Next Year in Havana
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.

Next Year in Havana Details

TitleNext Year in Havana
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseFeb 6th, 2018
PublisherPenguin/Berkley
ISBN-139780399586682
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Romance, Audiobook

Next Year in Havana Review

  • Miranda Reads
    January 1, 1970
    "I promised I would never see you again.""So this is good-bye, then?""No." Elisa Perez, daughter of a sugar baron in Cuba, had a vastly different life from her granddaughter, Marisol Ferrera.Elisa's world is of wealth, and intrigue. Tabloid newspapers and quiet, refined lives. She knows what to expect in her life - courtship, marriage and then children (undoubtedly, in that order). We are useless birds in a gilded cage... But soon, the Cuban rebellion against Batista impacts even her quiet, "I promised I would never see you again.""So this is good-bye, then?""No." Elisa Perez, daughter of a sugar baron in Cuba, had a vastly different life from her granddaughter, Marisol Ferrera.Elisa's world is of wealth, and intrigue. Tabloid newspapers and quiet, refined lives. She knows what to expect in her life - courtship, marriage and then children (undoubtedly, in that order). We are useless birds in a gilded cage... But soon, the Cuban rebellion against Batista impacts even her quiet, sheltered life - in the form of one, unforgettable revolutionary. Pablo leans into me...My heartbeat thrums, equal parts nerves and anticipation running through my veins Many years later, Marisol is tasked with returning to Cuba to scatter her grandmother (Elisa)'s ashes.Marisol spent her childhood in her grandmother's care and thus was raised on Cuban stories, food and culture. But hearing about Cuba and actually visiting it are two very different things.Despite her worry and misgivings, Marisol decides to take the plunge and visit the world that had only existed in her imagination. It's funny how that little step can change everything... And, much like her grandmother, Marisol finds love in an unexpected and rebellious place. "I am not afraid to die for what I believe in.""Maybe not, but what does your death accomplish?" Oh. My. Gosh. This one just swept me off my feet. I read this one for the Reese Witherspoon Book Club - and all I can say is, wow. She sure knows how to pick them!I was absolutely enthralled with the way the author wove together the two narratives - the back-and-forth between Elisa and Marisol was just perfect!In addition, the author brought Cuba to life using both the perspective of Elisa (who lived there all her life) and Marisol (who was discovering the magic all along). Thus leaving me with a desperate need to visit it myself.Now, the book was a bit slow in the beginning but don't let that dissuade you. It really picks up towards the middle - and that ending was on fire. I just couldn't put it down!Excuse me, I need to check out everything this author has ever written!with thanks to Berkley Publishing for a free copy in exchange for an honest reviewBlog | Instagram | Twitter
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  • Angela M
    January 1, 1970
    I always enjoy knowing an author’s inspiration for a story. In the acknowledgments, which introduce the book, Chanel Cleeeton call this “the book of my heart” and thanks her family for sharing their stories. It wasn’t until I heard her in an interview relating a story that her father told her about how people would put their valuables in boxes and bury the box before they left Cuba, that I knew the specific thing. This seemed to reflect a hope that they would someday return. A box buried by a yo I always enjoy knowing an author’s inspiration for a story. In the acknowledgments, which introduce the book, Chanel Cleeeton call this “the book of my heart” and thanks her family for sharing their stories. It wasn’t until I heard her in an interview relating a story that her father told her about how people would put their valuables in boxes and bury the box before they left Cuba, that I knew the specific thing. This seemed to reflect a hope that they would someday return. A box buried by a young girl as she and her family flee Cuba in 1958 is a meaningful part of this novel. I loved knowing that this was the spark that started this story and that she is connected to the narrative because her family did indeed flee Cuba after the revolution. In Havana, in the late 1950s we meet Elisa from an affluent family, sugar barons as they are leaving Cuba. This narrative alternates with her granddaughter Marisol’s in 2017 as she goes to Cuba to spread her grandmother’s ashes. The past story is a love story where the political history of Cuba in the late 1950s is played out. I have to admit how little I really knew about this complicated history from the not too distant past. That made it all the more interesting to me.On one level you could read this as a love story and then there is another love story in the present day (which is not as believable as the earlier one ) or you could see the history and the politics, the Cuba of the past and present through these relationships. A story of family ties, love, and friendship woven into the politics and history of pre-revolutionary Cuba connecting it to the present day. Loyalty, love of country , the dangerous business of beliefs contrary to those in power told with the natural beauty of the island as the backdrop and the ambiance of Havana. I felt confident of the details of the politics given that the author has academic degrees in international politics. I thoroughly enjoyed this even with an ending that was a little too pat. It was well written and appealed to me from the beginning to the end. I received an advanced copy of this book from Berkeley through NetGalley.
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  • Melanie
    January 1, 1970
    ARC provided by Berkley in exchange for an honest review. “We carry our home with us in our hearts, laden with hope. So much hope.” Next Year in Havana is such an amazing book that had me crying all the happy tears, all the sad tears, and all the in-between tears. I feel like this ownvoices book, that Chanel Cleeton crafted, took a piece of my heart, and I’m fine living without it, because this book was such a work of art, inside and out. And this beautiful story is told in two different timel ARC provided by Berkley in exchange for an honest review. “We carry our home with us in our hearts, laden with hope. So much hope.” Next Year in Havana is such an amazing book that had me crying all the happy tears, all the sad tears, and all the in-between tears. I feel like this ownvoices book, that Chanel Cleeton crafted, took a piece of my heart, and I’m fine living without it, because this book was such a work of art, inside and out. And this beautiful story is told in two different timelines from two different women.➽ Elisa - Who is living in 1958 Havana, which is constantly unsafe. Elisa has lived a more privileged life than most, because her family is wealthy, and her father works under the current president, Batista. But the people aren’t happy, and Fidel Castro and his revolutionary followers are on the rise. No one is safe, and Elisa realizes very quickly that her heart isn’t safe either. ➽ Marisol - Who is living in 2017 Miami, but currently taking a trip to Havana to lay Elisa’s ashes to rest, in the city that always had her heart. Even after being forced to leave so many years ago. Marisol sees first hand that impact that Fidel Castro has left on Cuba when her grandmother and her family were forced to flee. “Love feels like a luxury in a world where so many struggle for the basic things I take for granted.” And each timeline follows a different heart-wrenching and heart-mending romance. And these two stories interweave together to create something more beautiful than I have words for. I was so addicted, and I couldn’t stop turning the pages. This book is also so atmospheric. I felt like I was alongside both of these girls in Cuba. And I could feel the sad, heartbreaking reality of what Cuba was like in 1950, and what it is still like in almost 2020. I was born and raised in the United States, and it just made me even more aware of my privilege. It also made me side-eye my country a bit more than usual, too. “The Americans preach liberty, and freedom, and democracy at home, and practice tyranny throughout the rest of the world.” And one of my favorite aspects of this book was Marisol bringing up her thoughts and feelings about being biracial and feeling equal parts like an outsider and like at home while she is in Cuba. I’m a lot more white passing than Marisol, but the things she deals with and feels when she travels to Cuba, is something so real and something so very close to my Filipina heart. “My grandparents are Cuban, my father Cuban, therefore I am Cuban. But will it matter here that my skin is lighter than many of the country’s citizens, that my blood is not fully Cuban? Am I an outsider here or is the ancestry I claim enough?” I also loved how this book celebrates all the different types of love we will have during our lifetime. Love that we will never forget. Love from second chances at love that will make us feel whole again. Love between friends who will never forget us. Love between people who are family, no matter the blood that runs through our veins. Love for a country that never loved back. Okay, so this book was amazing, but I did have two minor things that were the reason I didn’t give this five stars. The first being, it was very predictable to me. I mean, that didn’t stop all the tears from coming, but I knew where this was going as soon as Elisa snuck out with her sisters. The next being Elisa’s father/Marisol’s grandpa. Like, damn, I understand why, but what a dick. And I personally always really dislike the “miscommunication” trope, even though I loved this book with my whole heart. “When you love something you don’t count the cost.” And overall, I recommend this book to any and every book lover. And I think this was such a wonderful pick for Reese’s book club! And I cannot wait to see where Chanel Cleeton takes Beatriz’s story in When We Left Cuba in 2019! Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Youtube | Twitch Trigger and content warnings for loss of a loved one, abandonment, and war themes. Also, off-screen captivity, torture, and murder. The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.If you would have told little kid bookworm Melanie that Berkley would one day send her a book because it’s July’s pick for Reese Witherspoon’s future book club, she would not have believed you. (And probably ran, because I was a paranoid kid and I would have thought you were a kidnapper, but still!) 💕
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  • Liz
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 stars, rounded up.As a voracious reader and reviewer, I’m in favor of anything that promotes books and creates more interest in them. So, I view the proliferation of celebrity book clubs as a good thing. This is Reese Witherspoon’s July BOMC selection. And it’s a very worthy one. The book starts with the Perez family leaving Cuba after the success of the revolution. It quickly switches to Marisol Ferrera returning to Cuba 58 years later with her grandmother’s ashes. Cleeton paints that pictu 4.5 stars, rounded up.As a voracious reader and reviewer, I’m in favor of anything that promotes books and creates more interest in them. So, I view the proliferation of celebrity book clubs as a good thing. This is Reese Witherspoon’s July BOMC selection. And it’s a very worthy one. The book starts with the Perez family leaving Cuba after the success of the revolution. It quickly switches to Marisol Ferrera returning to Cuba 58 years later with her grandmother’s ashes. Cleeton paints that picture of Cuba quickly and impressively. Things we take for granted, everything from seat belts to fancy pots and pans, are missing, everything is in some state of disrepair.The story alternates between the grandmother Elisa’s last year in Cuba as a nineteen year old and Marisol’s return. The book gives us a background of what it was like in that last year of Batista being in power. “Very few can afford the luxury of being political in Cuba.” “And no one can afford the luxury of not being political in Cuba.” And, of course, it also shows you, through Marisol’s eyes, how poorly that revolution turned out and how the people are still being oppressed. I loved the contrast between the vision of the Cubans that left, living with memories, and those that stayed, living with facts. “Even though we share the same heritage, as hard as I search for commonalities between us, as much as I want to belong here, the differences are glaring. I am Cuban and yet, I am not.”I could have done without the modern romance. It seemed unnecessary to me. But I loved how much Havana and Cuba was a love interest for all concerned. “Havana is a beautiful city shrouded in sadness, yet the remarkable thing is that it’s almost as if the people didn’t get the memo. They laugh, and there’s a jubilant quality to the air… The Cubans probably have the least to laugh about compared to everyone around them, but they laugh the loudest.”I knew of the Revolution, but what I didn’t know was the horrors that occurred after Castro came to power. It gave me a new insight into why the Cubans in the US are so bitter. Not just the loss of property, but the high loss of life. “We are Rome and this is the Coliseum.”What’s interesting is that this book can be read as much more than a romantic story or historical fiction. It delves into the need to stand up to injustice. Of not turning a blind eye to corruption if it doesn’t immediately affect you. The danger of being silent and creating deals with the devil. My thanks to Berkeley Publishing that provided me with a copy of this novel.
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  • Julie
    January 1, 1970
    Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton is a 2018 Penguin/Berkley publication. Cuba- 1958Elisa 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, cont Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton is a 2018 Penguin/Berkley publication. Cuba- 1958Elisa 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. 4 stars
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  • Warda
    January 1, 1970
    "The Americans preach liberty, and freedom , and democracy at home, and practice tyranny throughout the rest of the world." Goodness, this book took my breath away.I do not think I have the ability to express how much I loved it, and the impact the story had on me. There’s so much to it, so much heart, soul and passion that leaped off those words and I was swept away at every moment. I had no idea what to expect going into it, but it has become one of my favourite stories. It was so enlightenin "The Americans preach liberty, and freedom , and democracy at home, and practice tyranny throughout the rest of the world." Goodness, this book took my breath away.I do not think I have the ability to express how much I loved it, and the impact the story had on me. There’s so much to it, so much heart, soul and passion that leaped off those words and I was swept away at every moment. I had no idea what to expect going into it, but it has become one of my favourite stories. It was so enlightening and eye-opening to read!I loved getting to know the characters and how the political situation in Cuba formed not only the characters and their families, but the citizens in Cuba itself. The historical aspect was beyond fascinating and Chanel Cleeton did a pretty perfect job at keeping my attention, because politics can be complex and hard to grasp. But the political commentaries were told with so much ease and understanding and not only one narrative was pushed. Every angle was looked at and I couldn’t stop thinking. My brain was going haywire and I loved it. I loved getting to know what the country was going through during such a tumultuous time in their period and seeing how that shaped the people. I was truly experiencing Cuba. Now I want to read everything Chanel Cleeton writes! And read more on Latin America!—————————————-Ever since The Nightingale, I've been wanting to read more historical fiction novels. Buddy-reading with Sophie! 😃
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  • Jen
    January 1, 1970
    I’m a sucker for Cuba. It’s a destination of choice for a number of reasons including its history, its traditions, the people and of course, its coffee.This story takes us through 2 story lines: 1959 and decades later to 2017. With 2 love stories.After Marisol’s grandmother passes, she has been left the daunting task of scattering her ashes over her home country, Cuba. We read her story through love letters left behind.We are taken through the historical revolution and what it meant as a citizen I’m a sucker for Cuba. It’s a destination of choice for a number of reasons including its history, its traditions, the people and of course, its coffee.This story takes us through 2 story lines: 1959 and decades later to 2017. With 2 love stories.After Marisol’s grandmother passes, she has been left the daunting task of scattering her ashes over her home country, Cuba. We read her story through love letters left behind.We are taken through the historical revolution and what it meant as a citizen to fight for Equality; never mind democracy. The moral dilemmas faced as a nation torn by radical leaders. And of the Cubans whom were forced into exile with only their personal belongings on their backs having to leave their homeland; and those who stayed with the hopes of change that never came to fruition.Great history; fantastic writing. 4⭐️
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  • Georgia Howard
    January 1, 1970
