My maternal grandma is Cuban. Her family came to America in the 1930's, but she spent a lot of her childhood/early teens in Cuba. I've always been fascinated about learning more about her time there, and this past May, my second cousin and I finally got to visit Havana. It was definitely an emotional trip for us, we heard stories growing up from our grandmothers, but actually being there walking the same streets as them was something entirely else. What made the trip even more special was we found family that we didn't even know existed. We went to the address where our grandma's would stay while in Cuba, and we found their cousin, one of her daughters, and granddaughter. It had been 70 years since my grandma and my cousin's had been back to Cuba, and after the revolution, they lost all contact with their family there. Neither they nor their cousin knew if the others were still alive. Now, I speak to my Cuban family all the time, and I'm so thankful and grateful for that trip. (You can read all about my trip here, here , and here.)
Seeing as how I had that experience, my friend has constantly tried to get me to read Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton, to the point where she just ended up buying it for me. (Thanks, Melissa!)
|Pub Date: 2-6-18|
Adult - Historical Fiction
In 2017, Marisol Ferrera is a Cuban-American living in Miami who has grown up hearing stories about her grandmother Elisa's lavish life in Cuba before their family had to flee due to the revolution. After her grandmother passes, her last wish is for Marisol to scatter her ashes back in her homeland. Once Marisol arrives in Havana, she learns that there's more to Cuba than the stories her grandmother told her.
This book was absolutely beautiful. Cleeton's writing transports you and makes you feel as if you're actually in Cuba watching this all unfold. I knew bits and pieces about the revolution, but nothing to the extent of where this story goes. No part in this story is sugar-coated, and it was so eye opening and heartbreaking. I loved the dual timelines/perspectives, and how you really get the full picture of what Elisa's and Marisol's family went through. That was my favorite part of this, the family ties. The loyalty and love woven throughout this was so great. I also think the romances were nice and not too over the top. Being part Cuban myself, and getting the opportunity to visit Havana and discover family I didn't know, made this book hit so close to home that much more. If you're looking to get swept up in a story, this is definitely it.