Review: Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

Note: This ARC was provided by Berkley Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review.

I've read several of Chanel Cleeton's books before, but her latest release is her best work to date. There's both a maturity and artistry to this story of a granddaughter who promises to fulfill her late grandmother's last wishes--to have her ashes brought to her home country of Cuba. In the process, Marisol Ferrera discovers the history of her family and of the country they loved but had to flee. She also uncovers secrets--those of her family and those of the man she's falling for. All I was hoping for going into Next Year in Havana was a good read; I got so much more.

There are two stories in this novel--that of Marisol and her visit to Cuba and that of Elisa Perez, Marisol's beloved grandmother. Life in Miami takes a backseat for Marisol when she travels to Havana to spread Elisa's ashes. While Elisa led a life of privilege, everything changed when the revolution happened. A friend of Elisa's hands Marisol a box that belonged to Elisa. As Marisol learns about parts of her grandmother's past that were kept in the dark, Marisol's own present follows an all-too familiar path. Will her future be reminiscent of Elisa's or will love prevail?

What I know of Cuba is limited to what I've studied in history books and what I've seen on film and television, both documentaries and more fictional fare. Cleeton does a highly admirable job putting into words the Cuba she presents in her book, making it quite easy for me to picture it all in my head. The dichotomy between such picturesque scenery and the polarizing revolution that forced many to flee the only country they considered home, leaving behind people they loved interspersed with two fictional romances was so breathtaking and heartbreaking.

Both Elisa's and Marisol's love stories are tested by circumstances, some beyond their control, and while the outcome of Elisa's is a foregone conclusion, it's Marisol's that could fare far better. Naturally, you'll have to read the novel in order to see if Marisol's story ends the same way Elisa's did, and if you've read the author's work in the past, Next Year in Havana has a very different yet noteworthy feel to it. If you've never read any of Cleeton's, this historical AND contemporary romance is one highly worthy five-starred read. Now to wait for When We Left Cuba... ♥

Date Read: 11 February 2018

Learn more about Chanel Cleeton.

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