    For me, the worst kinds of books are those that disappoint.Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton promised an intriguing glimpse into the mystery of Havana, that forbidden place that’s been sequestered by corrupt government and untouched by big brand corporate America, indeed isolated in what would seem to be an alternate time. Cleeton endeavors to juxtapose the social and political tensions during the Batista era and the 1959 revolution with the everyday struggles facing present-day Cubans. She For me, the worst kinds of books are those that disappoint.Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton promised an intriguing glimpse into the mystery of Havana, that forbidden place that’s been sequestered by corrupt government and untouched by big brand corporate America, indeed isolated in what would seem to be an alternate time. Cleeton endeavors to juxtapose the social and political tensions during the Batista era and the 1959 revolution with the everyday struggles facing present-day Cubans. She positions her main character, Marisol in such a way as to hold up a mirror to Americans and Cuban-Americans alike to show our privilege in living here, as well as our impact on Cuban life. Marisol is a Cuban-American writer whose wealthy family escaped to Miami just after the rise of Fidel. Upon the death of her grandmother, Elisa, Marisol is charged with smuggling her ashes back into Cuba, as her dying wish is to be scattered in the land she loved.The story unfolds in an alternating narrative between Elisa’s young adulthood in 1959 Cuba, and Marisol’s first visit to the land of her childhood fantasies. Elisa and her sisters are considered the ‘sugarcane princesses’ due to their family’s wealth in the sugar industry, and their days are filled with parties, shopping, and fancy dinners. There are no surprises in this novel, except to Marisol, who did not expect to uncover a secret love affair between Elisa and a revolutionary named Pablo. Unsurprisingly, Cleeton attempts to draw parallel plots, thus Marisol also falls in love with a revolutionary – Luis.Unfortunately, the fragments of good writing are so sparse, so few and far between, that this work hardly has legs to stand on. Using the present tense may have been the wrong choice for a debut author who hasn’t yet figured out how to engage her readers with captivating descriptions that merge atmosphere, action, and dialog. To entice her audience and hold our attentions, Cleeton needed to approach her characters’ worlds with a wider view, which a past tense narration could have achieved. Both Luis and Pablo are characters created for the sole purpose of relaying Cuba’s history, the former being a history professor and the latter a lawyer. Ultimately, this device led to pages upon pages of pedantic, repetitive dialog stalling the action, and leading Cleeton to fall into that show don’t tell writing trap. Thus, Cleeton struggles to bring tension into her narrative, and instead the moments that should be stifled with urgency fall flat, such as when Elisa and her family flee Cuba or when Luis is captured and tortured by the government. In short, Cleeton shouldn’t have to tell us that Marisol is “filled with excitement,” but rather Marisol’s feelings should be evident by the words she chooses to describe her environment, and by the specific things she notices, thinks, and speaks.In both plot and dialog, Next Year in Havana is riddled with clichés and awkward sentences. Cleeton’s descriptive limitations are apparent from page one, where she describes Beatriz, Elisa’s sister and Cleeton’s most overdone character: “it’s as though the entire airport holds its collective breath. She’s the beauty in the family and she knows it.” Even as Marisol comments on her anticipation of the journey that lies ahead, Cleeton describes it as “venturing into murky waters and uncharted territory,” a description we’ve all read before. She focuses so much on the mundane, feeling the need to account for every detail including the X-ray machines at the airport and Marisol pulling her sunglasses out of her purse, all while glossing over and merely summarizing the most interesting parts of the story. For instance, what was Marisol’s reaction to her grandmother’s last request? As readers, we want to see this unfold step-by-step and feel the character’s emotions with her.There are particular moments where you can tell Cleeton is a debut author by her inability to streamline her thoughts: “His initials are embroidered on the corner of the handkerchief [. . .] and I have no doubt his grandmother painstakingly embroidered his initials.” Then there are those moments when you can tell Cleeton has used a thesaurus to vary her word choice, for instance, using ‘novel’ instead of ‘new’: “I have the novel experience of seeing true shock on my father’s face.” She also draws a poorly-planned metaphor between Luis’ family home and animal experimentation as Marisol remarks, “The contrast between the vivisected home he shares with his wife, mother, and grandmother, and the tourists’ domain is stark.” Cleeton also tries a little too hard to incorporate the classics: “If helplessness is my Scylla, then the solution is most definitely Charybdis.” Some character’s thoughts are even written to remind readers that we are reading, rather than letting us fully immerse ourselves in the characters’ thoughts by actually using ellipses: “that sounds . . . Romantic.” Further, the sole purpose of the last chapter, which feels out of place and completely inappropriate, is to introduce Cleeton’s second novel, which sounds doubly melodramatic.All in all, as a writer Cleeton should have been able to entice us with Elisa’s seemingly magical life and make us sympathize with her innocence and vulnerability – she’s trapped in a world that she doesn’t necessarily agree with, but still guiltily enjoys it. We don’t feel that as readers though, it’s really difficult to sympathize with her and we don’t really understand why Pablo loves her other than the fact that she’s beautiful. Similarly, we don’t know why Luis takes a fancy with Marisol, he is appalled when learning she thought he was still married when he held her hand, so would he really fall in love with someone willing to advance on a married man? We should have been allowed to feel Marisol’s complex emotions, the pain mixed with wonder, lift up off the page simultaneously. We should have been let into Marisol’s true feelings about meeting her biological grandfather, whom she feels comfortable naming as such from the moment she sees him.It’s clear the publisher intended to capitalize on Cuba as a trend and rushed the publication of Cleeton’s work, and though this historical drama is intended to appeal to a commercial audience, being commercial and well written are not mutually exclusive outcomes. We need look no further than Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale for proof of that. Next Year in Havana had great potential to be a beautiful debut, but, instead, it remains a mere draft and leaves its readers unsatisfied.
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  • Carol (Bookaria)
    January 1, 1970
    A familiar yet unique story, deeply evocative, and mesmerizing. I devoured this book and enjoyed every sentence.The story is told in my favorite form of narration, alternating points of view and timelines. The novel begins in the days when the Cuban revolution started and travels to the present times when Marisol visits Cuba to scatter her grandmother’s ashes on the beloved land she left behind many years ago. “We are silk and lace, and beneath them we are steel.” The author did a great job at A familiar yet unique story, deeply evocative, and mesmerizing. I devoured this book and enjoyed every sentence.The story is told in my favorite form of narration, alternating points of view and timelines. The novel begins in the days when the Cuban revolution started and travels to the present times when Marisol visits Cuba to scatter her grandmother’s ashes on the beloved land she left behind many years ago. “We are silk and lace, and beneath them we are steel.” The author did a great job at describing Cuba, the Cuba of “then” and the Cuba of “now”, its places, the land, I felt I was there with the characters and emotionally connected to the story from the beginning.I hope this is the first in a series because there are many secondary characters with interesting backstories that I want to get to know, specially, Beatriz’ story.Overall, this was an amazing book. I highly recommend it.
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  • Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)
    January 1, 1970
    This was such an enthralling read. It was really well written and also extremely eye opening???? I learned SO MANY THINGS about Cuba that I had no idea about before and it definitely makes me want to research and learn more. Also: v steamy romances!
