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Almost a Womanby Esmeralda Santiago
Synopses & Reviews
From a three-room apartment in Brooklyn occupied by ten family members, Esmeralda Santiago begins a journey that is both a triumphant struggle for identity and independence, and a mother's worst nightmare. Challenged by language barriers, cultural stereotypes, and the fiercely protective Mami, Santiago continues the rollicking ascent she began in When I Was Puerto Rican. By day she perfects the role of Cleopatra at Performing Arts High School and interprets for the family at city welfare offices. At night she accompanies her mother and sisters to Latin dance halls, but on such a strict leash that she has her first date at the age of twenty. Undaunted, she makes up for lost time in a romantic apprenticeship at once hilarious and heartbreaking.
"Santiago's descriptive prose and lively dialog draw the reader in; we are reminded of the pains and pleasures of adolescence and wonder what happens next in her life." Library Journal
"Forced to lose her Puerto Rican accent to widen her acting range, Santiago never lost her connection to Mami, her family and her heritage, and her love for them all shines through this engaging memoir." Publishers Weekly
"Not only for readers who share [Santiago's] experiences but for North Americans who seek to understand what it means to be the other."--The Boston Globe
In her new memoir, the acclaimed author of When I Was Puerto Rican continues the riveting chronicle of her emergence from the barrios of Brooklyn to the theaters of Manhattan.
"Negi," as Santiago's family affectionately calls her, leaves rural Macún in 1961 to live in a three-room tenement apartment with seven young siblings, an inquisitive grandmother, and a strict mother who won't allow her to date. At thirteen, Negi yearns for her own bed, privacy, and a life with her father, who remains in Puerto Rico. Translating for Mami at the welfare office in the morning, starring as Cleopatra at New York's prestigious Performing Arts High School in the afternoons, and dancing salsa all night, she yearns to find balance between being American and being Puerto Rican. When Negi defies her mother by going on a series of hilarious dates, she finds that independence brings its own set of challenges.
At once a universally poignant coming-of-age tale and a brave and heartfelt immigrant's story, Almost a Woman is Santiago's triumphant journey into womanhood.
"A universal tale familiar to thousands of immigrants to this country, but made special by Santiago's simplicity and honesty."
--The Miami Herald
"A courageous memoir. . . . One witnesses. . .the blessings, contradictions and restraints of Puerto Rican culture."
--The Washington Post Book World
About the Author
Esmeralda Santiago lives in Westchester County, New York, with her husband and two children.
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