Customer Reviews for

When I Was Puerto Rican

Average Rating 4.5
( 104 )
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5 Star

(61)

4 Star

(23)

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(10)

2 Star

(5)

1 Star

(5)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

It started with the 1st book!

I read this when I was younger and fell in love with this book. My family also comes from a Puerto Rican background. I just love how Esmeralda puts her words into writing. I read the book in less than two days.

posted by NYC_B00KW0RM on December 1, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

I'm loving it! Takes me back to my early visits to Puerto Rico.

Although I never lived in PR, I remember my parents talking about it and remember experiencing some of the things that Esmeralda talks about when visiting my grandmother years ago. I found myself laughing out loud on the subway. I love the way she interjects the Spani...
Although I never lived in PR, I remember my parents talking about it and remember experiencing some of the things that Esmeralda talks about when visiting my grandmother years ago. I found myself laughing out loud on the subway. I love the way she interjects the Spanish words throughout the book. I knew all of them. I would recommend this book to anyone who grew up in a Puerto Rican family!

posted by DP_From_Bklyn on February 22, 2012

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  • Posted February 22, 2012

    I'm loving it! Takes me back to my early visits to Puerto Rico.

    Although I never lived in PR, I remember my parents talking about it and remember experiencing some of the things that Esmeralda talks about when visiting my grandmother years ago. I found myself laughing out loud on the subway. I love the way she interjects the Spanish words throughout the book. I knew all of them. I would recommend this book to anyone who grew up in a Puerto Rican family!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2011

    Puerto Rico is not like that anymore.

    I am 50 yrs. old. She paints our culture like a 3rd word country. She is right about the fruits and dirt floors but that was by the time of my grandmother not now our cities are line your cities in the U.S. and towns like yours suburbs. Do not put Puerto Rico as a retrograde country

    2 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 1, 2008

    It started with the 1st book!

    I read this when I was younger and fell in love with this book. My family also comes from a Puerto Rican background. I just love how Esmeralda puts her words into writing. I read the book in less than two days.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2012

    I highly recommend this book.

    I was born and raised in Puerto Rico and reading this book brought back so many memories. I feel that it was my life written in this book. The author and I lived similar experiences.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2012

    pretty awesome.

    i never knew i would actually finish this book. never judge the book by its cover.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 11, 2011

    Beautifully written

    The story and characters in this book have stayed with me for years. This book was required reading for a college course and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Santiago writes with such depth that you feel as if these are your own experiences. A beautiful, honest look at relationships, culture, and family.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 10, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A Enjoyable and Insightful Read

    History and cultural studies can sometimes be stiff and dull. But when told through the humorous stories of individual persons and their families, that same history and culture becomes alive and we can relate to it on a personal level. I read this book a few years ago and enjoyed it. Santiago has a nice writing style.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2010

    BORING

    I have to read this book for school, and I haven't finished it yet, but it is so boring and is far too detailed. The first two pages just talk about a fruit. Don't read it. SAVE YOURSELF!

    1 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 27, 2009

    D-

    I found this book to be dull and boring. What the author says about in the book is true it does depict an American invasion on a culture, how it is received, and its repercussions. Though it still does show happy time, it still seams to depict only her life and . I found it choppy to read with random views into her life, that didn't always seam to portray the whole situation. I feel for the author and the situations that she was in, overall i did not enjoy this book.

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2008

    A Definite Read!

    When I was Puerto Rican is a memoir about Esmeralda Santiago¿s childhood. You quickly get caught up in the story and almost feel apart of the family. I really liked how the story picked up quickly and there wasn¿t a slow beginning like in some books. And from then on, there is never a dull moment. I highly recommend this book for teenagers who are taking Spanish in school 'mostly girls because the story shows a girl coming of age etc.'. There is also a helpful dictionary in the back of the book for all the Spanish words you encounter as you read. You follow Esmeralda from her home in Macun, Puerto Rico, where she deals with her two sisters Delsa and Norma and worries about her parent¿s constant fighting. She moves to New York and worries about losing her Puerto Rican heritage because of such a dramatic change. There, she develops a facination with putas, gets sick from freeze dried eggs and peanut butter milk at her new school, and learns about her grandmother¿s religious ways. Esmeralda moves frequently as well and every time her and her family moved, there would be new things to adapt to along the way. The book was not action packed, but there was never a dull moment. Whether it was a new sibling on the way, waking with worms in her bed, or helping a baby¿s spirit to Heaven. My mom recommended this book for me, and it was much better than I thought it was going to be. Esmeralda also starts off new sections in the book with quick, witty, and strange lines that make you stop and say ¿What!?¿ A few that kept me reading were, ¿We had eleven avacado trees and nine mango trees,¿ ¿Love made people do crazy things,¿ ¿ `If you close your eyes while they¿re crossed, they¿ll stay like that!` ¿ and ¿ `Everybody, take off your clothes!¿ ¿ Overall, When I Was Puerto Rican was definitely a good read. It was a bit long, but defintily worth reading.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 2, 2010

    Excellent!