  • Patty ~ Wrapped Up In Reading Book Blog
    January 1, 1970
    *****FOUR STARS*****{ARC Generously Provided by Author}In one step, I know power, the drugging effect of it coursing through my veins. With one step I am removed from the fringes and thrust in the middle of my life. In that space of the step, my world shifts. Everything is different now, and nothing will ever be the same again.NEXT YEAR IN HAVANA is beautifully written and at times excessive in the detailed description of the surroundings and landscape of Cuba and its inhabitants. It did enable *****FOUR STARS*****{ARC Generously Provided by Author}In one step, I know power, the drugging effect of it coursing through my veins. With one step I am removed from the fringes and thrust in the middle of my life. In that space of the step, my world shifts. Everything is different now, and nothing will ever be the same again.NEXT YEAR IN HAVANA is beautifully written and at times excessive in the detailed description of the surroundings and landscape of Cuba and its inhabitants. It did enable me to picture a Country I will never get to see in my lifetime and in that aspect, I did appreciate the descriptive narrative. This read more like a history book than a romance. While there are two sets of couples, they seemed to play a secondary role to that of the main characters which were Cuba and its history of unrest and rebellion.The story switches from past to present. The past being 1958-59 Havana, where Elisa Perez lives with her parents and sisters. In the present, Elisa’s granddaughter, Marisol Ferrera, is on a journey from Miami to Cuba where she has been assigned the task to spread her grandmother’s ashes. Although having been exiled from Cuba for nearly sixty years, Elisa always yearned for a chance to someday return to the Country she called ”home”. When she was nineteen she fled Cuba with her family after Fidel Castro came into power. Her family was one of the wealthiest and powerful in Havana and a prime target for Castro.Marisol was very close to her grandmother and her death affected Marisol deeply. She knows that it still isn’t safe for her to be going to Cuba but is determined to fulfill her grandmother’s dying wish. She’s also excited to be going to the place that her grandmother spent so many nights telling stories about. Marisol embraces her heritage. When she meets Ana Rodriguez, Elisa’s childhood best friend, Marisol is given a box that Elisa left behind. What she discovers inside is a secret that Elisa took with her to her grave and Marisol questions whether she ever truly knew her grandmother. Marisol sets off on a mission to uncover her grandmother’s secret past and along the way finds her own romance with Luis, a history professor at the University of Cuba and also Ana’s grandson.During flashbacks, we learn how Elisa meets her one true love and how a happily ever after for them is nearly impossible. When we are back in the present we see that history is repeating itself with Marisol and Luis.Will Marisol have the HEA that her grandmother was unable to attain?Here are my overall ratings on the book: Heroes: 4 Heroines: 4 Plot: 4 Angst: 3 Steam: 2 Chemistry Between Hero & Heroine: 3NEXT YEAR IN HAVANA releases tomorrow.Book Links: Amazon: http://amzn.to/2pdQBKF Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2pYsJJYiBooks: http://apple.co/2pvYffqIndieBound: http://bit.ly/2zrt11mKobo: http://bit.ly/2wPZPMU
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  • Diane S ☔
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 There are so many fantastic elements to this novel. The book opens with the Perez family fleeing Cuba after the revolution. This is the first thread of the story. The second is Elise Perez's granddaughter Marisol, traveling to Cuba, sixty years later to scatter her ashes in the country she had loved. The history of Cuba, Batista, Che and Castro are told in bold, detailed fashion using the Perez family to add a human element and interest to the story. This story would be my favorite part of t 3.5 There are so many fantastic elements to this novel. The book opens with the Perez family fleeing Cuba after the revolution. This is the first thread of the story. The second is Elise Perez's granddaughter Marisol, traveling to Cuba, sixty years later to scatter her ashes in the country she had loved. The history of Cuba, Batista, Che and Castro are told in bold, detailed fashion using the Perez family to add a human element and interest to the story. This story would be my favorite part of the book, a look back at what happened to the Perez family, and a revolution that promised much be delivered little. Said to have ended Batista's cruelty, in effect, in one quote by the author, it just replaced one dictator with another.Marisol would find love in Havana but also many other things she didn't know she was looking for. Again the descriptions of Havana we're done well, but that in one week two people would fall in love, was a bit unbelievable. I enjoyed the characters, the different looks at the people who fled Cuba, and those who stayed. There are a few surprises along the way, in this very readable book. Things may be more open in Cuba but as the book shows the danger for some is far from over. Very well written, the history, thankfully for me but maybe all readers will not feel the same, overshadowed the love story. The ending poignant, heartfelt but a little to pat. All in all z good read about a country of which I am still learning.ARC from Netgalley.
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  • Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
    January 1, 1970
    $1.99 Kindle sale, July 17, 2019. This is a moving dual timeline historical novel set in Cuba, both in modern times and during the 1958-59 period of Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution, with a couple of romantic subplots to spice things up. Havana, Cuba (the author specifically mentions how many old cars and vehicles are still on the streets - most Cubans can't replace them with newer cars so they take loving care of them)El MalecónCuba's past is seen through the eyes of Elisa in 1958-59, a yo $1.99 Kindle sale, July 17, 2019. This is a moving dual timeline historical novel set in Cuba, both in modern times and during the 1958-59 period of Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution, with a couple of romantic subplots to spice things up. Havana, Cuba (the author specifically mentions how many old cars and vehicles are still on the streets - most Cubans can't replace them with newer cars so they take loving care of them)El MalecónCuba's past is seen through the eyes of Elisa in 1958-59, a young woman from a wealthy upper class family who starts a secret romance with a revolutionary who fights against the corrupt regime of Fulgencio Batista, alongside Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. In the modern timeline, we have Elisa's Cuban-American granddaughter Marisol, a journalist of "light" topics who hugely misses her recently deceased grandmother.The story begins with Elisa and her family leaving Cuba after Castro has taken control, then jumps back about a year to show how things got to that point. Her chapters alternate with Marisol's, who takes a first-time trip to Cuba to scatter her grandmother Elisa’s ashes in the country she grew up in and loved, the place she always longed to return to. Marisol stays with the family of Ana, her grandmother’s best friend, unearths long-hidden secrets, and finds her own romance that is fraught with difficulties due to the political turmoil.Next Year in Havana is well-written and VERY well researched, thought not quite as engaging for me as I’d hoped. I think that's because the story is told through the viewpoints of two women who are on the periphery of the action. That, together with the focus on their romances, gives this book somewhat less heft than I expected. Still, it's a great way to absorb some of the history of the Cuban Revolution, along with a deeply felt and sometimes heart-wrenching story about love: both romantic love and love for one's country.I also thought Chanel Cleeton, a Cuban American author, did an excellent job of showing the problems, shortcomings, hopes and desires of all of the different factions that play a role in the story. While she's coming, very understandably, from an anti-Castro position, she shows the injustice of the Batista government and the idealistic desires that many of the revolutionaries had. She also acknowledges the limitations in viewpoint of the Cubans who immigrated to America, a nuance that impressed me. Havana slumNext Year in Havana is a 2018 “Reese’s Book Club” selection. Many thanks to Berkley Publishing for the review copy!Content notes: some sexual content (view spoiler)[including an out-of-wedlock pregnancy (hide spoiler)] but nothing at all explicit. Limited violence, also not graphic.
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  • Lucy Langford
    January 1, 1970
    4.5****"Next year in Havana- It's the toast we never stop saying, because the dream of it never comes true."This book had a dual time line; one in 1958 featuring Elisa, the daughter of an important sugar baron. She is part of Cuba's high society largely sheltered from the country's political unrest with the expectation to marry another man within her social class. When she meets a revolutionary one night she embarks on a forbidden passion which opens her mind and leads to discussions of the revo 4.5****"Next year in Havana- It's the toast we never stop saying, because the dream of it never comes true."This book had a dual time line; one in 1958 featuring Elisa, the daughter of an important sugar baron. She is part of Cuba's high society largely sheltered from the country's political unrest with the expectation to marry another man within her social class. When she meets a revolutionary one night she embarks on a forbidden passion which opens her mind and leads to discussions of the revolution.Switching to Miami, 207, Marisol is a freelance writer who is grieving the loss of her late grandmother, Elisa. Marisol has been told romantic stories from her grandmother of what Cuba was like, before Elisa and her family had to flee from the revolution. As a dying wish, Elisa put in her will that she wished Marisol to spread her ashes in Cuba. Arriving in Havana, Marisol is taken aback by the beauty and romantics of Cuba... but also, is brought to attention the dire straits in which its people live in due to its dangerous political and social climate. Marisol discovers more about her grandmother and family secrets whilst also embarking on her own love affair who has his own secrets.During the process of reading this book I was completely captured by the beauty of Havana. This book was deeply atmospheric that it was not hard to imagine all the bright colours, smells of food, and inescapable heat. I was also fascinated to learn of a country I know nothing about and its rising political tensions and abhorrent behaviour from those 'in charge'. This gave a comprehensive account of the revolution and the effects this has had on the Cuban people, leaving a deep sadness but also hope for persistence for change. I found the female character's in this were so courageous and resilient, this includes both minor and major character's and were completely multi-faceted. I especially enjoyed the courageous and head strong Beatriz Perez and cannot wait for the next book featuring this interesting character. I found this book difficult to put down and was an absorbing read. This was also largely different to what I usually read due to its romantic elements, but the climatic descriptions, the strain of a revolution and societal unrest kept me ensnared in the plot.
