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Almost a Woman: A Memoir
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Almost a Woman: A Memoir

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  1,633 ratings  ·  95 reviews
Following the enchanting story recounted in When I Was Puerto Rican of the author’s emergence from the barrios of Brooklyn to the prestigious Performing Arts High School in Manhattan, Esmeralda Santiago delivers the tale of her young adulthood, where she continually strives to find a balance between becoming American and staying Puerto Rican. While translating for her moth ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published June 12th 2012 by Da Capo Press (first published August 1st 1998)
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I must admit, I was not looking forward to reading this for my book club. Another coming of age memoir from a disadvantaged urban kid done good? However, the easy tone and family vignettes drew me in, and I found Negi's experiences to be universal. Anyone who has felt different, been bullied, or felt torn between family values or traditions and popular culture or individual sensibilities will find a kindred spirit in this book.

We had a decent discussion about how family and parental relationship
Tara Chevrestt
Wow.. I thought I had a strict upbringing.. Esmeralda's takes the cake. This memoir picks up where "When I Was Puerto Rican" stops (well, the first chapter or 2 basically repeats the end of the first book for those that did not read it) and covers her teenage years. She had a mother that bore eleven children and never married, but was apparently so concerned that her daughter not follow her example, she did not let Esmeralda date and kept her on a very short leash. Esmeralda finds ways around it ...more
I went into this book thinking that it would talk a little about things I understood like acting and dancing and that the rest of her life would go right over my head.
However, I found a very different story waiting inside. Santiago's story had elements of every young persons life who's ever been different somehow, or whose parent(s) were overprotective. I think that through her relationships with her family, friends and boyfriends she sends a positive message to all young women.
This book is about a girl named Esmeralda (aka Negi) who has moved from Puerto Rico all the way to Brooklyn. Throughout her life she moves from one house to another, in search for more room where her growing family can live. Her mother didn't work for some time and she needed Child support (when the government gives you money for food, water, shelter). When she went to school, she didn't know english. As she went to High School, her english grew and grew. When she went to the Performing Arts sch ...more
Melissa Andrews
apr 15: started this book on my way home from a business trip. i hadn't had much sleep and wasn't sure that i'd make any headway, but it is wonderful! the story - her personal life - is fascinating and her style is light and easy to read. i also am an immigrant to this country and it is very interesting to read the experience of another and compare it to mine. i ended up not sleeping for most of the flights! will probably finish it this weekend.

