Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton
Release Date: February 6, 2018
Genre: Historical Fiction
My Rating: 🍪🍪🍪
Next Year in Havana is one of those books I picked up purely because I was seeing it all over the place and I needed to know why. Book FOMO, if you will. Unfortunately for me, it didn’t quite live up to my expectations. I do generally enjoy historical fiction, but the political components of this book made it harder for me to get into. The story switches back and forth between two different points of view. The first, set in 1958, is that of Elisa Perez, who lives with her sisters, largely sheltered from the political unrest in Cuba because of her family’s wealth. The second, is Elisa’s granddaughter, Marisol, who travels to Havana in 2017 to scatter her grandmother’s ashes, although she is not legally allowed to do so. As a journalist, she is able to play her trip off as an opportunity to write an article.
While in Cuba, Marisol meets Luis, the grandson of a close friend of her late grandmother. He acts as her tour guide, and helps her begin to understand an insider’s perspective on the political history and present-day state of the country. Marisol struggles to see his point of view entirely, but feels herself emotionally drawn to him. This romance seemed unbelievable to me, too much too fast, and definitely took away from my enjoyment of the book.
Elisa’s storyline chronicles her love affair with a young revolutionary, as she and her sisters are forced to leave their home and face the reality that their lives will never be the same. I think that Elisa’s part of this story was more interesting to me, but I felt as if I got to know her much less than Marisol.
The descriptions and overall writing style were quite lovely, and the overall takeaway was nice, but for some reason this one just didn’t live up to the hype for me. Some of my disappointment was fixed by devouring a plate of these Death By Chocolate Chip Cookies that I added mega M&Ms to for some extra flair.