When I Was Puerto Rican

Esmeralda Santiago, Author
Esmeralda Santiago, Author Da Capo Press $20 (288p) ISBN 978-0-201-58117-1
Reviewed on: 08/30/1993
Release date: 09/01/1993
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-679-75676-7
Prebound-Other - 274 pages - 978-0-606-16263-0
Prebound-Sewn - 288 pages - 978-0-606-14881-8
Prebound-Other - 978-0-606-20618-1
Prebound-Other - 978-1-4176-2203-0
Paperback - 278 pages - 978-0-306-81452-5
Ebook - 289 pages - 978-0-7867-3686-7
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``Our home was a giant version of the lard cans used to haul water from the public fountain. Its windows and doors were also metal, and as we stepped in, I touched the wall and burned my fingers.'' So begins this involving memoir of family life, poverty, ambition, island countryside and Brooklyn, N.Y., cityscape by the eldest of 11 Puerto Rican children. Santiago attended Harvard on a scholarship and she is now president of her own film company. She relates with humor and affection a childhood punctuated by the birth of a sibling almost every year, by the fights between her parents--both of whom she loved--over her father's refusal to marry her mother, and by the many times her mother would leave him, always to relent--until the final move to Brooklyn, where the author's grandmother lived. Shocked by the cement-ugliness and the crime-ridden Brooklyn streets, Santiago determined to get out. Although her English was poor, she was a good student who attracted the interest of her teachers. They helped her audition for the elite New York High School of Performing Arts--and she was on her way. Santiago's portraits are clear-sighted, the Puerto Rican ambience rich, and her immigrant experience is artfully and movingly told. One wishes, however, that she had been specific about the chronology of events. (Oct.)
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