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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton- Feature and Review


ABOUT THE BOOK:

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.


LISTEN TO AN EXCERPT:






MY REVIEW:


Next Year in HavanaNext Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton is a 2018 Penguin/Berkley publication.

Cuba- 1958

Elisa Perez, a sugar heiress, falls in love with a revolutionary. But, their lives are so far removed from one another the relationship is one that seems doomed from the start. Sure enough, she and Pablo are separated, and Elisa’s family fled to America, never to return to their beloved Cuba.

Fast forward to 2017-

“When I was younger, I begged my grandmother to tell me about Cuba. It was a mythical island, contained in my heart, entirely drawn from the version of Cuba she created in exile in Miami and the stories she shared with me. I was caught between two lands- two iterations of myself- the one I inhabited in my body and the one I lived in my dreams.”

Marisol’s grandmother dies and to honor her last wishes, Marisol smuggles her ashes into Cuba. But, arriving in Cuba is only the beginning of her adventure. She must pick the perfect spot to spread her grandmother’s ashes, so that end, she touches base with Elisa’s best friend, hoping to gain some insight. This is how she meets Luis, who escorts her around the city and helps her play amateur detective as she searches for Pablo, the love of Elisa’s life.

However, Luis’s job as a professor has him under scrutiny and Marisol has been watched since she first stepped foot in Cuba. They begin to fall in love, playing a very dangerous game with their futures and maybe even their lives. Eventually they will face a heartbreaking fork in the road where they will both have to make the most difficult choice of their lives.

This story was absolutely amazing!! It’s epic, grand, sweeping, emotional, and heart wrenching.

The family saga is told in bold, rich details, so vivid I felt like I was there taking in all the sights and sounds of Cuba. The atmosphere is heavy with foreboding and tension, danger always lurking in the shadows. Love, at times, chooses the most inopportune moments to invade one’s heart, but also has a knack for knowing just the right time and place, knowing somehow, someway that it’s now or never. Both scenarios come with hard choices and consequences.

The book is also very informative, giving readers an up close and personal look at what life is really like in Cuba. While I did find all of this very interesting, at times the ‘lectures’ or history lessons slowed the momentum of the story, but I still think readers need to absorb at least some of this information because this knowledge contributes to the high level of anguish and suspense that builds as the novel reaches its climax.

“The world as we know it has died, and I do not recognize the one that has taken its place”

This history also serves as a cautionary tale in many ways, but it is also very complicated, with people making choices they believed were the right ones to make at the time, while others clung to the way of life they had established, suddenly finding themselves in exile.

“You never know what’s to come. That’s the beauty of life. If everything happened the way we wished, the way we planned, we’d miss out on the best parts, the unexpected pleasure.”

Naturally, for me,  the love stories- plural- is what brought out the strongest emotions in me. Their stories parallel one another in many ways, with one being tragic and the other filled with danger- but also one filled with hope for a better outcome and maybe even a better way of life for those living in Cuba.

GET YOUR COPY HERE:

 https://www.amazon.com/Next-Year-Havana-Chanel-Cleeton-ebook/dp/B072BLV8Y9/

 https://www.barbesandnoble.com/w/next-year-in-havana-chanel-cleeton/1126354169






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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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