apr 22: ok so I had to wait until another trip to b
Since I first happened upon this book and this author in Spanish, I was actually surprised to discover this book was written in English first and then translated into Spanish. Regardless, I thought this was a really interesting and pretty compelling story of a first-generation "immigrant" (since she's Puerto Rican, she's not necessarily coming from a different country, technically, but she certainly shares many of the experiences that other immigrants would), and especially as a child adjusting ...more
This was a very good book that really went into the life experiences of Esmeralda Santiago. Before I read Almost A Woman I read another book by Santiago, When I Was Puerto Rican. I Loved When I was Puerto Rican and wanted to read Almost a Woman because of that. Although I found a lot of overlap between the two books, they are still amazing texts. Almost a Woman is a very relateable text that goes through Santiago's struggle with maintaing her Puerto Rican culture while trying to assimilate and b ...more
In this book, Esmerelda picks up where she left off in "When I was Puerto Rican". It's about her teen years in NYC. Whilst I enjoyed more, learning about her childhood in Puerto Rico, I still really enjoyed this memoir as well. Esmerelda Santiago is a very readable author, her descriptions fun and interesting, alive. The only thing I didn't particularly like about this book was how it ended so abruptly. I guess, though, that it must end somewhere, and it makes sense where she leaves off, the poi ...more
Aug 15, 2010 Doreen rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: to women, teens through old gals!
Recommended to Doreen by: Diane
What a lovely book. Santiago shares her feelings, fears, and fantasies, growing up as a young Puerto Rican girl. She arrives in New York at the age of thirteen. That's a crucial time in a girl's life. Her experiences within her large family are recounted lovingly, with humor and typical teen-aged disdain. Her experiences with men are recounted honestly, without any sugar-coating, I believe. This was a fast read for me. I was engaged in the story from beginning to end and see this as a true, comi ...more
Aleks Prenkiewicz
I liked this book alot. It showed how a poor girl that barely had anything in life succeeded at the end. It also explained the hardships that she went through trying to adjust to life in the US. Also i liked this book because I was able to connect to it alot. I liked the book mostly because the girl Esmeralda was new to a country, had to adjust, face difficulties and never gave up on anything even when no one wanted to accept her to be an actor or be a part of a play.
''Almost A woman'' by Esmeralda Santiago is an inspiring book. The memoir starts off by introducing us to the 13-year-old Esmeralda. She and her family had just moved from Puerto Rico to Brooklyn, New York. She tells us of the difficulties of fitting at school and a new country. Since she didn't speak English everything was a challenge for example helping her mother through economic times. Being the oldest of her siblings, her strict mother forbid her to date and had high expectations for her. A ...more
"Almost A Woman" by Esmeralda Santiago was a very detailed and fascinating story to read as Esmeralda told of being a young girl coming to America from Puerto Rico. Esmeralda or "Negi" as she is known in the book, faces the rough changes coming from Puerto Rico to Brooklyn, New York. Esmeralda wanted to learn the ropes of being a regular American girl but her mom was on her back, which kept her in the tradition and culture of being a Puerto Rican girl. Through out the book spreading her wings an ...more
David Rohlfing
Having read Santiago's WHEN I WAS PUERTO RICAN and this book, I think ALMOST A WOMAN is a much better book. Well, it's a more pleasurable book to read because this covers her life as a teen and young adult in New York (WHEN I WAS is about her childhood in Puerto Rico). Maybe I should just say that both are great books, but I found ALMOST A WOMAN more interesting to me.
Santiago does a wonderful job in retelling the story of herself as a young girl coming to age. Her memoire is blunt, funny, and even sad at times. Her voice is that of a friend reminiscing her childhood. Her honesty is refreshing and her style very entertaining. This was a wonderful sequel to her memoire, When I was Puerto Rican.
Sabrina Vega
The book "Almost a Woman" by Esmeralda Santiago is an inspirational book. Not only to young Hispanics but to young teenagers as well.Esmeralda Santiago a strong minded educated Puerto Rican trying to find her way into New York.Throughout her journey she notices the racism when it comes time to looking for jobs.Loses people she would never expect to lose but in return gains lots of siblings. With 11 siblings in 3 bed room apartments , she does everything she could to strive and reach her dreams. ...more
Since I had read the first book, I was anxious to read of the family and their New York life.
Living seemed to continue to be a challenge, always moving. Esmeralda was gutsy and made her way.
She did learn from her mom to be careful. The friend she made at work turned to be good as she had another person she could identify with. I was a bit surprised about the affair w/the older man, altho since there were no attachments included, perhaps it was a good "choice". Her mother was not a good role mode
Delilah San
In my opinion I didn't really like the book, only because it was not as i expected it to be. Esmeralda travels completely through about 10 years of her life. I was expecting her to explain what she went through in only her young teenage years, since the book is called Almost A Women. It was not the only thing that i didn't like of the book, the book is not really the type of book i like. I wanted the book to be more interesting when it came to her relationship with her mother, and even the exper ...more
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Infinitely better than When I Was Puerto Rican, especially in her use of Spanish and her avoidance of over-explaining Puerto Rican culture and customs which was common in her first memoir, but still kind of awkwardly written and far from sufficient reflection.
Mary S.
Is on page 150
Negi has a secret life while a sleep as like a dream, she would do whatever she wanted and think how she wanted. She would feel free.she became an American in those dreams. I know i would dream the same if i wasn't American Negi wants to loose her puerto rican accent. Negi realizes how much her mom has done for them. Negi becomes ashamed of where they live. Negi starts thinking about guys. After Negi's mom starts to feel better after the death of her boyfriend she takes Negi out to
Wildaa (:
Negii (as her family calls her) comes to New York at age 13. Her mom and dad are seperated, she has ALOT of brothers and sisters, and she doesnt speak fluent english. She makes it through middle school and high school with dreams of becoming an actress. She lives with her mom most of her life. She dates many men much older than her. She's proposed to twice. She dates a heroin abuser, an actor, a pornography director, and alot more men. She's a virgin until she's a woman of about 19, and she lose ...more

