My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Havana, oh-na-na! Half of my heart is in Havana, oh-na-na.
Ok, I’ll stop.
But seriously, this book oozed Cuba! I could see the colorful building and old antique cars. But, I could also feel the heartbreak and struggle of the Cuban people at the hands of an oppressive government.
This book is about the past and the present. It’s 1958 and Elisa Perez, the daughter of a sugar baron, lives the life of a debutante. Her family has money and her father’s business is supported by Batista, the US-backed Cuban president who suspended the 1940 Constitution and turned the country into anything but a democracy. When Elisa falls in love with Pablo, a Castro supporter and rebel, her life is about to get very complicated. Meanwhile, Miami 2017. Elisa Perez passes away and her granddaughter, Marisol, is tasked with spreading her ashes in Cuba. It will be Marisol’s first trip to Cuba, the land of her ancestors and her heritage. But, will she dig up some skeletons from the past?
First of all, I feel like I didn’t get a thorough history lesson in Cuba and the Cold War in high school. This book was pretty eye opening. For a fictional book, I learned a ton about Fidel Castro’s rise to power, and the promises that were made the Cuban people that never materialized. Let me tell you something, if there is ever a time when you’re questioning your life in America, you need to read this book. The worst day in America sounds better than the best day in Cuba. Freedom is something that we take for granted.
Chanel Cleeton’s writing was beautiful. I loved the character development. I felt a connection to both the people and the place. There was good tension throughout the book that kept me engaged and wanting to know more. In fact, I can’t wait for the sequel, When We Left Cuba, which is expected to be out in April 2019.
It should also be mentioned that this book was one of Reese Witherspoon’s book club picks, which are always fantastic.
Finally, this audiobook was done extremely well. Loved the multiple narrators that were part of the story. They had a little hint of a Cuban accent that just took me there. Loved it.
Can’t recommend this book enough. I think it’s such an important piece of history to understand that isn’t talked about enough.