In Review: Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

Posted March 19, 2019 by Kim in 5 Stars, In Review / 0 Comments

In Review: Next Year in Havana by Chanel CleetonNext Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton
Genres: Historical Fiction
Publication date: February 6, 2018
Publisher: Berkley
Format: Paperback, 361 pages
How I got it: From the publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon
Reading Challenges: 2019 Romanceopoly, 2019 Tackle My TBR Challenge
My rating:

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.

I received a complimentary copy of this book for review consideration.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

In Review: My Thoughts

Y’all. This book. If I’m totally honest, I wasn’t sure I would ever read Next Year in Havana, even though Chanel Cleeton is one of my favorite authors. I didn’t think historical fiction was something I would be interested in. Fast forward to 2019, when I did my first roll for Romanceopoly and it landed on Memory Lane. I had to pick a historical fiction to read. I didn’t hesitate before deciding to give this one a shot. It was AMAZING. Next Year in Havana was responsible for one of my biggest book hangovers in my entire reading history. (And I’ve been reading for a long time, y’all.)

I’ve been sitting on this review for ages now because I don’t think there’s anything I can say that hasn’t been said before. Or that will do this gorgeous book justice. When I began reading Next Year in Havana, I did it via audiobook. I thought maybe that would help me remain interested in the story if it started to drag. What in the world was I thinking? This story drag? No freaking way. I was so desperate for my next opportunity to get more of Elisa and Marisol that I was almost looking forward to my commute. It finally hit a point where I had to give up listening because I just couldn’t wait. Also, I was about 99% sure this book was going to wind up in me crying ALL THE TEARS on public transportation.

Turns out that was a solid life choice. Before this book was over, I was doing the full-on ugly cry. I’m talking shoulder-shaking sobs and all. Everything about Next Year in Havana did things to my heart. The romances, the family relationships, the history of Cuba itself. I can barely talk about this book without getting tears in my eyes. Yes there was sadness, but there was also hope and beauty. (By the way, totally tearing up while writing this review, in case you were curious.) I could talk about my feelings about Next Year in Havana for hours and not say the same thing twice. But, I won’t waste your time with that.

Next Year in Havana will be on my top 10 of 2019 here in a few months. I hate that I waited so long to read it, but I’m also happy I did so when When We Left Cuba is just around the corner. I need to know more of Beatriz. You can tell when an author is in love with story she’s telling. There’s not a doubt in my mind Chanel felt this for Elisa and Pablo, Marisol and Luis. The love shined through on every page. If you’ve been holding off on reading this one for some reason, stop. Read it. You won’t be sorry.

Favorite Quotes:

That’s the thing about death—even when you think someone is gone, glimpses of them remain in those they loved and left behind.

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

“Life is too short to be unhappy to play it safe. To do what is expected of you rather than follow your heart.” 

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.

We are silk and lace, and beneath them we are steel.

About Chanel Cleeton

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.

Let’s Chat

Next Year in Havana has me intrigued about historical fiction.
Hit me with some of your favorite recs.

Kim Sig

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