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Next Year in Havana Summary & Study Guide

Chanel Cleeton
This Study Guide consists of approximately 77 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Next Year in Havana.
This section contains 793 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Next Year in Havana Study Guide

Next Year in Havana Summary & Study Guide Description

Next Year in Havana Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton.

The following version of this book was used to create the guide: Cleeton, Chanel. Next Year in Havana. Berkley, 2018.

Cleeton’s novel is divided into 31 chapters, each from the perspective of either Elisa Perez in the late 1950s or her future granddaughter, Marisol Ferrera in 2017. Both of these characters are in Cuba, and both are first-person narrators. Elisa is 19, living in the Miramar district of Havana with her family, and Marisol is in her thirties, visiting Cuba from Miami, returning her grandmothers ashes to her home.

Elisa begins the novel waiting in the airport in Havana with her family, forced into exile by the country’s new political regime. Her sisters, Isabel, Beatriz, and Maria stand alongside her and their parents, Emilio and Mrs. Perez. They do not know when they will be able to return.

Marisol, 60 years later, following Elisa passing away, starts the novel on a plane from the U.S. going to Cuba. As Elisa’s granddaughter, she is on a mission to learn as much as her grandmother’s childhood home as possible, as well as to decide where to lay Elisa to rest. She is smuggling her ashes into Havana, and is wary of the government and the ease with which she can be arrested as an American in Cuba.

Marisol finds safe lodging with an old friend of Elisa’s, Ana Rodriguez. After staying with Ana, Marisol discovers letters and clues into her grandmother’s young life that she was never aware of before. Determined to put the pieces together to find the proper place to spread Elisa’s ashes, Marisol learns as much as she can about the island. Ana’s grandson Luis proves to be a great tour guide for Marisol, and he shows her around Havana and the surrounding areas.

Back in 1958, Elisa is surrounded by the elaborate atmosphere that comes with being a Perez. Her family’s business in sugar has established them as one of the refined, aristocratic, wealthy families of Havana. She spends her days with her sisters following her mother’s orders of how to behave at elite society functions. Feeling trapped, she escapes with her older sisters one night to attend a party. There, she is instantly struck by desire when she meets Pablo, an older man who is passionate and driven.

Meanwhile, in the present day, Marisol finds herself falling in love with both Havana and with her tour guide, Luis. She discovers more each day about her surroundings and about her grandmother’s hidden past. Most striking are the disparities that she observes between her grandmother’s rich, elaborate stories, and the Cuba that she sees before her today, falling apart and careworn. Luis is a history professor at the University of Havana, and tells Marisol many of his criticisms of the Cuban government.

Pablo and Elisa are separated much of the time, so they write each other letters when they are apart. Pablo is a revolutionary, and he travels between the countryside where fighting takes place and the city where Elisa is. Elisa finds herself torn between the two sides of the revolution, as her father is deeply entrenched in the corrupt government rule, and Pablo is fighting to change everything with Fidel Castro. The 26th of July Movement catches on, and Fidel triumphs, forcing the previous ruler, Batista, out of the country. Elisa discovers that she is pregnant, and waits for Pablo to return. One day, instead of receiving a letter, she receives the news that Pablo has died in battle.

Marisol is able to discover missing parts of her family history by retracing Elisa’s steps, tracking down her grandmother’s secret lover, Pablo. The government takes notice of her investigation, and has been watching Luis for some time. Late at night on the street, Luis is abducted by government officials. Marisol is terrified when she gets shoved into a car too. However, Marisol is taken to Pablo himself. He is still in the high ranks of the government, and did not die all those years ago. He saw Marisol’s name when she entered the country, and kept an eye out for her the whole time. When Pablo found out Luis was being arrested, he sent a car to rescue Marisol. Pablo is later able to secure Luis’s release, but Luis has to leave the county immediately before anyone finds out he has left prison.

Marisol and Luis escape Cuba together, and go to Miami to live together. Marisol is able to tell the rest of her family about her discoveries, of her newfound grandfather, and of Havana now. She and Luis plan to write about life in Cuba, and to fight the Cuban government from the outside.

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