I really should have reviewed Next Year In Havana and Heart and Seoul together. They are both about American women visiting their cultural homelands for the first time and grappling with where they belong while also falling into passionate but complicated relationships.
Cuban-American journalist Marisol Ferrera’s family fledCuba in the 1950’s and have dreamed of returning for generations. With relations between Cuba and America opening up, Marisol decides to discover Cuba for herself and see if she can find the beautiful ritzy Havanna she grew up hearing stories about.
In alternating chapters, we travel between Marisol’s journey into present-day Havana and the glamorous Havana of her grandmother’s youth. I actually didn’t know a lot about the Cuban Revolution and this book definitely filled in some blanks for me. But as someone who doesn’t read a lot of historical fiction, I found the way the plot was weaved in with historical events took me out of the story.
I don’t know if this is a function of historical fiction, but we are spoon-fed a lot of the history and I could tell the book was trying to give the reader context. I prefer to just be thrown into the plot and not have everything explained to me.
Cleeton perfectly illustrates the estrangement and contention between Cuban families who left Cuba and those who stayed behind. It’s jarring to think there are people in Miami who have ancestral homes and family in a country that is less than 100 miles away but so unreachable.
I do want to check out the other books in the series because they appear to revolve around the aftermath of the Cuban Revolution and may involve smaller histories or less known events