cuban Revolution…Next Year In Havana is an extraordinary journey that connects the past and present and will enthrall readers until the very end."—RT Book Review (starred review)
“An enticing and wonderful read for lovers of historical fiction and soul-searching journeys.”—Library Journal (starred review)
“An undeniably personal and intimate look at Cuba then and now, wrapped around the gripping story of two women torn between love and country.”—Renee Rosen, author of Windy City Blues
“Chanel Cleeton delivers an amazing and captivating read!”—Alix Rickloff, author of On the Way to London
“With graceful prose, Cleeton evokes the former grandeur of 1950s Cuba, and contrasts it with modern day Miami in this sweeping family saga of loss and love.”—Heather Webb, author of Last Christmas in Paris
“A compelling, un-put-downable page-turner told from two equally powerful female narratives...A must read.”—Lia Riley, author of It Happened on Love Street
“Next Year in Havana is a ravishing jewel of romance, hope, family, and the history in Cuba.”—Weina Dai Randel, author of The Moon in the Palace
“This gritty tale pulls back the curtain on revolutionary and modern Cuba, allowing us a glimpse of the courage, heartache, and sacrifices of those who left their country in exile, and also those who stayed behind.”—Stephanie Thornton, author The Conqueror's Wife
“Next Year in Havana is a riveting, moving novel that explores the ever-relevant themes of love and sacrifice, family and duty, patriotism and resistance. Cleeton describes Havana so vividly that I felt I was there. I could not put this book down!”—Alyssa Palombo, author of The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence
About the Author
Originally from Florida, Chanel Cleeton grew up on stories of her family's exodus from Cuba following the events of the Cuban Revolution. Her passion for politics and history continued during her years spent studying in England where she earned 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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Elisa Perez is from a wealthy background, secure in what her role was to be, not only as a Perez, but also as a Cuban. Under Batista’s rule, her family had favor but at what cost? We see Cuba through Elisa’s innocent eyes. From the rush of excitement meeting her first love and revolutionary, and her naïveté of a reality facing Cuba outside her gilded walls, to her world crumbling as the political regime fails and her heartsick worry over an unknown future comes to fruition, the Cuba she knew is ending. The love for her family pulled her in one direction, while the love of a man fighting for his country pulled her in yet another, but it forced Elisa to see life past her safety bubble and realize how much more she had to offer...if she only took that first step.
“At the end of the day, the only thing you have left is what you stand for.”
Pablo, Elisa’s revolutionary love, fought for his convictions and was determined to free his countrymen from a dictator. Granted, we know Cuba traded one for another, but at the time, Castro seemed like a good choice to Pablo to help break free of Batista’s tyranny. Meeting Pablo changed Elisa’s life in many ways, some painful and some unexpectedly joyful, but I believe it changed Pablo too. He saw his fight in a different light because she gave him hope a better future existed, one he had never considered before.
60 years after her grandmother and her family escape Cuba, Elisa’s granddaughter, Marisol, returns to Cuba to lay her grandmother’s ashes to rest. Staying with her grandmother’s childhood friend Ana and her family, including her grandson Luis, Marisol’s trip takes a few...personal, unexpected turns. Growing up on stories from her grandmother and her great aunts left Marisol with a romanticized version of Cuba, one that was frozen in time through memories and a longing of the way things used to be before Castro came to power. However, when faced with the true reality of what was truly left behind, Marisol is left floundering on where she truly fits in as a Cuban-American. As she tells Luis
“...I’m 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.”
Luis was a modern day revolutionary. Teaching history at the University by day, while working his family’s restaurant at night, Luis was a fascinating take on the current political climate. I could draw so many parallels between Luis and Pablo in their beliefs and identity, but simply put, they were strong individuals in their own right fighting for the same thing, just in two different eras and with mixed results.
“...the double-edged sword to being Cuban-we are both pragmatic realists and consummate dreamers.”
This book was an amazing read! Chanel Cleeton did her research and captures the romance and myth, of old and new Cuba with so much passion, it bleeds all over the pages! She conveys so much emotion in these characters...it was hard not to get sucked into their daily lives, even when you know what’s coming for Cuba. I could not tear my eyes away from the magic this story wove! (Seriously, I was reading at work whenever I had the chance to snatch a few pages in.) Passionate, riveting, heartbreaking, romantic, raw...I don’t know if I can find the appropriate words to justify the feelings this book provoked, but I can say this book is worth its weight in gold. Chanel Cleeton took a dark bit of history and brought it to light with characters full of hope and zest for a better chance at life. I find myself looking at Cuba with new eyes and a hefty dose of respect, for the struggles the people have overcome in order to survive. Definitely recommend this read!
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.
My Review of “Next Year in Havana” by Chanel Cleeton
I loved everything about “Next Year in Havana” by Chanel Cleeton. The genres for this novel are Historical Fiction and Fiction. I appreciate the descriptions of the beauty and destruction of Cuba, and both the hope and despair of the Cuban people.
The timelines for this story are 1958 in Havana Cuba, where we meet Elisa Perez, a 19-year-old unaware of Cuba’s political problems. Elisa’s family is very wealthy and produces sugar. Elisa happens to meet a young revolutionary, and her life changes forever. When Fidel Castro takes over Cuba, the Perez family is forced to leave Cuba to go to Miami.
In 2017, in Miami, Journalist Marisol Ferrara, granddaughter of Elisa is dealing with her grandmother’s death. Marisol was brought up by Elisa and has always heard stories about growing up in Cuba. Elisa honors her grandmother’s written request to take her ashes to Cuba, and find the appropriate place to scatter them.
The author describes her colorful cast of characters as complex and complicated, perhaps due to the political climate of the times. The characters are brave, courageous, and have secrets. In both timelines, it is evident that no one lives in a “free” society in Cuba. Marisol gets to see the Cuba of her grandmother’s dreams. It is an eye-opening experience in Cuba, to see how the people live today.
Kudos to the author for weaving her novel with two stories with such appropriate and descriptive detail. The author describes the importance of family, friends, loyalty, courage, love and hope. I would highly recommend this novel to readers of Historical Fiction. I received An Advanced Reading Copy for my honest review.
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With this book, Chanel Cleeton delivers a poignant, resonant, and...Read more