A Winner And A Review

Chanel Cleeton

Next Year In Havana

A cover that immediately draws you in. A cover that tells a story. A wonderful cover with a story that does it justice!

NEXT YEAR IN HAVANA by Chanel Cleeton will resonate with an entire group of people. And then there are those of us who have long been fascinated with Cuba, their revolution, and the amazing people. This is your novel.

In 1958 the Perez family were gathering what they could of their belongs, then hiding jewelry and prized possessions in their backyard. You see, they were fleeing their homeland. Leaving everything behind. Why? To save their lives. The four daughters were called the sugar queens. Their dad owned a sugar plantation and they have lived sheltered and privileged lives. Their lives were filled with beautiful clothes, expensive jewels and parties.  But, no more. They flee what was once their island paradise in Cuba. They are off for the next adventure: Miami here they come.

Inspired by Chanel Cleeton’s family history, NEXT YEAR IN HAVANA charmed me. I have long had an interest in Cuba, Havana specifically. To find this timely novel right now is like a dream. Marisol has returned to Havana with her grandmother’s ashes. She’s smuggled them onto the island through much subterfuge. Truly, it is illegal to do this. Her grandmother died just a few months before Fidel Castro. She had always planned to outlive him. Alas, it was not meant to be. But Marisol has been given strict instructions on where to place these precious ashes. Only, she is not a mind reader, and her grandmother makes her work hard to figure it all out.

In the late fifties Elisa Perez fled Cuba with her sisters and parents. Yes, they left almost everything behind. However, there is one thing that Elisa brought with her to Miami. Something no one else knew about.

I learned new history about Cuba and its politics. I loved  following along the streets and walking the Malecon with the characters. And I loved the mystery that hung over and surrounded the story. So timely. So smart. Well done!

Yes, there is romance, but lots of history and so much atmosphere. It’s a win/win for more than one genre. Cleeton tells us how her own family left Cuba in 1967 hoping their exile would be temporary.  She grew up here in the United States but remembers hearing stories told by her grandmother. Her family also buried a box of valuables in their backyard before they left Cuba. The story is fused with this authenticity.

Fifty years later Cleeton’s family is still in the United States. They’ve built their lives here, thrived in the country that took them in and welcomed them.  Her grandmother died dreaming of her homeland, and now her ashes sit in an urn, waiting the day they can take her back to Cuba.

My gorgeous trade paper edition is provided by Berkley Books. They are providing my winner with a copy. And that winner is: Cindy Tichy! Congrats, you are my winner today. I will send you an email to get your mailing address. You are a lucky readers. This one is a real keeper.



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