Hella’s Book Review

This month Hella reviews the book Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

Only ninety miles separates the island of Cuba from Key West, Florida in the U.S., but there is a vast difference between the two countries as told in this historical fiction in which the political history of Cuba in the late 1950’s is played out. A story filled with family relationships, secrets, forbidden love, and intrigue, it is told in two different timelines, 1958 and 2017. In 2017 Marisol Ferrera, a free-lance journalist, travels from Miami to Havana to fulfill her beloved grandmother’s last wish to scatter her ashes in the country of her birth. Marisol grew up listening to endless storytelling from her grandmother Elisa about the beautiful country she grew up in and which she was forced to flee with her family during the revolution in 1958.. Read the full review


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  1. Cindy Simeon

    I LOVED this book, Next Year in Havana, and had a hard time putting it down, especially the closer I got to the end. The parallel between the two time lines (1958 and 2017) and the way the stories connected between Elisa, the grandmother, and Marisol, the granddaughter made it easy to jump back and forth, and in fact I looked forward to each. The relationship between the two women was so very precious. The story does have political undertones, but the intrigue, secrets and relationship aspects kept my interest and made it an enjoyable read. And though I lived in Key West for 30 years, this book really opened my eyes to the conditions and treatment that the people of Cuba faced in the past, and still do today, and the extreme lack of freedoms that they continue to endure. Freedoms that we so easily take for granted. This is one of those books that stays with you well after you finish reading it!

  2. Maggie Rutjens

    I lived in Miami for close to 10 years. Reading this book brought back so many memories of places I went and “exiles” I knew. I’ve been to the “southern most point” of the US and I bought a conch shell there. I knew people that had similar stories of leaving Cuba. My ex-husband was Cuban and my last name was Castro for 15 years (no relation to Fidel). My ex-mother-in-law told stories about living in Havana. This book was all to real for me, I had a hard time putting it down. I did use the excuse this was D.E.A.R. week so I didn’t feel so guilty about not doing housework. I am looking forward to Chanel’s new book, “Beatriz”. If there is anywhere I would like to visit, it is Cuba. I do agree that by the time I get there, it will be very commercialize, the way Miami Beach is. I worked at a Senior Center in Miami Springs and the older Floridians will tell of a time when there were no high-rise hotels on the beach and the cool wind blew across the state so there was no need for air conditioners. We had a paradise of our own once. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Maggie Rutjens

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