This book is about the authors chaotic childhood in Puerto Rico and then her move to Brooklyn, New York. She writes about her journey through the public school system, the prestigious High School of Performing Arts and attending Harvard University on a scholarship. I felt drawn into her story as she wrote about being caught in the agonizing web of dual identities, an experience many immigrants to America face. This excellent coming of age autobiography is written by a producer of documentary and education films. Esmeralda Santiago has also written for the New York Times, the Boston Globe and many mass market magazines like Good Housekeeping and Home and Gardens. I found her writing to be very engaging. This book is highly recommended for the readers interested in the immigrant experince and for the educators. There is an excellent movie verson of the sequal to WHEN I WAS PUERTO RICAN called ALMOST A WOMAN.
I read this a long while back, but I still remember my over all impresion of the book as being a wonderfully enlightening read. The author has a very readable style and you really " go with her" in her rememberances of a childhood in P.R. Very warm, very honest writing.
This book was a great read, A story about the authors childhood growin up in Puerto Rico then moving to NY. Being from Puerto Rico myself I found it so easy to relate to some things and it brought back many memories.
Beautiful book! Well written! ( My family is from Puerto Rico and reading this book took me back to my childhood living in P.R. because at 19 years old I came back to my birth place,which is the New York. Many years since that happened, and I missed the island so much.) You don't have to be puertorican to enjoy this book. Believe me you will read so fast and you will enjoy it! Esmeralda is the best!
YA-Esmerelda and her seven siblings live in a corrugated metal shack in Puerto Rico. She is uprooted as a result of poverty and her parents' quarreling and suffers blows to her ego from their expectations of her. The girl goes to New York, where her grandmother lives, and must rely on her intelligence and talents to help her survive in an alien world in which being Puerto Rican is not advantageous. Her story rings true and will be an inspiration to YAs forced to make their own way in a sometimes hostile environment
I couldn't put this book down. The beauty and courage of this young girl brings you to tears. The way she describes her life in Puerto Rico....the sights, the sounds, the smells of her mother's cooking, makes you feel that you are right there. .
I like memoirs, but this one was especially wonderful and poignant. It is beautifully written, with vivid descriptions of Puerto Rico and New York, and I read it twice and looked up all of her other memoirs to continue being immersed in her life story, which was a wonderful experience all the way through. Highly recommended.
Born in 1952 in Pennsylvania of Puerto Rican parents, I could relate to the author's story in reverse. It wasn't until I visited Puerto Rico in mid70s and saw and felt its beauty and culture thru my mind, body and soul that I can appreciate this wonderful book. I too spent time in NYC with relatives when my mother had to return for family emergencies/deaths.
's. Santiago writes so vividly that I felt like a fly on the walls of the varies places she transported me to, I could taste all the foods & desserts, I could smell all the scents of the native bushes, flowers, fruits & vegetables as well as El Mangle.
In the 60s it was so true being of mixed cultures.....
You never fit in either one! And being the eldest, you were EXPECTED to set the example for the rest of your siblings. Education was the way up and out. Esmeralda also hits it on the head when she says we were the family/neighborhood interpreters.
I recommend this book to all generational families as well as required reading for Diversity Classes. THEN maybe people will learn that we ALL go thru the same things NO MATTER what country, religion, money we come from ---- WE ARE ALL THE SAME!!!