Blog Tour Review: NEXT YEAR IN HAVANA by Chanel Cleeton

Janelle Advance Copy, Berkley Publishing, BLOG TOUR, Book Reviews, From Publisher, Historical Fiction, NetGalley Leave a Comment

My Review: 
Thank you so much to Berkley Publishing for providing my free copy – all opinions are my own.
“Her stories smelled of gardenias and jasmine, tasted of plantains and mamey, and always sound of her old record player.”
There are many reasons why I love this book but one very important one is Cuba. I have a dream to travel to many countries and I love when authors take you to a place you’ve never been. Cleeton’s vivid descriptions of the scenery and culture of Cuba are breathtaking. Also, I should mention the intense connection Cleeton has to Cuba as her own grandparents fled after Castro’s revolution. Her background and historical knowledge are very apparent in the book and make you appreciate the story even more.
“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 pleasures.”
This is a love story from Marisol to her grandmother, Elisa, and the discovery of the fascinating life she lived. Elisa left Cuba in 1959 with her family when she was nineteen. The story starts off with Marisol fulfilling her grandmother’s wish to spread her ashes in Cuba after she passes away. The chapters alternate between Elisa in 1959 and Marisol in 2017. It is very interesting to learn about Elisa’s life from both perspectives, and from different times. The writing is beautiful and flows at a pace that made me forget what was going on around me.
At the brink of the revolution, Elisa meets and falls in love with a revolutionary and has to keep her relationship a secret. Chapter by chapter, details of Elisa’s life unfold, not only from her perspective but from Marisol’s eyes as well. I enjoyed both perspectives equally as they each offer something unique and I especially cherished seeing Cuba through Marisol as she puts together the pieces of her grandmother’s past.
“The earth will guard my secrets, preserve this piece of Havana for me, my memories– For when we return.”
This story is captivating, interesting, mysterious, romantic, and the imagery is just beautiful! I really appreciate this book shining a spotlight on Cuba, its politics, and its people. Highly recommended!
I rate this gorgeous book 4.5 / 5 stars!

Book Summary:

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.

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Praise for Next Year in Havana:

Chanel Cleeton’s Next Year In Havana is a flat-out stunner of a book, at once a dual-timeline mystery, a passionate romance, and paean to the tragedy and beauty of war-torn Cuba. The story of sugar heiress Elisa, watching Cuba fall into revolution as Castro rises, is intertwined with the modern-day tale of Elisa’s granddaughter Marisol as she returns to Cuba after Castro’s death. Both women fall for fire-brand revolutionaries, but Cuba itself emerges as their true love-interest, threatening to break both women’s hearts as Elisa and Marisol each grapple in their own way with what it is to be Cuban, what it is to be an exile, and how to love and live in a homeland riven by revolution. Simply wonderful!

– Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Alice Network

Cleeton has penned an atmospheric, politically insightful, and highly hopeful homage to a lost world. Devour NEXT YEAR IN HAVANA and you, too, will smell the perfumed groves, taste the ropa vieja, and feel the sun on your face. Just a wonderful and educational book!

– Stephanie Dray, New York Times bestselling author of America’s First Daughter

A vivid, transporting novel. Next Year in Havana is about journeys– into exile, into history, and into questions of home and identity. It’s an engrossing read.

– David Ebershoff, author of The Danish Girl and The 19th Wife

An evocative, passionate story of family loyalty and forbidden love that moves seamlessly between the past and present of Cuba’s turbulent history— how one young woman’s sacrifice becomes the key to her granddaughter’s future—how culture and spirit survive against all odds. Next Year in Havana kept me enthralled and savoring every word.

– Shelley NobleNew York Times bestselling author of Whisper Beach

In Next Year in Havana, Chanel Cleeton’s prose is as beautiful as Cuba itself, and the story she weaves–of exile and loss, memory and myth, forbidden love and enduring friendship–is at once sweeping and beautifully intimate. This is a moving, heartfelt, and gorgeously realized story that will stay with you long after you turn the final page.

Jennifer RobsonUSA Today bestselling author of Somewhere in France

Author Information:

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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