BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton [in Library Journal]

In 1959 Havana, as Fidel Castro claims absolute power, the sugar-rich Perez family’s vast wealth marks them as targets, necessitating their escape to Miami, FL. With her three sisters and their parents, 19-year-old Elisa Perez leaves Cuba forever.

Almost 60 years later, Marisol Ferrara arrives in Cuba bearing Elisa’s ashes in fulfillment of her grandmother’s final wish to return home. Elisa’s childhood best friend Ana – who still lives next door to the former Perez mansion – warmly welcomes Marisol to Havana, presenting her with Elisa’s box of long-buried secrets, prompting an inevitable collision of past and present.

Frankie Maria Corzo imbues Elisa with steely determination as her family faces destruction, and even death. Kyla Garcia relies on her notably adjustable range to seamlessly channel Marisol’s tenacious quest and vulnerable discoveries. Alternating between Elisa’s truncated affair with a revolutionary comrade and Marisol’s search to understand her family’s forcibly abandoned heritage, romance novelist Cleeton (On Broken Wings) alchemizes her own family’s Cuban exodus into historical fiction.

Despite occasional plot missteps – overwrought history lessons embedded as clumsy dialogue, Marisol’s implausibly fast-tracked romance – internationally savvy readers will appreciate exploring enigmatic Cuba, then and now, with a Cuban American insider as engaging guide.

Review: “Audio,” Library Journal, June 1, 2018

Readers: Adult

Published: 2018


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