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.