A review by wordssearched
Next Year in Havana, by Chanel Cleeton


This book was, honestly, a disappointment. The writing is just not very good, full of overwrought and clunky expository dialogue and leading men that don’t quite manage to be more than archetypes. It does manage to hit some poignant notes about home and longing that is particular to the Cuban experience, but they just manage to make the book OK, not nearly as good as it might have been. I am not Cuban, but I’ve been there and spent time with people who existed under Castro, so I was somewhat frustrated by the writer’s inability to take herself out of the exile perspective that continues to lay the blame for everything under the sun at Castro’s feet and soft-foots Batista, the Americans who propped him up and, later, one of the worst international policy failures of all time (the embargo). Then again, I am not Cuban. There are much better books out there about women in revolutionary times, like In The Time of the Butterflies from the Dominican Republic and The House of the Spirits from Chile. Cuba deserves a timeless classic, but it isn’t this one.