    I found the detail descriptive quality of the author's style to be inspiring, captivating and culturally educational. Being of hispanic origin the author's introspective reflections of the culture of being puerto rican (the ups, downs and traditions) to be honest, pure and unembellished. Stories my mother told me of her upbring in Puerto Rico, the adjustments she had to make being an "american" girl of hispanic origins impact many puerto rican women even today. My daughter is of puerto rican/italian origin and I encouraged her to read this book for insight I could not put into words~ I have read Esmeralda's next two books and cannot wait for the next~

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  • Posted January 30, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Esmerala Santiago I capturing in her story. She is such a great writer.

    The Story in this book takes you back to Puerto Rico. Esmeralda Santiago lets you into her life in Puerto Rico. It takes you back to when she was a little girl till she is a teenager. I just love the fact that she uses both english and spanish in her story. This book is wonderful. I have recommended it to many.

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  • Posted December 29, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    Wonderfully Written

    This book brought back many memories that I had forgotten. Puerto Rico is alive and well in my heart and soul and this book helped bring it back to life within me.

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  • Posted December 13, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    It was a good book

    This book was a good read, if you are Puerto Rican it would be better. The mother in this story is almost like any of the moms that I know. I remember everything that she was writing about as I have lived it. This was a book for people to remember. The ending for me was kind of bad. She should not have ignored her mother and past like that. But other than that, it was good (but not the best either). I am Puerto Rican born in Puerto Rico and it describes almost everything I have been through as well. Love the book!

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  • Posted November 16, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    I love love love this book!

    This is one of my favorite books ever. Being Puerto Rican I could identify to the island, customs, mentality and cultural difference from the mainland. When I Was Puerto Rican is a must read!!! E. Santiago's writing style is siliar to D. L. Blanco's novel, Single Latina Female which is a really good book, too.

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  • Posted October 14, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    Loved It!

    The interesting memoire about a girls transition when moving from her small town on the island to big New York City. Very interseting and touching.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2007

    Between Two Worlds

    Santiago shares with readers episodes from her life but written through her eyes as a young girl growing up from childhood to early puberty. In writing about Ramona and Pablo's (her parents) turbulent relationship, she presents what were the cultural norms or proscribed roles dictated by the concept of 'dignidad' expected of men, women and the oldest daughter of the time she wrote, the 1950s-1960s. Looking at the expectations from the perspective of today, it seems unfair that women, let alone oldest daughters, must accept the traditional roles and not complain about husbands' philanderings or young girls must behave, whether they are ready or not, like young ladies or 'casi senoritas.' But Santiago makes it very clear that Puerto Rican society accepted double standards for men and women and certainly would ostracize those who flouted 'the rules.' But her descriptions of what is positive focuses on the lush beauty of the island, the special holiday seasons such as Christmas which has neighbors celebrating together, and of course, the strong character of her mother, Ramona, who is the pivotal figure not only in Santiago's life but for the Santiago family as she is the one, after finally leaving Pablo, who makes the decision to move the family forever from the island Santiago loves to the cold, harsh climate of Brooklyn, New York. Although this part of the book, the last quarter of her autobiography, relates how living conditions differed drastically - a high school where students are diverse in ethnicity but do not socialize, a community where not everyone is Puerto Rican, being confined to the apartment to avoid crime on the streets and experiencing for the first time the snowy, bleak winter season - Santiago also talks of her relationship with Ramona moving from the latter taking care of the daugher as she did in Puerto Rico to Santiago taking her own steps at being indendent. She negotiates with her high school principal to briefly be put back a grade until she proves her academic abilities and is given the opportunity to apply to the High School of Performing Arts which she sees as her ticket out of Brooklyn and into a new and different world. I am not Puerto Rican but Santiago's book mirrors cultural, generational and social conficts that are universal for anyone who reads her autobiography. For those interested in Latina literature, in learning about Puerto Rican society of that time, and in seeing the world she lived in through her own eyes, Santiago's autobiography is worthwhile reading.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2007

    Excellent

    I loved this book and it is now one of my favorites. I highly recommend this to all high school students and especially those of Hispanic descent. Make sure to follow it with 'Almost A Woman'.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2006

    Cool Book

    Can life be easier? I feel you, the author of 'When I Was Puerto Rican' has gone through so many things that life is unfair. Her parents seperate, she keeps moving too much, and her mother keeps having more babies. When will this stop?! When will she be able to make her own decisions? When? Read this book and you'll see what her final decision was. This is a non-fiction book and there are many connections between yourself and the author. There are some Puerto Rican words that you'll learn by looking back at the glossary. What happened to her life? Well, .... why don't you find out for yourself.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2006

    book

    The name of the book is When i was Puerto Rican. This book had more than 200 pgs. Whe i started to read it, it was getting interesting. I like books that talks about a person's life. This book was about a girl who their family was going throug the wrong path. Her family kind of got separate because her dad found an other wife. Some times he came to their house and sometimes he didn't.Throughout her life she learns lessons just by observing. I recommend this book to people who like to read about a person's life and that wants to learn a different part of the world.

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