In 1958, Cuba is experiencing political unrest. The Perez sisters, sheltered from the uprising by their social standing, look for opportunities to sneak out of the house. During one of these outings, nineteen-year-old Elisa meets a man who steals her heart. He is a revolutionary. Their forbidden romance heats up as the plots against the government force the current leader to flee. For their own safety, the Perez family must also escape, leaving their possessions, and secrets behind.
Fast forward to 2017, Miami. Elisa’s granddaughter is planning a trip to Cuba, under the guise of a travel writer. She is actually planning to carry out her grandmother’s dying wishes: to leave her ashes in Cuba. Marisol hopes to learn more about the country of her heritage, encouraged by the romantic stories of her grandmother and great aunts. Marisol encounters more than she anticipated.
Next Year In Havana, by Chanel Cleeton, is both historical fiction and modern day romance. It examines the human aspects of political oppression, and offers a glimpse of Cuban life beyond the all-inclusive resorts.
As a reader, I found myself immersed in the descriptions of Cuba, interested in the questions raised by Cleeton’s characters: Is revolution ever effective? How does change happen? What hope do people have in the face of corrupt government?
Next Year In Havana is recommended to lovers of historical fiction, romance, or human interest stories. It would be a suitable study for book clubs. The audio version, available through audible.ca is narrated by Kyla Garcia, and Frankie Maria Corzo.