Almost a Woman begins after thirteen-year-old Esmeralda and her family have moved to Brooklyn from Puerto Rico. Their father has decided to stay on the island, leaving Mami to raise her eight (eventually eleven) children on her own. The book is as much about Esmeralda's entry into womanhood over the next eight years as it is about Mami's struggle to support her family in a foreign, often hostile, culture. In the end, Esmeralda leaves her mother's house to move to Florida with a love interest, re
11/2012: I LOVE how this author writes! She writes in such a swift way that the story moves right along but you don't feel as if anything is skipped or like anything is missing. It's like writing streamlined and yet with depth. She has an interesting life story but not so strange or different that you feel like you couldn't relate to some of her reactions or emotions. I really enjoyed this book and may read some fiction she wrote also.

Fall 2012: This author is so great. I've only read the first
Loved, loved it !!!!! Read it several times and given it as gifts
Kelley Ross
This is the biography of a girl who came from Puerto Rico to America when she was young. The story follows her and her family (which quickly grows as child after child is born), and their quest to become American, and yet stay Puertorican. The author describes her awkward transition from childhood into womanhood with amazingly realistic, memorable stories that are easy and fun to read. Sometimes funny, sometimes depressing, this book is a wonderful tale of immigrants and their views on culture, ...more
While a good second part of my favorite memoir and a portrayal of the Puerto Rican experience in NYC, I thought the translator lost some of the Jibaro/Boricua flavor in the language that was very much present in the first book and which made it heart warming to me. Still it is understandable why it would happen as Esmeralda in this book finds herself immersed in State Side/American culture where some of her island quirks begin to be replaced by her new life.
Wilmalie Aguilar
I loved this book. It connected to my life a lot. Its an autobiography about Esmeralda Santiago and how she moved from Puerto Rico. Since it was her first time living in New York she went through a lot. But she achieved everything she put her mind to. She didn't live with her father so not having support from one of her other parents was heartbreaking. Her mom was always with her by her side and she had other people that were proud of her as well.
This is kind of a sequel to When I was Puerto Rican, it's the continuation of Esmeralda quest to become "American". Her story is so heartwarming, and relatable to me as a Nyuerican. It amazed me that her mother continued to have so many children when it was so obvious how poor they were. This story is the true American dream, Esmeralda worked hard and achieved so much, not bad for a jibara from PR.
Sky Rodriguez
Esmeralda Santiago shared her story of moving from Puerto Rico to the busy and hectic streets of Brooklyn. She tells of her journey through some of middle school, high school, and the many jobs she attainded. The detailed explanations of the smells of foods and the ways she described her mother reminded me of the time I was in Puerto Rico. I could really relate to Esmeralda and I enjoyed this book.
I really like her first book-"when I was Puerto Rican," however I was disappointed in this book.
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Esmeralda Santiago (born 1948 in San Juan, Puerto Rico). Is a renowned Puerto Rican author In 1961, she came to the United States when she was thirteen years old, the eldest in a family that would eventually include eleven children. Ms. Santiago attended New York City's Performing Arts High School, where she majored in drama and dance. After eight years of part-time study at community colleges, sh ...more
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“In the twenty-one years I lived with my mother, we moved at least twenty times.” 2 likes
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