Next Year in Havana // Utterly Stunning. I Didn’t Want To Put It Down

15 January 2019

Next Year in Havana
Published: 6th February 2018

Source: Bought

Genre: Romance, Historical Fiction

My Rating:
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.
I know I say this a lot when it comes to books I’ve put off reading due to the hype, but why didn’t you guys push me harder to read Next Year in Havana?

Next Year in Havana is an utterly astounding novel which transports you away to Cuba, both past and present. From the very first page, you will feel invested in both Marisol’s journey in the present and Elisa’s journey in the past. It was an emotional roller-coaster of a book which I just didn’t want to pull myself away from. Chanel Cleeton managed to capture so much within these pages and she never drops the ball on any element of the story. The characters, the romance, the story, even the history within the pages is all done well. I was so utterly invested that I didn’t want to put this book down. If hadn’t needed to get some sleep I could have easily read this book straight through until the end.

From the summary, you can already tell there is a dual storyline. You have Marisol’s journey in the present, travelling to Cuba for the first time in her life, to a country she feels is home from her families stories of their time living there and the multitudes of family history which has occurred there. She is travelling to scatter her grandmother, Elisa’s, ashes and hoping to learn more about her family history whilst she is at it, where she discovers far more than she ever expected. And there is Elisa’s story in the past, starting a few months before the Cuban revolution which led her whole family to leave a country she loved. You slowly learn there was far more to Elisa than Marisol ever realised and I couldn’t wait for each time we returned to Elisa’s story in the past and her passionate affair with a man who was against everything her family represented in Cuba, yet who she cared for. It’s a story Marisol never knew and I loved learning about it.

Too often with books with dial storylines like this one, you find yourself more invested in one story than the other, but that simply wasn’t the case here. I expected to be more invested in Elisa’s story, to be honest, it seemed more exciting, but I loved both women, Elisa and Marisol, but that’s to be expected with Elisa helped raise Marisol, you could see elements of her within Marisol at times. And it was so impressive that both storylines mirrored the other in certain ways. Both Elisa and Marisol found themselves falling for someone political and they both fell for someone who loved Cuba so dearly and who were risking themselves for their beliefs. And Elisa and Marisol themselves were discovering their passions and learning what they wanted in life. I think that is why it was so easy to be invested in both stories because they each were following a similar path and you were hoping mistakes from the past were not repeated in the present.

As this was a historical read I also thought this might be a bit too heavy on the history, as well. But I loved learning more of both Cuba’s past and it’s present within the pages. Cuba is relatively unknown to me and I am now shocked at how we don’t hear more about Cuba. I mean, I know people that want to travel there, it’s a holiday destination and I think many have forgotten it is a communist country and the struggles which people are undergoing there even now is shocking. I feel like I need to read up on all the Cuban history because how did I not know about any of this? It was heart-breaking reading the Perez’s struggles in the past and I cried as they did, and mourned when they had to leave a country which they loved and which was their home. And when Marisol returned and felt that sense of home upon arrival, only to have it ripped away through the pages as she felt a sense of other in the country she loved because she hadn’t gone through the struggles those who had stayed had gone through and didn’t understand the way in which they still struggled. It was awful.

This was such a powerful and emotional read. I loved it so completely and cannot wait to read Beatriz’s book When We Left Cuba. Next Year in Havana was filled with history, emotional and amazing characters you can behind. I was crying by the end in such a good way because I was so utterly invested in Elisa’s and Marisol’s story. It was my third book of the year and I already know it’ll be one of my favourites of 2019. I will now be committed to reading everything which Chanel Cleeton writes and trying to talk myself out of preordering a signed copy of the book from Fountain Bookstore so I can get that stunning Besame lipstick with it. I adored it just like I adored Sarra Manning’s books like After The Last Dance and The House of Secrets both of which had a dual storyline and were utterly amazing.

Please tell me you have read this already? Wasn’t it utterly stunning in every way imaginable? And if you haven't, have I convinced you to buy it?
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