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Almost a Woman

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4.11  ·  Rating details ·  2,495 ratings  ·  153 reviews
"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
...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published September 7th 1999 by Vintage (first published August 1st 1998)
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Average rating 4.11  · 
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 ·  2,495 ratings  ·  153 reviews


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Cynda
Santiago describes the pull of family, of school, career, and lovers. She has to make a decision. I understand her decision which pull she will respond to. I hope I would make the same decision.
Santiago describes the label she uses to refer to herself, "Puerto Rican", "that no longer works after she has been in US for awhile. She doesn't seem to be comfortable with "hispanic" either. She is torn between cultures and social classes (education, acting, and dancing) pull at her. She will have to
...more
Jacquelyn
Feb 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
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
...more
Tara Chevrestt
Sep 25, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
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
Lynnie
Mar 28, 2007 rated it really liked it
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.
Jenna
Feb 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Hannah
Nov 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: advisorybooks
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 ...more
Hannah
Oct 02, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Vanessa
Jul 13, 2010 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Melissa Andrews
Dec 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography-memoir
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
...more
René
Feb 19, 2017 rated it liked it
I liked this. I'm giving it fewer stars than I gave her first memoir, When I Was Puerto Rican, though because I was a bit less interested in this one than the other. There was a point when it seemed this one was dragging on with too many recollections of all her boyfriends and dating experiences. Her family also really receded in this one, in the last quarter of the book. Part of this was necessary for the storytelling I guess because of Esmeralda growing older and preparing herself to become ...more
Doreen
Aug 13, 2010 rated it liked it
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, ...more
KJ
Dec 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
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Aleks Prenkiewicz
Sep 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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.
Yvette
Oct 18, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, latin
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.
David Rohlfing
Sep 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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.
Kate
Jul 04, 2016 added it
Shelves: memoir
I loved the contrast between her Puerto Rican upbringing (with 11 siblings and a strict but unmarried mother) and her New York City/School of the Arts adolescent journey. She really helped me *feel* the richness and conflicts of her immigrant life.
Tyler Rosenberg
Jan 06, 2020 rated it liked it
The first few chapters went fairly slowly. I found that the first couple of chapters were hard to read because they weren't too intriguing. Some sections I think went too in depth and made me loose interest. However as the book went on, it became more interesting to read about Esmerelda's relation ship with her mother and the rest of her family. She talks about being the favorite child and the oldest. Although I can't relate to being the oldest, it was still captivating to read about her family ...more
Daphne
Jan 06, 2020 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Isabella Ciriello
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I had to read “Almost a Woman” for school and I honestly did not have high hopes because it is a memoir, but this book completely changed my perspective on this genre. The story has something for everyone, whether you’re an immigrant, have been bullied, have wanted to try something new, or just felt like an outsider. The book is beautifully well-written, captivating, exciting and moving. I highly recommend this book to all ages and backgrounds.
Jeffrey Dai
Jan 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Santiago's works flawlessly depict the very common woes of immigrants and their children. Family is the one thing that is constant in this story of womanhood, through trauma and success, becoming the origin of the storyteller inside herself. Torn between several personas and wanting to own their identity, Esmeralda tells tales of her childhood and many others by proxy, as she navigates the streets of New York and her own life.
Kaavya
Jan 06, 2020 rated it liked it
I had to read this book for school, and I enjoyed it. Santiago created a honest picture of what her life was as an immigrant. Family is important to her, and she portrays it in totality, without beating around the bush. I feel that everyone should read this book. Whether you are an immigrant, or have been bullied for who you are, this is the book for you.
Kimberleey
Mar 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
''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. ...more
LeeAngie
Mar 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
"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 ...more
Jeannette
Jan 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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 ...more
Sabrina Vega
Mar 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Wildaa (:
Oct 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Myrna
Apr 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
...more
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
...more
Mrs. Joseph
Mar 24, 2015 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book and thought Santiago's life was interesting and well told. Her family was full of chaos, love, laughter, and struggle. Despite her struggle to understand how to be Puerto Rican and a New Yorker at the same time, she never forgot who she was and what was most important. I did not love the ending when she becomes completely obsessed with and allows herself to be controlled by a man, but the title is "Almost a Woman" and these are some of the obstacles some face on their journey ...more
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Eclectic Readers: Almost a Woman 1 5 Apr 25, 2012 01:55PM  

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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, ...more
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“In the twenty-one years I lived with my mother, we moved at least twenty times.” 4 likes
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