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  • Berit☀️✨
    January 1, 1970
    An exquisitely told story steeped in history and Rich with love! Chanel Cleeton has expertly woven together threads of the present and the past. This is the story of two strong women, grandmother and granddaughter, bonded by blood and a love for Cuba. A story of love for a boy, for a land, for a family, for a culture. Admittedly I know very little about Cuba and it’s history, and I found the history lesson I got from this book exceptional. Miss Cleeton skillfully brings Cuba to life with her wor An exquisitely told story steeped in history and Rich with love! Chanel Cleeton has expertly woven together threads of the present and the past. This is the story of two strong women, grandmother and granddaughter, bonded by blood and a love for Cuba. A story of love for a boy, for a land, for a family, for a culture. Admittedly I know very little about Cuba and it’s history, and I found the history lesson I got from this book exceptional. Miss Cleeton skillfully brings Cuba to life with her words. The sights, the sounds, the vibe,in both 1958 and present day. Cuba 1958, Elisa lives a privilege life as the daughter of a sugar Barron. She has been pretty sheltered from the political goings-on in Cuba, that is until she falls in love with a revolutionary. The problem is her family is in support of the president, on the other side of the issue. When the president falls and Fidel Castro takes over, Elisa and her family flee to the United States. Present day, Marisol is destroyed when her beloved grandmother who raised her passes away. Her grandmother’s last wish is to have her ashes spread in the country she loved, Cuba. This requires Marisol to travel to Cuba where she finds a land far different from that that her grandmother told her about. She was not expecting the poverty, the food shortages, the lines. Determined to find the perfect location to scatter her grandmothers ashes Marisol discovers her grandmother secrets. She also discovers the real Cuba and a love for a man. This was a wonderful story that captured my attention and my heart. Both Elisa And Marisol were interesting and likable characters. I was slightly more drawn to Elisa’s story simply for the history. Although I like getting to know about present day Cuba as well. I think it just came down to the fact that I enjoyed one of the love stories over the other a little bit. It always comes down to the love! Beautifully told... drenched in history, culture, family, and love! Absolutely recommend!*** many thanks to Berkley for my copy of this book ***
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  • Dem
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 Stars I love books where the protagonist tries to discover the roots of her identity and and this is what drew me to this novel. I enjoyed Chanel Cleeton's Next year in Havana as it took me on a journey to Cuba which a country I have read very little about and by the conclusion of this Historical Fiction Novel I had gained a little historical insight into Cuba and now look forward to reading some more books on Cuba in the near future. "After the death of her beloved Grandmother, a Cuban-Am 3.5 Stars I love books where the protagonist tries to discover the roots of her identity and and this is what drew me to this novel. I enjoyed Chanel Cleeton's Next year in Havana as it took me on a journey to Cuba which a country I have read very little about and by the conclusion of this Historical Fiction Novel I had gained a little historical insight into Cuba and now look forward to reading some more books on Cuba in the near future. "After the death of her beloved Grandmother, a Cuban-American woman travels to Havan where she discovered the roots of her identify and unearths a family secret hidden since the revolution." This is a romance style novel but it does give a little insight into Cuban history and the revolution which is insightful and interesting, enough information to wet my appetite and kept me interested throughout the story. The Novel is set in two time frames and this works quite well. I preferred the historical story. The author explores the themes of family, love, loss and sacrifices and while I enjoyed the book I did find it a little repetitive and quite a bit forced in places and I found the ending a little too contrived. Overall an easy read, nice sense of time and place and a book that many historical fiction readers will enjoy.
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  • Susanne Strong
    January 1, 1970
    4 Stars.Family, Heartache, History, Life, Loss and Love. This is the story of “Next Year in Havana” by Chanel Cleeton. Cuba, 1958: Elisa Perez is a nineteen year old heiress when she meets Pablo, at a dinner party. Their chemistry is immediate and undeniable. It is love at first sight and it is doomed. Pablo is a revolutionary, he stands for everything her family is against and yet neither can walk away from their feelings. When things go awry, Elisa and her family have no choice but to escape t 4 Stars.Family, Heartache, History, Life, Loss and Love. This is the story of “Next Year in Havana” by Chanel Cleeton. Cuba, 1958: Elisa Perez is a nineteen year old heiress when she meets Pablo, at a dinner party. Their chemistry is immediate and undeniable. It is love at first sight and it is doomed. Pablo is a revolutionary, he stands for everything her family is against and yet neither can walk away from their feelings. When things go awry, Elisa and her family have no choice but to escape to Miami, never to return.Miami, 2017: Elisa’s last wish was to have her ashes spread in Havana, by her granddaughter, Marisol. After arriving in Cuba, Marisol meets Elisa’s best friend Ana and Ana’s grandson Luis. There, Marisol learns of Elisa’s past, through letters Elisa wrote to Pablo and Marisol discovers that her grandmother had a life she knew nothing about. Marisol has always identified as Cuban, though she realizes that being a Cuban-American in Havana, she is considered an outsider. Ana and Luis however, treat her like a part of the family and when Luis looks at her, she feels like she is home. He is passionate about his country, his people and justice. To her, he is an enigma, he teaches her about Cuba, life and love. On her journey, Marisol learns as much about her grandmother as she does about herself. In this novel, Chanel Cleeton expertly intertwines a story about family, love and loss with historical fiction. In my opinion, there were several parallels between Elisa and Marisol’s lives. For me, I was able to identify with Elisa’s life, though it takes place in the late 1950’s. I also found her story to be more believable than her granddaughters. “Next Year in Havana” also showcases Cuban history and gave me some insight that I didn’t have previously. Over the years, Cubans fought, trading one dictator for another: Batista, Che & Castro and the revolution continued. In truth, there were no winners. People fled their homeland, never to return. Even now, Cubans do not have the freedom and the luxuries that Americans do. It is a reminder of all of the things that I take for granted every day. Overall, this is an incredibly beautiful story, rich in history, full of life and love. I had a feeling of what this novel would be like going into it, just by looking at the gorgeous cover, and the novel did not disappoint! A huge thank you to Natalie at Berkley Publishing Group and Chanel Cleeton for a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. Published on Goodreads, Amazon and Twitter on 9.9.18.
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  • Katie B
    January 1, 1970
    This book has been on my radar for awhile and I was so excited to finally have the opportunity to read it. I don't normally comment on book covers, but this one is absolutely stunning and whoever designed it deserves some praise. The story that unfolded between the front and back covers was really some compelling historical fiction.So I'll admit I did not know much about the Cuban Revolution prior to reading this book. One reason I love historical fiction is sometimes it gives you the opportunit This book has been on my radar for awhile and I was so excited to finally have the opportunity to read it. I don't normally comment on book covers, but this one is absolutely stunning and whoever designed it deserves some praise. The story that unfolded between the front and back covers was really some compelling historical fiction.So I'll admit I did not know much about the Cuban Revolution prior to reading this book. One reason I love historical fiction is sometimes it gives you the opportunity to learn an important part of history and allows you to connect with characters in a way that might not happen with nonfiction books. In this case it was hard not to immediately be drawn to Marisol, who has arrived in Cuba with the intent to spread her late grandmother Elisa's ashes. The action switches back and forth between the present day and the events of the late 1950s which led to Elisa and her family fleeing their home country. As Marisol learns more about her grandmother's past, she realizes maybe she didn't quite know her as well as she thought she did. I thought the author did a fine job capturing the complex feelings of the characters with regards to the country they loved. I think it is easy to make judgments based on decades later knowing how things played out but through the eyes of certain characters I was better able to understand their beliefs and the choices they made. My only real criticism is sometimes the story and dialogue got bogged down too much by the desire of the author to include as much information as possible about Cuba to the reader. There were a few instances in which I felt the dialogue came across stilted and textbook like rather than a natural conversation. Overall, a fine work of historical fiction and I am really looking forward to the author's next book which will feature the character of Beatriz. To be honest, I hope eventually all of the sisters and brother get their own novel because I think the author has a knack for capturing the voices of not only Cuban refugees but those that remained in the country as well.Thank you to Berkley Publishing Group for sending me a free copy of this book! All views expressed are my honest opinion.
