Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Table of Contents: When I Was Puerto Rican

Author: Esmeralda Santiago
Publisher/Year: Random House, 1993
Synopsis: Esmeralda Santiago passes her childhood as a jíbara, a Puerto Rican country girl, living in a small village. Her life changes when she is thirteen, and she moves to New York City, where being Puerto Rican means occupying an indeterminate place in a bewildering hierarchy of Blacks, Jews, and Italians.

How Esmeralda overcomes adversity and eventually wins acceptance to New York City's High School of Performing Arts is a record of a tremendous journey, and a remarkable and affirming story of the changes brought to a young mind as it experiences poverty, love, despair, adolescence, cultural confusion, and hope.

What Others Have To Say:

Entertainment Weekly
"Puerto Rico is part of America, but Santiago illuminates the brilliantly hued chasm between them."

"When in the epilogue Santiago refers to her studies at Harvard, it is both a stirring and poignant reminder of the capacities of the human spirit."

The Los Angeles Times Book Review
"What is particularly appealing about Santiago's story is the insight it offers to readers unaware of the double bind Puerto Rican Americans find themselves in: the identity in conflict. Is [she] black or white? Is she rural or urban? Even more importantly, is she Puerto Rican or is she American? [One] can only be grateful that Esmeralda Santiago has chosen to explore her culture and share what she has found."

San Juan Star
"You will see how one particular woman's journey from a rippled metal shack in a Puerto Rican countryside barrio becomes a story rich in reverberations about all those who have made a transforming physical and spiritual journey in life."

Readers Guide

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