Book Review: Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

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“What does it say about a place that people will risk certain death to leave it?” 

After reading this book my heart is nostalgic for a country I have no connection to, and it breaks for those that do. Chanel Cleeton wrote a loving story during two turbulent times in the history of Cuba. Although, after reading this book it’s hard not to say that the times in between have been a complete disaster, a crime against humanity.

I absolutely adore historical fiction with all my heart and enjoy when authors write dates and facts into books so that you can know when and where things are happening. Cleeton does this in a brilliant way. She gives us the facts without taking away the emotional context of the story. If anything it only adds to the drama of the story and keeps had my heart racing trying to determine the outcome (even though we know what happened in history). As a reader, you learn everything you need to know and more to understand the circumstances that Marisol finds herself in while traveling to the land her grandmother was exiled from.

The book goes back and forth between Marisol’s grandmother, Elisa’s point of view to Marisol’s (in the present), and it was interesting to say just how alike the two women from different time periods, are. Their actions mirrored each other, without them even realizing it.

I’m an advocate for historical fiction. I truly believe when you put the emotional context into historic events, people understand, people empathize. For anyone not versed in the Cuban Revolution or in the precarious relationship the United States has with Cuba, this is definitely a good book to read. And for my romance gals, there is plenty of swoon-worthy moments as well.

“Do we all dare to hope for more? Of course.”

I give it 5 stars. If you want to fangirl with me about Next Year in Havana, please reach out to me!

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