Next Year in Havana
Book Review - Next Year in Havana
This is one of my favorite books I've read recently. Chanel Cleeton wrote a beautiful ode to Cuba that was also educational and inspiring. I was so lucky to receive an advance copy of this book in exchange for this review - I loved it so much I chose it as our February book club selection. We are meeting on February 28th at 7pm Central. We would love for you to join! We are casual, friendly group so feel free to log in even if you haven't read/finished the book. Just come to say hi to fellow book-lovers. Click here for more information on how to join.
Next Year in Havana is about a grandmother, Elisa, and her granddaughter, Marisol. We jump back and forth in time - from the 1950s when Elisa's family is forced to leave Cuba as Fidel Castro comes into power; to 2017 when Elisa's will asks Marisol to return her ashes to Cuba. We read about the circumstances leading up to Castro taking power and how the change in government affected Elisa's family. We read about Marisol learning more about her family's culture and meeting some of her grandmother's childhood friends - friends she hadn't seen in 50 years.
I was halfway through the book before I realized I was getting a history lesson in Cuban politics. Chanel is such a great writer she slipped in historic lessons without me even realizing it. It wasn't until I was telling my husband about the book that I realized I was talking primarily of Cuban politics and significant historical events. Of course, there is a love story and a little mystery plot that keeps the reading intrigued and the story moving along. I really enjoyed the parallels between Elisa's life in the 1950s and Marisol's life in 2017. How their choices in life were similar but the outcomes different.
I am always a sucker for a good historical fiction, but what I really enjoyed about Next Year in Havana was Chanel's description of Cuban culture - the food, the way of thinking, the architecture, the clothing. Not just from the romanticized tourist's point of view, but the local perspective. If you don't follow Chanel on Facebook, I highly recommend you "like" her page. She shares pictures of her grandma, who inspired this story, and shares Cuban recipes! The best news: Chanel is working on a second book that dives deeper into the life of one of my favorite characters from this book! Join our virtual book club to find out who my favorite character was!
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