STARRED REVIEW
April 2019

When We Left Cuba

By Chanel Cleeton

An edifying, entertaining read filled with adventure, suspense, history and romance, When We Left Cuba is a thought-provoking look at the ways in which politics can be intensely personal.

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On the surface, Beatriz Perez is a gorgeous 22-year-old society woman gliding through a cycle of parties, gossip and marriage proposals along with the other moneyed elite in 1960s Palm Beach, Florida. But beneath her cool exterior burns a pure, sharp desire for revenge. In Chanel Cleeton’s When We Left Cuba, we learn that Beatriz and her family (including sister Elisa, protagonist of Cleeton’s Next Year in Havana) left Cuba after Fulgencio Batista was overthrown, Fidel Castro took power and her sugar-magnate father’s land was seized by the government. 

The Perezes moved to Palm Beach in hopes of finding a sense of safety, rebuilding the family fortune and, to Beatriz’s unending frustration, marrying off the unwed daughters. She has much bigger plans—like, say, taking down Castro so she can go home to her beloved Cuba. Thanks to her still-privileged social position and her strong bond with Eduardo, a family friend and revolutionary, she’s actually got a chance at doing so. Eduardo introduces her to a CIA agent who sees her as a good bet: She’s fierce and smart, anger has made her reckless, and her social status gives her plausibility.

But there’s a complicating factor. Beatriz and Nicholas—a smart, sexy senator-to-be—meet at a fancy party, and their chemistry is immediate and electric. Alas, he’s engaged, an arrangement orchestrated by two families that want political and financial benefits from the union. Beatriz and Nicholas understand each other on that level and so many others, from the political to the personal to the physical. But amid the aftermath of war and continued upheaval in the U.S. and Cuba, plus divergent views on how best to achieve their goals, being together often feels impossible.

An edifying, entertaining read filled with adventure, suspense, history and romance, When We Left Cuba is a thought-provoking look at the ways in which politics can be intensely personal.

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When We Left Cuba

When We Left Cuba

By Chanel Cleeton
Berkley
ISBN 9780451490865

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