You may remember that Cleeton is the author of two of my favorite books, Fly With Me and Next Year in Havana. When We Left Cuba is the follow up to NYIH and I have been excited about Beatriz’ story since last year. I found Beatriz Perez to be incredibly intriguing and she did not disappoint.
Beatriz is smart and beautiful and a fighter. She is heartbroken about her family’s relocation to Florida after Castro takes over Cuba. She is counting down the days until she can return to Cuba. Much like in Next Year in Havana, the love the Perez family has for their home is devastatingly clear. When the story opens, Beatriz is participating in the social season and she is bored with it. Early on in the story she meets a handsome man, Nicholas Preston. It is very clear he is the love interest. Beatriz is a smart and very beautiful young woman, but she is bored by the expectations set by society, and her mother, for her.
Beatriz’s story centers around her determination to get Castro removed from power so she can return home. The story is heavy on the politics from the early 1960’s with a focus on relations between Cuba and the US. Where Next Year in Havana was heavy on visual depictions of Cuba that had me so taken with the story, We When Left Cuba lacked those descriptions and so the story felt lacking to me. The first part of the book dragged a little for me until Beatriz really found herself immersed in her new life.
This story is historical fiction with a pretty healthy side of romance. But because it is not a “true” romance, there are some themes that may not be for everyone, they include: espionage, death, politics, and infidelity. I’d like to talk about the infidelity just a smidge. So if you are interested in this book and don’t want to be spoiled, step away now. Beatriz falls in love with a young senator named Nick. Nick comes from a wealthy Connecticut family and he’s engaged. He and Beatriz fall in love. He is also involved with someone else. I did not hate this aspect, in fact I kind of loved it. I am not advocating for infidelity, but for me it felt very authentic to who Beatriz was. Also, love is MESSY AF. Is was for Beatriz. It often is for many people. I enjoyed seeing a messy love on page.
Overall I really enjoyed this story, it was a little heavy on the intrigue and not enough of the visual that I LOVED from NYIH, but it was still a solid read. I would definitely read more stories about the Perez family.