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Almost a Woman Paperback – September 7, 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1st Vintage Books ed edition (September 7, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 037570521X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375705212
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #621,291 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This sequel to the story of Santiago's childhood (When I Was Puerto Rican) covers her life as an adolescent and young woman when she lived in Brooklyn, New York, with her mother (Mami) and 10 siblings during the 1960s. Puerto Rican immigrants, the family suffered through periods of poverty exemplified by the author's trips to the welfare office with Mami, where she translated her mother's Spanish so that they could obtain benefits. Santiago's good humor, zest for life and fighting spirit permeate her chronicle and moderate the impact of the hard times she describes. She studied acting at the prestigious Performing Arts Public High School and, despite feeling out of place because of her heritage, Santiago was able to obtain work in a children's theater and had a small role in the film Up the Down Staircase. Mami prevented her from dating until she was 17, but Santiago details several romantic involvements, including an affair with a Turkish filmmaker. Forced to lose her Puerto Rican accent to widen her acting range, Santiago never lost her connection to Mami, her family and her heritage, and her love for them all shines through this engaging memoir.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This book continues the life story that Santiago began in When I Was Puerto Rican (LJ 9/15/93). After her family's arrival in New York City, Santiago faced the difficult process of assimilation. As the oldest of eight children, she led her siblings in exploring the new culture and opportunities available to them. Santiago's memoir traces her personal growth through her teenage years; she describes her relationships with her family, her early dating experiences, and her first sexual encounters. In the end, she strikes a tenuous balance between her traditional, family-oriented culture and the new world of mainstream American society. Santiago's descriptive prose and lively dialog draw the reader in; we are reminded of the pains and pleasures of adolescence and wonder what happens next in her life. For literary memoir collections.AGwen Gregory, New Mexico State Univ., Las Cruces
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

Very realistic book and writing.
Lourdes I. Luccioni
You won't come away feeling satisfied with what happens to the "characters," nor will you care halfway in.
David
This is her second memoir, and though I haven't read the first one, I found this quite interesting.
Black Plum

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 19, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I loved Santiago's first book (When I Was Puerto Rican) and I love this one too. Almost a Woman is a memoir about coming of age in New York City. It is also about the struggle to find her own identity among a large family and a domineering but loving mother. Even though I am not an immigrant or Puerto Rican I found this book very compelling and hard to put down. I only hope Santiago will write a third memoir so I can find out how she gets to Harvard, what happens to her mother, brothers and sisters, if she sees her father again and what happens to her lover. Santiago has become one of my favorite authors!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 2, 1998
Format: Hardcover
I highly recommend the book to anyone who read and loved "When I was Puerto Rican". It contines Santiago's journey as a young woman in New York where she recounts her double life -- one foot in Brooklyn speaking Spanish with her close-knit Puerto Rican family, and the other foot in Manhattan, speaking accent-less English while trying to become an actress and find love.
The book is beautifully written and well paced. I recommend it especially to anyone who is first-generation American -- the places and culture may be different from your experience, but the issues are the same.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By eviewin@aol.com on May 3, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Esmeralda Santiago did it again. She captivated me with her raw expression of experience. In some ways this book read like a soap opera, once you read one chapter you couldn't wait to move on to the rest of the juicy details. In some parts shocking but painfully real. I can't wait to get another one of her books. It's like having a kindred spirit in her. I'm very grateful that I discovered this author. She has sent me on a wonderful journey in reading.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By nfalcon@tld.net or Nydia Falcon on October 6, 1998
Format: Hardcover
I received this book last week after hurricane George hit our beautiful island and I could not put it down. I loved reading "When I was a Puerto Rican", but this one I enjoyed so much more. It was great reading about her change from child to woman. I come from a family of seven children, I am the oldest and I identified with her, specially the way they wanted us to marry in church but we don't visit church and things like that. I live very close to her "barrio Macum", I visited it and told some of the people their that they had to read her book. Esmeralda Santiago describes her upbringing with such candor that I even imagine her story in a movie or mini-series.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 26, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This was the first book by Santiago that I have read. It certainly will not be my last. She paints such an honest portrait of herself and her family, and she does so without sounding self-promoting or inordinately humble. Anyone who enjoys a good coming-of-age story should read this book. Warning: you will find yourself wanting to yell at the book, to give words of worldly wisdom to young Esmeralda at various crossroads in her life.
The actual writing (style) is tops!!!! I can't say any more than that. Well, except that it ended too soon. I want to know how she gets to Harvard. I just know this is a set up for volume three.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By D. Pawl VINE VOICE on October 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
I suggest that you read the prequel to this book, "When I Was Puerto Rican," simply for transition into the life of Esmeralda Santiago. Santiago, a woman who came from a desolate background in Puerto Rico, arrived in the United States with her mother ("Mami") and her numerous younger brothers and sisters. As the book evolves, the household grows, as the family must move from house to house, and utilize the welfare system to make ends meet. Esmeralda ("Negi") is the oldest of ten brothers and sisters, must help care for them, balance work, school and her aspirations as a young actress, all the while, translating for her mother at the welfare office. How this young woman managed to balance all of these factors, and triumph, is a true inspiration to readers, young and old. We also get a real sense of her bicultural struggle, to assimilate into U.S. culture, while maintaining ties to her Puerto Rican heritage, and an ethnic "other" (neither black, nor white, but brown).

What is especially compelling about the style of this sequel, is that we get a sense of Esmeralda Santiago's conflict as a young woman, as a daughter and as an aspiring artist, looking for an outlet for her gift as an actress. Though, she was not allowed to date until the age of seventeen, and continued to live at home until the age of twenty-one, this did not stop her from embarking in love affairs that taught her about life and herself. This is truly a part of coming of age that we all can relate to, and will touch readers from all backgrounds. I really reccomend this novel...You won't be disappointed.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 14, 2002
Format: Paperback
Almost a Woman portrays the life of author Esmeralda Santiago as a 13-year-old girl who has just moved to the United States from Puerto Rico. She arrives with Mami and 3 siblings while her father stays in her homeland. Thrown into a new culture, "Negi," as called by family, must face the challenges of finding herself while under the watchful eye of her strict mother as well as the scrutiny of New York. Negi is the eldest in a family that eventually includes 11 children; she becomes the one to interpret to welfare agents for the family's needs while trying to protect the family's dignity. She is accepted into the Performing Arts High School in Manhattan under the drama program and goes on to participate in several plays, including one on broadway. As she continues to search for roles, she takes classes at a local college where she meets Shoshana. They become best friends and share their lives with each other. Shoshana plays an important role in Negi's search for identity as well as belonging. The reader is present at Negi's first date and her quest to find true love through many out of the ordinary encounters and heartbreak. I highly recommend this novel to anyone who would enjoy the chronicles of a young girl who is placed in an infamiliar place while searching for who she is. It is easy reading and enjoyable to watch how Negi approaches situations and love.
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