Book review by Dinh.
The cover of Next Year In Havana by Chanel Cleeton is just beautiful! Who wouldn’t want to read a book with such an enticing book cover?
I read some great reviews on Next Year In Havana and was excited to see if it lived up to its hype.
Although I enjoyed the book – it was good but not great – I thought that it was a fluffy romance with an interesting setting. (Cuba.)
I liked that the novel follows the lives of of two women almost six decades apart – Elisa and Marisol.
- Elisa grew up in Batista‘s Cuba and lived among the wealthy and privileged until the Cuban Revolution and Fidel Castro assumed power. During this time, Elisa falls in love with Pablo, a revolutionary.
Fearing for their lives, Elisa and her family go into exile to the United States.
- American born Marisol is Elisa’s granddaughter and goes to Cuba to honor her grandmother’s final wish of her ashes being scatter on Cuban soil. In Havana, she falls in love with Luis.
I love the setting of this book! I have not read any books based in Cuba and it was interesting to learn about the history, culture and politics of the country. It encouraged me to further read up on Cuba.
Cleeton style is light, with the pace of the book being even keel, making it like a beach read.
I enjoyed the dual time line – bouncing between Elisa’s and Marisol’s story line, although I did prefer Elisa’s story more.
Cleeton does a great job in bringing to the forefront the themes of identity and what it means to be in exile. Elisa’s love of Cuba does not diminish but she moves on and pass down her heritage to Marisol.
Although I enjoyed the romance and the love stories, I felt that the parallels between the two main characters were too similar. It got a bit repetitive.
- Elisa Perez is a daughter of a sugar baron and lives a shelter life among the wealthy. At nineteen, she does not have any ambitions and follows her parents wishes. She is very loyal to her family until she meets Pablo.
- Marisol Ferrera is a Cuban American freelance writer and Elisa’s granddaughter. Marisol was very close to Elisa and wanted to witness the beauty of Cuba for real not just in the stories and tradition told by Elisa.
I like that the book went full circle with the Perez family leaving Cuba and wondering when they will return.
“How long will we be gone? A year? Two? Ojalá “
I loved the last word, ojalá, in the book. I had to google it to see what it means. Translated from Spanish to English it means hopefully. That’s what Elisa was thinking when she looked across the ocean from Key West, Florida to Cuba. Hopefully, she will go home one day.
My Final Thoughts
I enjoyed Next Year In Havana by Chanel Cleeton. It was a light easy read with an interesting setting. This historical romance is perfect for someone who is interested in reading about different cultures.
Belong to a book club? Check out Next Year in Havana book club discussion questions!