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Next Year in Havana

by Chanel Cleeton

Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton X
Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton
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    Feb 2018, 400 pages

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There are currently 23 member reviews
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  • Chris, Wisconsin


    A Toast to Next Year in Havana
    I had a hard time putting this book down. The interwoven stories of Elisa and her granddaughter kept me enthralled and yet I felt as if I was learning a great deal of history about the lives of the Cuban people over the decades. It is a beautiful book, and I enjoyed it very much.
  • Terri C. (Litchfield, NH)


    Loved Next Year in Havana
    This book was definitely a page turner- I loved the plot, the characters, the writing- it hit high marks across all three! And I learned about a country and era and history that were unfamiliar to me before reading this book. I highly recommend this book for anyone looking for for a good book or for book clubs as there are so many topics to be discussed as a result of reading this. Best book I have read in 2017 so far!
  • Sandra C. (Rensselaer, NY)


    Cuba
    I thoroughly enjoyed the book probably in part because I visited Cuba last year. There were many parts of the book I could relate to. It made me wish I had had the opportunity to read the book before I visited as I would have delved more deeply into conditions etc.
  • Mary S. (Hilton Head Island, SC)


    Excellent History of Cuban revolution
    The author has succeeded beyond expectation in relating the historic events surrounding the Cuban Revolution and Fidel Castro's rise to power along side a present day love story. She interweaves love of country and heritage and personal love of another human being in a believable compelling manner. At times predictable, her writing style is easy to read and understand. A must read for those who are interested in learning about the political forces between Cuba and the United States today.
  • Katherine P. (Post Mills, VT)


    For Some No Melting or Assimilation
    2017--Marisol Ferrera's grandmother has just died and left a request that Marisol return her ashes to Cuba, the place of her birth. Marisol has never set foot in Cuba but Elisa has filled her head with stories of Havana and the life led by the sugar plantation rich Perez family.

    1958--19 year old Elisa Perez is an affluent debutante in Havana. She and her two older sisters rule the society of the Batista regime. But there is discontent among the poorer Cuban society and many young people are joining one revolutionary group or another. Fidel Castro is one of the most successful in gathering young men around him determined to overthrow Batista and spread the wealth of the many, like the Perez family, among the many more impoverished on the island.

    1959--The Perez family leaves Havana for Florida.
    The story is told in alternating voices of Marisol in present day Cuba and Elisa in the days of revolution. Today's Cuba is much, much different than the place of her grandmother's stories. Indeed, it is much, much different than the people who followed Castro imagined it would be.

    What was interesting to me was the sense that Marisol considers herself Cuban, though her father and she and her siblings were born in Florida. Spanish was her first language and in times of stress she thinks and prays in it. It is with amazement that she finds herself unable to relate to the actual place although she experiences a sense of homecoming upon first arriving at Jose Marti airport. I kept wondering where the melting pot of lore and the assimilation that I experienced as a granddaughter of German and Irish immigrants.

    My German forebears did not have to leave Germany--it was well the rise of Hitler or even WW I. My Irish grandmother didn't have to leave Ireland--the famine did not happen during her lifetime. Yet, they would not teach their children their native languages, since English is spoken here. There were not lengthy stories of the old country and my parents had no longing to go to Europe and see the old home. I appreciate my German and Irish heritage but don't consider myself to be either. It would be nice to travel to those countries but don't have a desire or need to see where they grew up. I found these same feelings to be true in the kids I grew up with who had the same heritage and even those of Italian and Puerto Rican backgrounds. So, is it because the Cuban immigrants felt forced from their homeland that they have never given up that expectation of next year in Havana--even those who had never, ever spent last year there?

    Though the story is fascinating, the characters all well drawn and inviting, the description of place in both eras colorful and beautiful, that inability to discern the lack of assimilation and melting into the American pot nagged throughout.

    It would appear there is to be a follow up story of Elisa's sister, Beatriz. Unlike the gentle Elisa, she is quite the flashing eyed, daring older sister. I look forward to her tale.
  • Carol N. (Indian Springs Village, AL)


    Travel to Havana
    It isn't often that a book makes me want to take a trip, but Next Year in Havana is one of those. The author has written such a compelling book that made me laugh and cry and in the end, very glad that I read it. The story of the Perez sisters and their family in the last days before Castro takes over Cuba is amazing and heart wrenching to read. Elisa's granddaughter Marisol, travels to Cuba in 2017 to complete one last act of love for her grandmother and at the same time, to get answers to questions she has wondered about for many years. She stays with Elisa's childhood girlfriend, Ana Rodriguez, and her family and slowly the story of the Perez sisters is discovered.

    Mixing the current timeline with the past is a fairly common method of writing these days but in this case it works beautifully. At times I feel like I am in Havana during the 1958 revolution; at others I am visiting in 2017 and seeing the beauty that was Cuba in the past. I want to cry not only for Elisa and Pablo, but for the people and country of Cuba that has had to go through the struggles brought on by communism.

    Next Year in Havana is a moving, heartfelt book of a love between two people and a love for their land. I highly recommend it. It makes me hope that one day travel between the US and Cuba will be the norm and I can visit this beautiful and haunting country.
  • Marge V. (Merriam, KS)


    You'll Need A Lace-Edged Hanky
    I chose this book because some of our family members are Cuban and Cuban Americans. I've been told about life in Cuba before, during, and after the Revolution and read non-fiction about the land. This book tells the story quite well for a first-time author with the lagniappe of believable love stories.

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