As I continue to grow my reading selections I have found diverse reading clubs where I have been introduced to new budding authors. For the month of February Saltwater Reads reading group thru Instagram selected Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton. Prior to last year I had not been typically drawn to historical fiction, but thru these reading groups and fellow reader suggestions I have been able to expand into a whole new genre. It has become such an amazing journey to be able to travel thru historical settings with these authors.
Next Year in Havana follows Marisol as she sets out on a journey to lay her grandmother, Alyssa, to rest in a land she always considered home even after exile many years ago. Marisol travels to Cuba where her family had left back in the 50’s. This was a volatile situation as the regime transitioned from Batista to Castro and those who had been supporters of Batista were being taken from their homes, imprisoned, their wealth and homes taken from them and some were even executed.
Alyssa and her family made the decision to leave Cuba until Castro was either out of power or his life ended. They never expected that this would be something most of them would never see in their lifetimes. Alyssa also had a secret she held as she left Cuba with her family. She was pregnant with the child of her love and secret fiancé who she had been told had been killed in action during one of the raids.
Marisol who was practically raised by her grandmother was given the task of taking her ashes back to Cuba when it was safe to do so and lay her to rest where she felt would be appropriate. This was no small task as it was an incredibly hard task to sneak the ashes into the country without being detected. Once Marisol arrives she is taken into the care of her grandmothers childhood best friend who presents her with a box of items that she and Alyssa had buried prior to leaving. She had snuck into the Perez family’s back yard sometime after to make sure she could keep it safe.
As Marisol continues to travel around Cuba she is overcome by the way of living. She is uncovering secrets about her family and Cuba while trying to stay under the radar.
This story holds history, love, loss and the strength of family.
Next Year in Havana
By: Chanel Cleeton
Berkely Publishing 2018