ARC Review: When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton

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I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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ARC Review: When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton
When We Left Cuba

5 Stars

Book Info

Released: April 9th 2019
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 368

Recommended Read!

“There’s a heartbeat to the words and I love how these story takes on a life of its own.”
~ Under the Covers

When I finished reading NEXT YEAR IN HAVANA last year I was left dying to read Beatriz’s story.  She was so different from her sister Elisa and I knew her life would follow a much different path.  While these two books stand alone very well, I highly recommend reading both and reading in the order of publication.  I don’t think they are currently marketed as a series, but maybe a companion novel?  WHEN WE LEFT CUBA delivered exactly what I was expecting.

WHEN WE LEFT CUBA opens up with 2016 Beatriz learning of the death of Fidel Castro.  Her lifelong dream finally accomplished.  And from there we get to go back to 1960s Florida after the Perez family had to flee Cuba and reinvent themselves in a different country and society.  Their mother trying to marry off the Perez sisters in the most advantageous way possible.  But Beatriz never conformed to rules.  She has strong ideals and opinions and isn’t scared to fight for them.  No matter what others will think of her, no matter what she has to risk.

We go on this journey with Beatriz learning about her life as a CIA operative, with the goal of killing Fidel but also being an asset during the Cold War.  And we get to fall in love with her as well.  While this book has a different kind of romance that Next Year in Havana, it felt deeper somehow for me.  I fell in love with Nicholas hard and I admired both of them for pursuing their relationship any way they could.  I also admired them for staying true to themselves the whole time.  Beatriz in particular.  Even when decisions where hard to make, she never compromised what she had set out to do with her life.  What gave her life true meaning.  And she lost so much for it.  There is a strength in her character that really got to me.

This book is an emotional rollercoaster that will hook you from the very first page.  It never lets you go.  Chanel Cleeton is a master storyteller.  The way she weaves these stories and consumes you with the story while you are reading it, it’s just vivid and beautiful.  There’s a heartbeat to the words and I love how these story takes on a life of its own.  I didn’t want to be away from this book even after it ended.  And I won’t be mad if we ever get to read a novella length epilogue because honestly, I could always read a little more.

This is one of my favorite books this year and I definitely will be on the lookout for whatever Ms. Cleeton writes next.  I literally can’t wait.


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About Chanel Cleeton

Originally from Florida, Chanel Cleeton grew up on stories of her family's exodus from Cuba following the events of the Cuban Revolution. Her passion for politics and history continued during her years spent studying in England where she earned a bachelor's degree in International Relations from Richmond, The American International University in London and a master's degree in Global Politics from the London School of Economics & Political Science. Chanel also received her Juris Doctor from the University of South Carolina School of Law. She loves to travel and has lived in the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia.


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Great review! I cannot wait to read next year in havana and then this!


Great review Francesca


I’m so excited for this book

Amy R

Thanks for the review.