Thursday, May 13, 2021

Audio Book Review: Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

Pages: 361
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: February 16, 2018
Publisher: Berkley
Source: Personal Copy
Other Books By Author: When We Left Cuba
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "After the death of her beloved grandmother, a Cuban-American woman travels to Havana, where she discovers the roots of her identity--and unearths a family secret hidden since the revolution...  Havana, 1958. The daughter of a sugar baron, nineteen-year-old Elisa Perez is part of Cuba's high society, where she is largely sheltered from the country's growing political unrest--until she embarks on a clandestine affair with a passionate revolutionary... Miami, 2017. Freelance writer Marisol Ferrera grew up hearing romantic stories of Cuba from her late grandmother Elisa, who was forced to flee with her family during the revolution. Elisa's last wish was for Marisol to scatter her ashes in the country of her birth.  Arriving in Havana, Marisol comes face-to-face with the contrast of Cuba's tropical, timeless beauty and its perilous political climate. When more family history comes to light and Marisol finds herself attracted to a man with secrets of his own, she'll need the lessons of her grandmother's past to help her understand the true meaning of courage."


Elisa Perez lives a luxurious life in Cuba. It's the late 1950s and Havana is in a state of unrest.  A revolution is brewing, but you wouldn't know it if you were Elisa as she lives an extremely sheltered life.  That is until her brother gets involved with the revolution and she meets Pablo, one of Fidel Castro's revolutionaries.   This is obviously complicated as her family wants nothing to do with revolution as they are living a privileged life as sugar barons.  Readers flash forward to Elisa's granddaughter, Marisol, and she has been entrusted with the important task of spreading her grandmother's ashes back in Cuba, a place she hasn't been to in many years.  Marisol also has never been to Cuba, but is looking forward to learning more about the country as well as her grandmother. While in Cuba, Marisol discovers more than she thought she would when she uncovers letters between Pablo and her grandmother.  She also meets a family friend, Luis, and there's an instant connection between the two of them, but things between them won't be easy as he is wrapped up in Cuba.  Both women, although separated by many years, find out about love, loss, and themselves in Chanel Cleeton's Next Year in Havana.

I somehow found myself having read all of Cleeton's Cuba novels except for this one, which seems to be most popular as it was a Reese Witherspoon book club pick not that long ago.  When I had the chance to listen to the audio book, I jumped, because I can always count on Cleeton's novels to entertain me, while also providing me with a lesson or two about Cuba's history.  Plus, the setting of 1950s Havana was extremely evocative and really came through the audio version.

I loved how Cleeton connected Elisa and her granddaughter together through the years and even though they lived in very different times as many of life's struggles as well as triumphs are universal.  Both women had a romance and both women's stories were intertwined with Cuba.  I really liked Elisa in Next Year in Havana and appreciated her determination despite the many things that help her back for the time period.  Meanwhile Marisol is trying to learn more about her family and finds an unexpected love affair right in front of her eyes.   While in Cuba, she learns more about her grandmother and her extended family and before spreading Elisa's ashes, she finds some important answers of her own.

If you love a good historical beach read with a gorgeous setting, it can't get much better than Cuba in 1950s; plus, you are sure to learn something about Cuba's tumultuous history in Next Year in Havana.

Are you a fan of Cleeton's novels? Have you read this one? Do you plan on reading her latest novel this summer, The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. 


  1. Anytime I read a book about Cuba, I'm instantly reminded of the Dirty Dancing sequel movie that nobody watched. Lol. I don't know why.

    1. Haha! I loved that sequel! Thanks for visiting, Joy!

  2. I'm a big fan of Cleeton's historical fiction novels. This was a great one!

    1. Me too! I had been meaning to read this one for quite glad I got around to it! Thanks for visiting, Angela!

  3. I enjoyed this one a lot and have kept up with all of her Cuba books now. They just keep getting better!

    1. Yes and I love how they all follow the Perez family in some way or another. Thanks for visiting, Michele!

  4. Replies
    1. It really is! I hope you get to read it! Thanks for visiting, Deb!


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