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When I Was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda…
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Esmeralda grew up in tropical Puerto Rico in the late 50's and early 60's. She was the oldest child of her beautiful Mami and her handsome Papi, a couple who loved and fought with equal measure. The two never married and although he claimed all of the children and gave them his last name (7 children at that time) he refused to marry the mother and that would eventually drive the couple apart. Esmeralda enjoyed reading, loved school and grew up with the strict discipline of Mami. The family was very poor and moved often from country to city and back again hoping for a better life but Papi's frequent absences due to his affairs with other women put a large financial and emotional strain on Mami and the seven children. A bicicyle accident involving Esmeralda's young brother sent Mami to New York seeking specialists to try to help save the little boy's foot from amputation. Family memebers in New York eventually persuaded Mami to leave Puerto Rico and Papi behind. Hoping for a new life Mami brought her children to Brooklyn. Here Esmeralda would learn what it felt like to be an outsider while she dreamed of her beautiful country of Puerto Rico so far away. She was determined to claim her place in America and she worked diligently to learn a new language and excel at school, eventually earning a full scholarship to Harvard. ( )
  Ellen_R | Jan 15, 2016 |
I read this book with my book club this month. I could not put it down.
This is a memoir of a young girl growing up in poverty in Puerto Rico and then Brooklyn in the 1950's and 1960's. The author's descriptive writing paints a vivid picture of what life was for her as a child.
Esmeralda lived with her mother and father, with many siblings along the way, often in primitive conditions for their time. She was often uprooted due to the unstable relationship between her mother and father, who were never married.
After finishing this book, Esmeralda has left me wanting to learn more about her life. I am anxious to read the other books she has written. ( )
  megk11676 | Sep 16, 2015 |
The story follows the author's experiences about her daily life.

I didn't find the experiences spectacular or as thrilling as I expected to read. It was like listening to my sister ranting about her day.

It's mostly inside family stuff rather than someone whos living in Puerto Rico. Or maybe I didn't read properly. I found very little of things that would be specific to their culture.

She does have a unique way of communicating things. Communicates a lot with just a few words.

I read it for about 25% of the book and then realized that it didn't feel like we were moving forward. So I started reading the next chapter and after a few pages read the next chapter again. Finally dropped the book. ( )
  MugenHere | Jul 12, 2015 |
RGG: Vibrant, descriptive memoir of the author's life, especially family life, growing up in Puerto Rico in the 1950's. The last few chapters recount the author's move to the United States in the 1960's, which seems to coincide with a new found independence and self-sufficiency.
  rgruberhighschool | May 6, 2015 |
RGG: Vibrant, descriptive memoir of the author's life, especially family life, growing up in Puerto Rico in the 1950's. The last few chapters recount the author's move to the United States in the 1960's, which seems to coincide with a new found independence and self-sufficiency.
  rgruberhighschool | May 4, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
Under its palm frond wings, the little house on the hill sense the freshness of morning and opens its eyes to the dawn. A bird flies from its nest. The rooster jumos from the branch. From the nostrils of calves separated from the cows run the milk of dawn. Butterflies swarm-ruby, sapphire, gold, silver-orphan flowers in search of the mother branch. -from "Claroscuro" by Luis Llorens Torres
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There are guavas at the Shop and Save.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679756760, Paperback)

Selling over 16,000 copies in hardcover, this triumphant coming-of-age memoir is now available in paperback editions in both English and Spanish. In the tradition of Black Ice, Santiago writes lyrically of her childhood on her native island and of her bewildering years of transition in New York City.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:13 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

[The author's] story begins in rural Puerto Rico, where her warring parents and seven siblings led a life of uproar, but one full of love and tenderness as well. Growing up, Esmeralda learned the proper way to eat a guava, the sound of the tree frogs in the mango groves at night, the taste of the delectable sausage called morcilla, and the formula for ushering a dead baby's soul to heaven. But just when Esmeralda seemed to have learned everything, she was taken to New York City, where the rules - and the language - were bewilderingly different. How Esmeralda overcame adversity, won acceptance to New York City's High School of Performing Arts, and then went on to Harvard, where she graduated with highest honors, is a record of a tremendous journey by a truly remarkable woman. -BooksInPrint.… (more)

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