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When We Left Cuba

Updated: Dec 29, 2019

A compelling story with a fascinating and courageous female character well ahead of her time.



The beautiful sugar heiress Beatriz Perez and her family lost everything in the Cuban Revolution. Her father was imprisoned, her home was taken and her twin brother was killed. She is angry and will do anything to extract revenge on Fidel Castro in an attempt to reclaim the life she lost. Beatriz’s anger, beauty and connections has come to the attention of the CIA. She willingly risks her life to infiltrate Castro’s inner circle for the CIA.

Beatriz is also caught between Cuban American politics and exposure of a forbidden affair with a powerful Senator who has ambitions of his own. When changing circumstances threaten everything Beatriz has fought for, she must make a choice between the past and future. But the wrong move could cost Beatrice everything, not just the island she loves, but also the man who has stolen her heart.

“If I’m going to have regrets in this life, I’d rather them be for the chances I took and not for the opportunities I let slip away.”

“Dreams never die all at once. They die in pieces, floating a little farther and farther away each day.”


Beatriz’s confident and courageous character richly drives the narrative. She was a smart, independent and fascinating woman well ahead of her time. She wasn’t interested in marriage and playing a traditional role in society. Instead she was interested in making a difference in the world. Beatriz’s passion and strength in her beliefs is what make this book compelling.

The story was entertaining and dramatic, and filled with history, political intrigue, and romance. The writing was skillfully-crafted, thought-provoking and smart, although could have been slightly tighter in places. Overall...highly recommended.

WHEN WE LEFT CUBA is a prequel to the delightful best seller NEXT YEAR IN HAVANA (2018). Originally from Florida, author Chanel Cleeton grew up on stories of her families 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 bachelors degree in International Relations Chanel also received a juris doctorate from the University of South Carolina School of Law. I listened to the audiobook edition on this book and found the narration by Kyla García delightful.

“There is no point in denying it. Anger is my faithful companion.”

“The thing about people telling you you’re beautiful your whole life, is the more you hear it, the more meaningless it becomes What does beautiful even mean, anyway? That your features are arranged in a shape someone, somewhere arbitrarily decided is pleasing? Beautiful never quite matches up to the other things you could be, smart, interesting, brave.”

Publisher Berkley Books

Published April 9, 2019

Narrated Kyla García

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