Book Review

WHEN WE LEFT CUBA by Chanel Cleeton

Rating: 4 / 5

I read and loved NEXT YEAR IN HAVANAH when it came out in 2018 but while I have immediately added the subsequent books in Chanel Cleeton’s The Cuba Saga series, I haven’t yet picked them up. When I spotted the second book, WHEN WE LEFT CUBA, immediately available on audio from my library I downloaded it. It made a good road trip read for the whole 45 minute round trip to my cupcake shop and I remained hooked until the end!

WHEN WE LEFT CUBA centers on Beatriz Perez who was displaced to Florida when her family fled Cuba. Beatriz is determined to get her country back so she agrees to work for the CIA to infiltrate Fidel Castro’s inner circle. We see her through the years caught up in politics between America and Cuba during the Cold War.

Along the way she also falls for a man who seems a very poor fit, a man who works in politics. While Beatriz is working under cover and doing all things covert, the man she loves is friends with powerful men and must keep things on the up and up as he builds his own political power.

I really liked Beatriz and loved hearing her story. Beatriz is a woman who doesn’t quite fit the mold that her family and those around her want her to. She loves her family but while they are forming new lives in Florida, she is passionate about getting back to her home and her country. She is willing to put her life on the line and make sacrifices for what she believes in.

The political talk in this one also struck a chord with me. Seeing people passionate about the election process in JFK’s election was fun too, even as Beatriz wasn’t always sure which was the “right” side. Beatriz’s sister taking notes on the electoral college votes to tally up who is winning sounded very familiar this year especially.

This was a fun read and I look forward to picking up more in the series. I think this would work perfectly fine as a standalone as well since there is little linking the two books apart from having a family in common.

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