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  • Alana Gale
    January 1, 1970
    Reasons that this book was thoroughly unimpressive:1. "My eyes slam closed." This is the perfect example of why I didn't enjoy the writing style. It was mediocre at best and at worst, well, try slamming your eyes closed (I did, and I just don't buy it).2. Insta-love. Both sets of main characters fall in love after only a couple of descriptions. I wanted to enjoy that love, soak it up, but I didn't feel anything for the characters because it just didn't seem realistic.3. It needed a stronger sens Reasons that this book was thoroughly unimpressive:1. "My eyes slam closed." This is the perfect example of why I didn't enjoy the writing style. It was mediocre at best and at worst, well, try slamming your eyes closed (I did, and I just don't buy it).2. Insta-love. Both sets of main characters fall in love after only a couple of descriptions. I wanted to enjoy that love, soak it up, but I didn't feel anything for the characters because it just didn't seem realistic.3. It needed a stronger sense of place. The narrator just tells and tells and tells without showing us anything, and it didn't make me connect with the setting. Even though the characters say they love Cuba, I want to know why.4. Repetitive. This book could've been shorter. We get it--Cuba is a conflicted place with a conflicted history. The message would've been more effective if it wasn't just constantly parroted by the two main characters, if it was actually demonstrated more in the plot. Overall, this book let me down.
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  • Christy
    January 1, 1970
    I am not a huge fan of historical fiction, but I loved this book. Chanel Cleeton is a new to me author, and I'm so happy I took a chance on this book. It is beautifully written, and I feel like I learned so much while reading it. This story goes back in forth between two characters and two times. Some chapters are in the present, from our heroine Marisol's pov. The others are from the past, 1958 to be exact. They are from Marisol's late Grandmother, Elisa's pov. It's a few months after Elisa's I am not a huge fan of historical fiction, but I loved this book. Chanel Cleeton is a new to me author, and I'm so happy I took a chance on this book. It is beautifully written, and I feel like I learned so much while reading it. This story goes back in forth between two characters and two times. Some chapters are in the present, from our heroine Marisol's pov. The others are from the past, 1958 to be exact. They are from Marisol's late Grandmother, Elisa's pov. It's a few months after Elisa's death and Marisol takes a trip to Elisa's home country of Cuba. Elisa hadn't been there since the late 50's when her family fled. ‘Next Year in Havana. It’s the toast we never stop saying, because the dream of it never comes true.’ Marisol and her grandmother were very close. She thought she knew everything there was to know about her grandmother, but as it turns out, there is so much she didn't know. I loved discovering all these things along with Marisol, and hearing about them through Elisa's voice. While in Cuba, Marisol learns so much about her heritage, her family, and about love. Things take a complicated turn towards the end of the story as she falls for a Cuban man. I can't imagine him in my world, and I certainly don't belong in his. Where does that leave us? This story was written in a way I felt like I was in Cuba experiencing new things, seeing new sights, and tasting the rice and beans. Cleeton has a descriptive way of writing that makes you feel like you're there, where the story takes place. I loved how this story came together at the end, and I thought this was a great read. I recommend to all readers of romance, even if historical isn't really your thing. It's a fantastic story and I'm looking forward to reading more from this author. "It's raucous and beautiful, and more than anything, I want to belong here, want this city to become a part of me."
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  • Sonja
    January 1, 1970
    This book fails on basically every level. A look at past and present Cuba (through almost identical and wholly unbelievable romances) that is devoid of any nuance, complexity, or a true understanding and appreciation for humanity. If you want 1) 'Cuban history for Dummies'; 2) the ‘privileged, naive, clueless light-skinned girl falls for dangerous, poor, revolutionary darker skinned activist’ trope; and 3) right wing politics -- then ok, do you. I found it incredibly and frustratingly facile and This book fails on basically every level. A look at past and present Cuba (through almost identical and wholly unbelievable romances) that is devoid of any nuance, complexity, or a true understanding and appreciation for humanity. If you want 1) 'Cuban history for Dummies'; 2) the ‘privileged, naive, clueless light-skinned girl falls for dangerous, poor, revolutionary darker skinned activist’ trope; and 3) right wing politics -- then ok, do you. I found it incredibly and frustratingly facile and trite. Sample sentences: “I came here to write an article about tourist locales, and now my mind is full of policy and injustice.” Girl, no. And: "Like my grandmother before me, I've fallen in love with a revolutionary." I can't even.If the above are not your thing - you’re welcome. I hate read this (because unfinished books haunt me), when I could have simply re-watched ‘Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights’ instead.
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  • Lori
    January 1, 1970
    I have mixed feelings on this one. I loved parts & I disliked others. I loved Elise’s story... the struggles she faced in a changing Cuba were heartbreaking. I had a vague knowledge of Cuba’s tumultuous past & present, so I really found that part very interesting. At the same time, I enjoyed learning more about Cuba’s struggles it felt over done in Marisol’s story. The sentiments became very repetitive which made me lose interest & start skimming. Marisol & Luis’s relationship wa I have mixed feelings on this one. I loved parts & I disliked others. I loved Elise’s story... the struggles she faced in a changing Cuba were heartbreaking. I had a vague knowledge of Cuba’s tumultuous past & present, so I really found that part very interesting. At the same time, I enjoyed learning more about Cuba’s struggles it felt over done in Marisol’s story. The sentiments became very repetitive which made me lose interest & start skimming. Marisol & Luis’s relationship was another aspect I didn’t like. It seemed forced and tried too hard to mirror Elise’s story. All-in-all not a bad story overall. I look forward to reading more novels about Cuba. ‘To be Cuban is to be proud—it is both our greatest gift and our biggest curse. We are silk and lace, and beneath them we are steel.’ 3.5 stars.
