Sharing a mini-review of Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton today!
Told in alternating timelines, Next Year In Havana tells a story of family history, self-discovery, forbidden love, and the effects political turmoil and war have on a country and its families. First thing first, I enjoyed the audiobook, but I think this story is rich and better consumed in hard copy, which is why I plan to reread it in the future.
In 1958, Elisa is a young woman coming to age in a politically unstable Cuba. From a privileged family, her attraction to a revolutionary threatens everything she knows — her family loyalty, her identity, her understanding of her country. In 2017, Marisol, Elisa’s granddaughter, must return to Cuba to spread Elisa’s ashes. Marisol’s journey to Cuba ignites a journey of understanding her relatives, her familial history, and how that history is often derivative of the circumstances of a relative’s youth.
This book is lyrical and explores Cuba with intimacy, examining what makes it beautiful and dangerous and complicated and compelling. Reading this book made me think about my own grandparents and the questions I wish I asked while I still could. It’s a tale of family and of love and I recommend it.
I think it would be five stars in hard copy, but I found the audio hard to follow at times (likely due to the alternating timelines). While there are many, a favorite quote is: “Havana is like a woman who was grand once and has fallen on hard times, and yet hints of her former brilliance remain, traces of an era since passed, a photograph faded by time and circumstance, its edges crumbling to dust.”