Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton is not just a fiction book but also a history lesson. It takes place over different time periods and the Havana setting is its own character. The following book club questions will have spoilers, so if you haven’t read the novel yet, check out my preview and review first.
This is the first book I’ve read by Cleeton and I really enjoy her writing style. There’s lots of vivid descriptions of the beauty of Havana contrasting with the ongoing struggle of its people. I felt I was on this journey with Elisa and Marisol and rooted for them every step of the way. It was a fascinating story that makes you think and feel all kinds of emotions.
Let’s get into the book club questions
- What was your knowledge of Cuba prior to the reading the novel? How has it changed or evolved after reading it?
- Which perspective between Elisa and Marisol did you relate to more? Did you enjoy one storyline over the other?
- Let’s first talk about Elisa’s romance with Pablo. If it wasn’t for the circumstances that got in their way, do you think their romance would have lasted?
- Were you surprised Pablo was still alive? Do you think Marisol and her family will ever go back to Cuba to see him?
- Marisol and Luis fell for each other quickly. While it seemed they would part ways, there was the twist where Luis had to flee Cuba and join Marisol in the U.S. What was your impression of their romance and do you think they’re in it for the long haul? Can people fall in love in a matter of days?
- What did you think about the differences between those who stayed in Cuba and those who left it and came to the U.S.? What sacrifices did both have to make?
- There is lots of political talk throughout the novel from all types of perspectives. What did you think of this story choice?
- Cultural identity is also a big theme with many are like Marisol born and raised in one country yet their heritage lies in another. Do you relate to Marisol’s longing to find belonging in Cuba? How do you think Luis will adjust to the U.S.?
- The U.S./Cuba relations was strained for decades, lessen for a bit but now there are restrictions again. What do you think the relationship can be in the future? Do you think you’ll ever visit Cuba if given the chance?