Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton
This was courtesy of another NetGalley request. Have I mentioned how much I love NetGalley? Getting a chance to read books early is my favorite!
Anyway. So, Cuba.
I’m not going to lie….I don’t profess to know a lot about Cuba, it’s culture, or the revolution that has led to it’s current state. This book, while fiction, still provides a great history lesson for those of us not in the know.
The story of Marisol Ferrera and her journey to connect with her Grandmother’s home country of Cuba after her passing is very moving. Told between Marisol’s journey, and the time leading up to her Grandmother’s family fleeing the country after Fidel Castro takes power. Marisol learns secrets of her Grandmother’s life that change the way she looked at her family and the country that she had never been to before.
Her Grandmother Elisa’s last wish is to have her ashes spread over the country she loved, and she trusts her favorite grandchild to do it. Marisol travels to Cuba, not knowing what to expect. She connects with Elisa’s best friend and starts to learn more about her Grandmother’s life before the revolutionaries took over. Her family was rich and friendly with the Batista regime, which is what the revolutionaries were fighting against. The story shows how Elisa meets a young man who changes her view on both the regime and Fidel’s revolution. Ultimately her family needs to flee and heads to Miami. They rebuild their lives there and Elisa starts a new life.
Marisol is on a journey of her own back to her grandmother’s homeland. She meets a young man who inspires her in ways she didn’t know. Even though Fidel is dead, there is still crack downs on protests, bloggers, and revolutionary ideas. Marisol realizes that there is a lot left to learn about Cuba and her family. A major secret is revealed which puts her and her fellow in danger. There plight mirrors what Elisa went through during the Fidel revolution.
I have to say, I loved learning more about Cuba’s history. This book will eventually follow with another story about one of Elisa’s sisters who may or may not have worked with revolutionaries in the past. I’d be excited to read that one too!
While the book started slow, once the revolution kicked off in Elisa’s time and Marisol started to learn more about her Grandmother’s life the book really started to hook me. By then I couldn’t put it down (metaphorically of course….I was reading it on my kindle.) I can’t wait for the next book in the series.
Also, I loved learning that Cuban exiles toast ever year with the saying “Next year in Havana…” They are always tied to their country, even if they don’t know if they’d ever go back or make it back.
This was a great book that tied history, mystery, and romance.