Thoughts While Reading: When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton

April 10, 2019 at 7:57 p.m.

Winning! Very rarely do I pre-order books. I typically add a release I am standing by for to my Amazon Cart and just let it sit there until it releases..I can count on one hand how many pre-orders I’ve actually done. When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton is one of the few. This beauty arrived yesterday and I started it last night. I feel like I totally scored with this one because I logged into Overdrive last night and my local library had the Audiobook available, NO HOLDS! 

Ever since finishing Next Year In Havana, I couldn’t wait to get Aunt Beatriz’s story. In that one, she just came across very beautiful and powerful. Like she didn’t really care how beautiful she was, she preferred intelligence and making change. She seemed so radical and revolutionary. Having this gem in my hands right now has me feeling an excitement for a book I haven’t felt in a long time. I have been patiently waiting for this story and am thrilled it’s finally here.

The prologue ending to Beatriz’s story is Everything:

“When did she get so old? There is no note in the basket, but then again there’s no need. Who else would send her such a gift: extravagant, poignant, perfectly her? No one but him.”

I need to find out who ‘him,‘ is.

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April 16, 2019 at 9:18 a.m.

I have been making my way through When We Left Cuba since it arrived in the mail, but last night we made the four hour trip to Dallas, Texas and I got. good chunk of the audiobook listened to.

I’m currently about 63% of the way through and I have tons of feels.

“I wish I’d never met I’m at all, so I wouldn’t know what I’m missing.”

“Is this love? Who has time to worry about such things? At the moment it is everything and that’s all that matters.”

“It turns out, missing you is the most exhausting thing of all.”

I now know who “him,” is..Nicholas. I am anxious to see what becomes of the relationship between him and Beatriz.  With how it started and what it basically was, I don’t think I can really see it being anything other than…

The pacing of this book takes me back to Next Year In Havana. Cleeton’s story telling feels very slow moving while at the same time having so many moving pieces. Beatriz is a force to be reckoned with. She is a very head strong, intelligent heroine and I love her.  Beatriz paints the perfect picture of what being a woman during her time was like and how difficult it could be if you were a woman who didn’t want to conform to societal norms.

The main theme I am feeling from this book thus far, is “do something.” Beatriz has this strong urge, that drives from loyalty to her brother, her country..to act now, to do something about what her people have went through.  All while being in love with a man who can never truly be hers, and having a man in love with her, who she realizes has been in love with her for years.

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April 18, 2019 at 7:17 p.m.

I finished the book this afternoon. I couldn’t give it anything less than 5 out of 5 stars, it was so damn good. Firstly, if you’re not a fan of slow moving stories..I say stick with this one. It’s very much worth it in the end. When We Left Cuba is very political. I loved that Cleeton set it during the time period she did, because it was so easy to imagine how tense the world was at the time. The time period also played heavily into Beatriz’s character. She was a young woman during a time when society’s expectations, her family’s expectations were for her to marry and start a family. Attending school, voicing her opinions..were totally opposite of what was expected of her. It was truly the love of her family and her love for Cuba that wouldn’t allow her to sit idly by as things were happen. She needed to do something.

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The thing about the romance between Beatriz and Nicholas is, it starts off totally wrong and with all the odds against it. Despite that, the love between these two only grows stronger with time. They always find their way back to each other. This books ending won’t be your favorite happily ever after, but it works once you get to know Beatriz. I honestly couldn’t see the ending being any other way. She was a woman who did things on her terms, when she wanted to, so the ending made total sense to me, and I absolutely loved it.

I can’t recommend this book enough. If you want a good historical novel, rich with history from a time period I think gets overlooked a lot, I definitely think you should check it out.

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