• Rachel Penate

NEXT YEAR IN HAVANA by Chanel Cleeton

Updated: Apr 10, 2020


★★★★ / 5 ⁣⁣ (Standard)

★★★★ / 5 ⁣⁣ (Mama Scale)


Multi-generational historical fiction about political strife, deep-rooted culture, romance, and the colorful life of Cuba.


I finished this book weeks ago but I had to let it sit. "Next Year in Havana" by Chanel Cleeton really stuck with me but I didn't quite know why.

Beautifully written, check.

Sweeping description of Cuba, check.

Sweet love story, check.

But what else? All of these things are good, but that is not the stuff of a solid novel for me. And then it clicked: "Next Year in Havana" doesn't just tell a pretty story about the country of Cuba, it tells an honest one. An honest portrait. One that doesn't just detail the heartache of a politically unstable country but beautifully weaves in the rippled effect the heart of a culture has on the generations that come after.

This book made me think a lot about the effect that the generations before me have had on my own experience of culture. Just like the "hot-dishes," the days at the lake, the Finnish words weaved in here and there, the polka, and the endearing northern accent is nothing I took for myself, but everything I've come to appreciate, Marisol learns that all that she's come to love about her grandmother existed first in Cuba. A place that she knew her whole life if only through the stories her grandmother told and customs her family practiced.

Really a beautiful story. So multi-layered and thought-provoking, heartwarming and intriguing. This one was a big win for me with very little to complain about. The only reason why it didn't grasp five stars is because of a few scenes that felt a little forced or a tad bit unbelievable. But, never the less, all small details in the grand scheme of a story worth telling.

Overall, my first story with Cuba as its setting and one I will recommend over and over again.


if you appreciate a multi-generational drama centered around political activism and deep cultural roots.

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