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  • Cindy Burnett
    January 1, 1970
    Every once in a while I start a book and from page one I am completely enamored with every aspect of the book - the plot, the characters, the setting, and the relationships. Next Year in Havana is this type of book; as I read, I was constantly ruminating about how fabulous the book was. I love that feeling, and to me, it is the sign of an exceptionally good book. Next Year in Havana is told in a dual timeline format, alternating between the late 1950’s and present day. Both story lines are equal Every once in a while I start a book and from page one I am completely enamored with every aspect of the book - the plot, the characters, the setting, and the relationships. Next Year in Havana is this type of book; as I read, I was constantly ruminating about how fabulous the book was. I love that feeling, and to me, it is the sign of an exceptionally good book. Next Year in Havana is told in a dual timeline format, alternating between the late 1950’s and present day. Both story lines are equally compelling, and Chanel Cleeton artfully incorporates both the beauty and history of Cuba into her tale about courage in the face of family and loss. Cleeton’s family fled Cuba in 1967, and the personal connection and love she feels for the country are reflected in her tale. Cuba is a fascinating place to me, and stories set there always appeal to me. Next Year in Havana stands out because the author effectively integrates a significant amount of Cuban history while crafting a beautiful tale of family, love, and enduring relationships. I had never really understood the schism between those who left Cuba after Fidel Castro came into power versus those that remained. Without taking sides, Cleeton engenders sympathy for both groups and the difficult choices that those individuals had to make when choosing which path to take.I was curious about the title of the book when I began reading and thankfully she explains it: “As exiles, … hope is embedded in the very essence of our soul. ‘Next Year in Havana. It’s the toast we never stop saying, because the dream of it never comes true.’ ” What a beautiful tribute to Cuba that decades later those exiled still hope year after year that they can one day return, and how incredibly sad that it has still not come to pass.Sadly, I think it is easy for Americans to forget how lucky we are to live in a country where freedom is taken for granted. Reading about present day Cuba is scary: internet and cell phone coverage is scarce, the government controls what information is disseminated, food shortages are common, and retribution for speaking out can be punishable by death. The reminder is helpful in our current political environment; freedom and equality are worth protecting, and it is important to speak out against those attempting to infringe on those rights.Next Year in Havana is spectacular. I loved the entire book and was thrilled with the small surprise at the end. I had an inkling that the surprise might be coming and was glad when it worked out that way. I struggled a bit with the resolution of the present day story line but am not sure that there was any other way for it to end; it certainly did not impact my view of the book. The cover of Next Year in Havana deserves to be mentioned also; it is simply stunning and fits the book beautifully. Thanks to Berkley Publishing and BookBrowse for the chance to read this ARC. All opinions are my own.
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  • Kristin Hackett (SuperSpaceChick)
    January 1, 1970
    Buddy read with Alexa and Vanessa4.5 stars- This book made me so emotional! I feel like I learned so much about the state of Cuba, both past and present, and I truly feel for the people who've suffered and lost so much. It was definitely tough to read at times because of the nature of the political climate, but I cared so much for the characters that I had to keep going. The ending left me very excited to pick up the next book as soon as it comes out!
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  • Rachel Reads Ravenously
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 stars! “Am I dangerous?”“I have a feeling you just might be.” I made a resolution to myself last year that I would make more of an effort to read new to me authors when selecting future books. Chanel Cleeton is a new to me author, and when I saw the cover and title of this book I knew I needed to get my hands on it. And man oh man am I so glad I did because I loved this story.Next Year in Havana is told in present day by Marisol, a young woman grieving her recently deceased grandmother, 4.5 stars! “Am I dangerous?”“I have a feeling you just might be.” I made a resolution to myself last year that I would make more of an effort to read new to me authors when selecting future books. Chanel Cleeton is a new to me author, and when I saw the cover and title of this book I knew I needed to get my hands on it. And man oh man am I so glad I did because I loved this story.Next Year in Havana is told in present day by Marisol, a young woman grieving her recently deceased grandmother, Elisa, and goes to Cuba to spread her ashes. We also get Elisa’s story in 1958 Cuba, a story of love and a divided country. That’s all I’m going to say about the plot, but know both stories present and past are beautiful and will surprise you. “I walk down these streets, and I look out to the sea, and I want to feel as though I belong here, but I am a visitor here, a guest in my own country.”“Then you know what it means to be Cuban.” Cuba has always been a subject of interest for me, but not one strong enough for me to do some heavy research. Reading this book I felt I learned a lot about the country and its history, its present day happenings as well. At times the characters I felt got a little bit too political and by that I mean I did skim some political stuffs because it was feeling repetitive and preachy, but I honestly didn’t mind it that much because I’m giving it 4.5 stars.Normally when a book is told from two point of views I find I like one more than the other, but that really wasn’t the case in this book. I loved Marisol and Elisa’s stories equally, wanting to know more about both and never wanting to skip a POV. Both women are caught in impossible situations because of issues beyond their control. They feel powerless, and yet do everything they can for the people they love.Reading this book I felt as if I was transported to Cuba. I’ve never been but felt I have based on the descriptive nature of this book. Cleeton is excellent at bringing her readers into her story and I honestly can say I am dying for her to write more books like this one.I know I will remember this book for years to come. “No one warned me love would hurt so much.” ARC provided by the publisher Follow me on ♥ Facebook ♥ Blog ♥ Instagram ♥ Twitter ♥
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  • Holly B
    January 1, 1970
    Enjoyed it! A love story that spans generations... The story alternates between Havana in 1958 and Miami in 2017.Elisa and the Perez sisters were daughters of a wealthy Cuban sugar baron and were living a luxurious life in Havana. They were shielded from the horrors of the revolution going on as Fidel Castro fought the dictator, Batista for control. At least for awhile, until they had to flee. Fast forward to 2017..... Elisa's granddaughter, Marisol will return to Cuba to spread her ashes in Enjoyed it! A love story that spans generations... The story alternates between Havana in 1958 and Miami in 2017.Elisa and the Perez sisters were daughters of a wealthy Cuban sugar baron and were living a luxurious life in Havana. They were shielded from the horrors of the revolution going on as Fidel Castro fought the dictator, Batista for control. At least for awhile, until they had to flee. Fast forward to 2017..... Elisa's granddaughter, Marisol will return to Cuba to spread her ashes in her beloved homeland.  Marisol desperately wants to fulfill her wish and experience some of her family roots.  She learns much more than she bargained for when she arrives.She is confronted with the question of whether her grandmother was in love with a revolutionary.  While she is there she meets Luis, who sweeps her off her feet. Could history possibly repeat itself?  A quiet romance with some historical/political interpretation and some moments of the  chaos they surely felt with the revolution taking over their lives.Thanks to Berkley for sending me a copy to read/review.  This book is now available. 
