Admit it, as soon as you read that title you may have hummed “Havana” by Camila Cabello, I know I did every time I picked it up. As the July book pick for Reese Witherspoon’s book club, Next Year in Havana, surely did not disappoint. This book in particular has a way to strike your emotions whether it be through how the events unfold, or the way Cleeton plays with imagery within her sentences.
Imagine a time where you lost everything you’d ever known, or a time where you thought you knew everything but didn’t. Through this book, the main characters Elisa and Marisol take us readers on a journey like never before. To lose everything you had ever known was an experience Elisa and her family (The Perez’s) unfortunately endured during the revolution in Cuba. The name Perez was held at a high standard, as Elisa’s father was a wealthy sugar baron. Elisa takes on a daring journey as young girl with not knowing what her future entails, and falling into what is considered a forbidden love. Elisa is a true testament of a female character that comes forth in strength and dignity. What I love about the Perez family storyline, is that though is focuses around the Revolution in Cuba, it remains very relatable in different ways. We all have experienced losing something and having to start over again, like losing jobs or a loved one. As you read Next Year in Havana, use those emotions you have or have had in a time of loss and apply it as you experience the trials and tribulations of the Perez family. If you release those emotions through reading this novel, Next Year in Havana will be therapeutic and impactful.
The journey of Elisa and the Perez family, which withholds secrets, sends Elisa’s granddaughter for a journey of change as well. As a freelance writer, Marisol travels to Cuba to fulfill her grandmother’s wish of spreading her ashes on her homeland. As Marisol grew up, Elisa shared a lifetime of stories with her which painted an elaborate and memorable picture of Cuba. As Marisol arrives in Cuba, she learns that she didn’t know everything about her grandmother like she thought. Marisol goes down a road of discovery where she is taught the true history of the Perez family. As a human being, we all discover new information everyday and whether it is good or bad, we must decide how we move forward. Marisol shows to be the epitome of that process, which we all can learn from.
Family secrets, new discoveries, sacrifice, and forbidden love…
Next Year in Havana is a promise of not only a great read, but a read to change your life.