By: Chanel Cleeton
Published Year: 2018
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Summary (Provided by Goodreads): After the death of her beloved grandmother, a Cuban-American woman travels to Havana, where she discovers the roots of her identity--and unearths a family secret hidden since the revolution...
Havana, 1958. The daughter of a sugar baron, nineteen-year-old Elisa Perez is part of Cuba's high society, where she is largely sheltered from the country's growing political unrest--until she embarks on a clandestine affair with a passionate revolutionary...
Miami, 2017. Freelance writer Marisol Ferrera grew up hearing romantic stories of Cuba from her late grandmother Elisa, who was forced to flee with her family during the revolution. Elisa's last wish was for Marisol to scatter her ashes in the country of her birth.
Arriving in Havana, Marisol comes face-to-face with the contrast of Cuba's tropical, timeless beauty and its perilous political climate. When more family history comes to light and Marisol finds herself attracted to a man with secrets of his own, she'll need the lessons of her grandmother's past to help her understand the true meaning of courage.
What I thought
I have been seeing this book around the internet for a while now and there was always something about it I didn’t quite connect with enough to pick up. I was a little nervous when Stephanie picked this book for book club, but figured it has received a ton of good reviews, so maybe I had misjudged it.
Marisol is taking her first trip to Cuba to spread the ashes of her grandmother, Elisa. In the midst of the Cuban revolution in the 1950s, Elisa and the rest of her family left Cuba for Florida. They were a rich family who, as a result, had a target on their backs. The story alternates between Elisa’s perspective in Cuba in the late 1950s, and Marisol’s present day perspective.
I found this story to be a lot more interesting than I thought it would be. The one thing I couldn’t quite figure out is that, while I found myself enjoying the story each time I picked it up, it took me a long time to get through it. I don’t know if it’s because it was a heavier book or if it was the writing style, but something slowed me down.
Marisol’s storyline irritated me after a while. I found her to be a bit naïve and whiney. I tried to understand the difficulty she was having between being Cuban but not truly being Cuban, but a lot of it just felt petty to me. I felt a lot of the time that she was being a bit self-centered about everything. I also wanted to like the love story between her and Luis but it just never clicked for me.
I much preferred Elisa’s storyline and the romance between her and Pablo. I liked the pace of the story during the revolution and learning more about what Cuba was like during that time. I don’t know much about the Cuban revolution, so it was interesting to read and learn about.
There were a few twists I could have done without. They seemed a bit cheap to me, but I’m more starting to think it was the writing. I was talking with my mom about putting books down (and I talk about it in a blog post here) and she had mentioned that she can tell when she’s not into a book because it sits and sits and she doesn’t pick it up. I feel like if this hasn’t been a book club book, I might have given up on it. Not completely given up on it, but I think maybe in the last 50-75 pages I would’ve just skipped to the end. After a while, I was ready for the story to end.
There is another book coming out that is Elisa’s sister Beatriz’s storyline. I am looking forward to reading that one because I think it will have more of the excitement that I’m looking for. I liked a lot of aspects about this story, but it just moved a little too slowly for it to become a favorite for me.
What Book Club Thought
I think I was in the middle on the enjoyment scale compared to the rest of book club. One member didn’t finish, and the others really enjoyed it. We all agreed that it was interesting to read about the Cuban revolution and that we were more excited for Beatriz’s story than we were about the story we were currently reading. It was an interesting book club choice because it had a lot to discuss story and character wise, but I don’t know if we delved much into some of the morality and the serious side of the book.