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  • Bkwmlee
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 starsI was enamored with this book from the very first page and found it very difficult to put down after I started reading it! I will admit that I was reluctant to read this one at first, as I don’t typically read romance novels and being that most of this author’s previous works were contemporary romances, I was worried that this would be along the same lines -- however I decided to give this one a try, as I was drawn in by the historical aspect and also curiosity with the setting being in 4.5 starsI was enamored with this book from the very first page and found it very difficult to put down after I started reading it! I will admit that I was reluctant to read this one at first, as I don’t typically read romance novels and being that most of this author’s previous works were contemporary romances, I was worried that this would be along the same lines -- however I decided to give this one a try, as I was drawn in by the historical aspect and also curiosity with the setting being in Cuba. It turns out I was right to give this one a chance, as the romance aspect actually took a backseat to the history and also family dynamics, turning this into a wonderfully written work of historical fiction rather than a run-of-the-mill romance trope.Alternating between two timelines, the story is narrated first by Elisa Perez in the late 1950s, as Cuba is in the midst of a revolution led by Fidel Castro against president Batista, and then later by Elisa’s granddaughter Marisol Ferrara, nearly 60 years later, as she travels to Cuba for the first time to fulfill her grandmother’s dying wish for her ashes to be scattered in the country that always had a special place in her heart. As we accompany Marisol on a journey that is as much about discovering her roots, her heritage, as it is about coming to terms with the death of the beloved grandmother who raised her, we are given insight into the history of Cuba – more specifically Havana – and what life is like for its people both in modern day as well as back during the revolutionary period, in Elisa’s time. The juxtaposition of the two versions of Cuba – Marisol’s romanticized version passed on to her from family stories and memories versus the ‘real’ version of the Cuban people’s perpetual struggle and sacrifice – provided an eye-opening look at a country that embodied both beauty and hope as well as devastation and suffering. The disparity was so jarring at times that it really made me think about how grateful I am to live in a country that values freedom and at the same time, how so many things are taken for granted. I was absolutely humbled by passages such as this one, which was both a powerful and timely reminder of how lucky we are living in the times and parts of the world that we do: “I can’t fathom living in a world where you have no rights, where there is no oversight, no accountability. The United States isn’t perfect; there’s injustice everywhere I turn. But there’s also a mechanism that protects its citizens – the right to question when something is wrong, to speak out, to protest, to be heard. It doesn’t always work, sometimes the system fails those it was designed to protect, but at least that opportunity – the hope of it – exists.” This was just one of many thought-provoking passages in this book — so many in fact that I found myself highlighting quite a bit and also stopping to reflect on some of the issues that were brought up.In terms of the writing, I am blown away by how well-written this book was – the skill with which the author was able to weave all the historical details into the narrative yet still present such a compelling, heartfelt story with wonderfully layered characters was, to me, beyond impressive. The writing was descriptive and beautiful, but most importantly, it was incredibly atmospheric, which I feel is one of the things that sets this book apart from some of the other works of historical fiction I’ve read recently. The author Chanel Cleeton did a wonderful job of establishing a strong sense of place and time, so much so that I felt like I was transported to Havana myself and was truly able to get a feel for the city and Cuba as a whole, its inhabitants and their way of life. There were so many topics that the book touched on – social injustice, economic inequality and instability, political strife, love, family, sacrifice, etc. – but the parts that drew me in the most were the details about Cuba’s history and culture, especially the emotions and conflict surrounding what it meant to be Cuban for those who fled the country and live in exile yet were still forever connected to their heritage versus those who stayed behind, whether willingly or unwillingly, and what they had to endure as a result. As mentioned in the book, much of Cuban history is political and so inevitably there were a lot of passages about politics throughout the story, yet not once did I feel that this book was trying to push a particular political message or viewpoint. To me, this is a testament to the author’s skill as a writer, as she was able to incorporate the politics piece in a way that impartially presented both sides, allowing us as the readers to determine for ourselves which (if any) side we related more to. I also appreciated the fact that the author, who herself is Cuban-American, wove in elements of her own family history and experiences fleeing from Cuba after the revolution, as her passion for her heritage and her country’s history truly did shine through. Overall, I definitely enjoyed this one and learned a lot from it. Highly recommended for historical fiction fans, especially those interested in learning more about Cuba.Received ARC from Berkley Books via Penguin First to Read program
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  • destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]
    January 1, 1970
    When I was asked to review Next Year in Havana, it was a tough choice to make. It seemed so far out of my wheelhouse and I’ve had bad luck in the past with celebrity book club picks, so I had no clue what to expect from this! Since I make a habit of not accepting review requests for books I don’t expect to rate favorably, I thought on this one a little, but when I learned that the story was (at least partially) inspired by the author’s own Cuban heritage, I decided to give it a chance—and I am s When I was asked to review Next Year in Havana, it was a tough choice to make. It seemed so far out of my wheelhouse and I’ve had bad luck in the past with celebrity book club picks, so I had no clue what to expect from this! Since I make a habit of not accepting review requests for books I don’t expect to rate favorably, I thought on this one a little, but when I learned that the story was (at least partially) inspired by the author’s own Cuban heritage, I decided to give it a chance—and I am so happy that I did. To be in exile is to have the things you love most in the world—the air you breathe, the earth you walk upon—taken from you. First, let me talk a little bit about the writing in this book. I typically don’t do any sort of permanent annotations in my books, but when I found myself reaching for my fourth page tab in only three pages, I gave up and grabbed a highlighter. My friends, my copy of this book is now at least 35% pink, because it seemed like almost every single page had quotable phrases or passages that hit me in the chest with how beautiful, poignant, or outright powerful they were. Havana is like a woman who was grand once and has fallen on hard times, and yet hints of her former brilliance remain, traces of an era since passed, a photograph faded by time and circumstance, its edges crumbling to dust. Some of my favorite facets to the story were the ways in which Havana herself—and Cuba, by extension—were treated less like a place, and more like a character. As we alternate perspectives between Marisol’s journey and Elisa’s letters, we watch Havana shift and fall into disarray, becoming something largely unrecognizable, and it brings about the most tragic sense of mourning in the ways the region is described. “Very few can afford the luxury of being political in Cuba.”“And no one can afford the luxury of not being political in Cuba.” What surprised me most about Next Year in Havana was how immensely political it is. Don’t let the soft, lovely cover and synopsis fool you into expecting a love story—while there are two paralleling romances woven through, more than anything, this story is a forlorn love song to the freedoms that Cubans have been denied by both Batista and Castro over the decades. Intermingled with the discussions of tragedies, violent oppression, and missed opportunities, there is also a stream of incredibly relevant commentary on racism in Cuba and the US, the United States’ part played in causing the struggles of Cuban citizens, and the sense of dysphoria in the hearts of Cuban exiles and their descendants as they are torn between missing their home and feeling unwelcome there for having left. We are silk and lace, and beneath them we are steel. There’s also a beautiful message of feminism and the difficulties that come not only with being a woman in general, but also specifically with being a woman in Cuba during the political unrest. Likewise, there are pieces of dialogue regarding the classism in Cuba—both in Elisa’s and Marisol’s time frames—and the fact that the Cuban citizens in the modern sides of the story largely feel that they have been abandoned to make room for tourists. While many of these scenes are tough to read about, they open up space for us to see the fire in the hearts of the people who want to better their home in any way possible, at any cost. I’ve become unmoored with my grandmother’s passing; Ana is right—my grandmother was my anchor, and now that she’s gone, I’m adrift. If I can get a bit more personal for a moment, I also genuinely enjoyed Marisol’s memories of her grandmother, and the authenticity behind her grief at the woman’s passing. Though my upbringing was under very different circumstances, my grandmother had a major role in raising me—like Elisa did with Marisol—for the first twelve years of my life, and continued to play an important role for many years after. It’s been a few years now since she passed, but all of those emotions welled back up inside of me when Marisol grieved her, and it was such a cathartic process that I’m tremendously grateful to Chanel Cleeton for including it. There’s a novelty to this that catches me off guard. He is both old and new at once, and I can’t ignore the voice inside me—Pay attention. This is important. He is important. I’ll try to wrap this up and not just keep gushing, but the last thing I wanted to say is that, even though it feels like the least important aspect of the story by far, I wholeheartedly enjoyed the blossoming romance in Marisol’s chapters, and found myself on the edge of my seat, knowing that there was no easy answer to her falling in love with a Cuban revolutionary like her grandmother before her. I found it poignant and sweet, and it held just the right amount of presence to lighten bits of the story and add emotional weight without ever detracting from what was most important. That’s the thing about death—even when you think someone is gone, glimpses of them remain in those they loved and left behind. Ultimately, all I can say is that I recommend this book so very highly, whether you enjoy historical fiction, sweet love stories, political commentary, or any mixture of the above. Not being Cuban myself, I obviously cannot speak to how accurate the portrayals of Cuba or her citizens are, but knowing that Chanel Cleeton’s own family came from Cuba, I can only imagine that she wrote her truth as genuinely as she could. I am tremendously grateful to have this story in my life, and to Berkley for offering it to me, and I will be waiting eagerly for the companion novel, When We Left Cuba.Thank you so much to Berkley for providing me with this BEAUTIFUL finished copy in exchange for an honest review!You can find this review and more on my blog, or you can follow me on twitter, bookstagram, or facebook!———Buddy read with Courtney!
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  • myra
    January 1, 1970
    I decided to not finish this book. It wasn’t interesting enough to pick up again and continue. I was forcing myself to read the first few chapters and just gave up after that. [probably because i’m not a fan of historical-fiction.]
  • Jennifer Kyle
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 Stars!!A very good read.
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