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The Time It Snowed in Puerto Rico: A Novel Hardcover – August 11, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Crown (August 11, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 030746007X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307460073
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #840,936 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

McCoy's unaffected, conversational debut sketches a year and a half in the life of Verdita Ortiz-Santiago, a Puerto Rican girl whose fascination with America overshadows her quiet life. The book opens in 1961, with Verdita's 11th birthday party, perhaps her last occasion of guileless joy. An indulged only child, Verdita gets a shock when, a few months later, she learns that her parents are expecting a baby: I hated it, the baby.... And I despised them for making it. Her fears that the baby will be a boy force her to confront the deeply patriarchal society in which she lives; she also uses the opportunity, in a more typical fashion, to aim all her anger and confusion at her mother (proud of her growing breasts, she's also ashamed of becoming more like Mama). Though McCoy's lyrical writing is absorbing, Verdita's trials are largely unexceptional (including a disastrous attempt to go blonde and taking on more responsibility, especially after the baby's birth), and her parents are underdeveloped, making this coming-of-age story a slight addition to the crowded genre. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School—Maria Flores Ortiz-Santiago, known to her family and friends as Verdita, has spent 11 happy years in her peaceful Puerto Rico neighborhood. One night, she witnesses her parents making love, and her world irrevocably changes. She cannot look her mother in the eye after seeing her in such an exposed position. It takes months, a botched bleached-blond hairdo, and her mother's near death in childbirth before Verdita begins to understand her parents' love for one another and for her. The book is ripe with the lush island's landscape, culture, and foods, as well as the political upheaval of the 1960s. Verdita's experience, though, is universal, as she must reconcile both the passion she witnesses and the changes in her own body with a child's perspective of the world. McCoy's intoxicating novel is perfect for multicultural literature classes and best compares with Sandra Cisneros's The House on Mango Street (Knopf, 1994) and Julia Alvarez's How the García Girls Lost Their Accents (Penguin, 1992).—Sarah Krygier, Fairfield Civic Center Library, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

More About the Author

SARAH McCOY is the New York Times, USA Today and international bestselling author of the novels THE BAKER'S DAUGHTER (Crown), a 2012 Goodreads Choice Award Nominee; THE TIME IT SNOWED IN PUERTO RICO (Random House), "The Branch of Hazel: a novella" in GRAND CENTRAL (Penguin, July 2014) and THE MAPMAKER'S CHILDREN (Crown, May 2015).

Sarah's work has been featured in Real Simple, The Millions, Your Health Monthly, Huffington Post and other publications. She has taught English writing at Old Dominion University and at the University of Texas at El Paso. She currently lives with her husband and dog, Gilbert, in El Paso, Texas, where she is working on her next novel.

You can find out more about her books at her website or reach her on Twitter and Facebook.

Customer Reviews

An extremely well written story with a wonderful cast of characters.
deb B
The pacing and flow of the story along with the author's ability to create such real and authentic characters is something I expect from a seasoned writer.
BookFinds
This book would be great for a book report it was about 200 pages so it didn't take long to read.
C. Garrett

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Tara VINE VOICE on October 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I do not normally go for books about adolescent or pre teen characters, but the Puerto Rican setting and promise of the island's history compelled me to read this. I am glad I did. I enjoyed it even tho the main character, Verdita is only eleven and twelve throughout the novel. Verdita is a growing girl residing in the Puerto Rican countryside in 1970s. Thru her eyes, readers get an engrossing look at Puerto Rican/United States relations, cockfighting, family customs, and food. While getting a bit of an education, readers also experience Verdita's growing pains. She is discovering and having mixed emotions about the opposite sex and is curious about what goes on between men and women. She is going thru an I HATE MY MOTHER phase and towards the end of the novel, feels guilt for wishing her mother and her unborn baby brother/sister dead because it looks like that just might happen. Verdita is also feeling shame for her island heritage and brown skin as everywhere she looks billboards are advertising pale faced, blonde women as the idea of beauty. Will Verdita ever be happy with who and what she is?

A plesant, one day read. Bears a similiarity to Esmeralda Santiago's "When I Was Puerto Rican."
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Christina B. on November 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover
In "The Time It Snowed in Puerto Rico," the young Verdita details her "coming of age" in Puerto Rico. She deals with her burgeoning awareness of sexuality, her ambivalence about her parents, and her desire to look and be American.

This book was presented as following in the tradition of "The House on Mango Street" and "Annie John." Although McCoy attempts to capture the bildungsroman and lyrical nature of more famous "island" literature, her slim book just doesn't capture the spirit or life of her predecessors.

Verdita goes through the surprises and shock of sexual growth in a way that feels done and trite. Her irrational anger at her mother and attachment to her father during this time felt confusing rather than indicative of puberty. The parents are confusing figures, and it's uncertain what their motivations or feelings really are.

Verdita's beginning awareness of her sexuality and her desire to be "Americanized" are only half-explored, and the hopefulness with which the novels ends didn't feel in sync with the rest of the novel.

"The Time It Snowed in Puerto Rico" is a quick read, but it offers nothing new.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By bothellbuyer on April 18, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
I enjoy reading books set in another culture (Puerto Rico). I know enough Spanish to help me through a book where that language is used frequently. I should probably note that those without a ready knowledge of basic Spanish might be frustrated. This was a fast read, but a bit disappointing. I enjoyed The Baker's Daughter: A Novel by the same author, so took a peek at her other works, and thought this one sounded interesting. A coming-of-age story set in another country. I picked it up at the library since the kindle price was above my target price. There were issues in the story that confused me. The daughter's feelings about her mother did not make sense to me. I don't know....I did enjoy the book but thought it could have been so much more.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By LeftTurnLady on April 25, 2011
Format: Paperback
If you're looking for an enjoyable coming-of-age story that transports you to 1960's Puerto Rico I highly recommend this debut novel by Sarah McCoy.

Conflicts abound for 11-year old Verdita as her safety net of childhood starts to unravel and she begins the transition to adulthood. Not only is Verdita struggling with the physical changes to her body, but she is also struggling with her alternating child and adult viewpoints of the conflicts that surround her - politics, parents, traditions. family and more.

Though serious issues are dealt with throughout the book, the tale is woven with such care that it was a light-hearted romp, preventing this reader from feeling weighed down. Instead, I was anxious to turn the page to see what would happen next and how Verdita would view and react to whatever unfolded.

The author's love and knowledge of her family's home country is clearly evident as vivid pictures of the beliefs, traditions and life of Puerto Rico fill every page. This knowledge also helped create a character that even the author has called "saucy". And like good sauces, Verdita oozes everywhere, even into nooks and crannies where she shouldn't be. She's at times sweet and creamy and at other times spicy, but Verdita is always interesting, which makes this book a fun read!

Pick it up, turn to page 1 and let the fun begin!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By lampshade327 on March 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a very well written book about a young girl growing up in Puerto Rico who is going through a period of intellectual and personal growth as she learns more about herself and the world around her. It is a relatively quick read and easy read that would be perfect for a classroom setting as a book used to focus on self-realization and the cultural influence of Puerto Rico. I am looking forward to the sequel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lady by the Lake on April 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you loved reading A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN by Betty Smith when you were young, then you will love reading THE TIME IT SNOWED IN PUERTO RICO! I remember reading A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN and feeling the pains of being a family with Francie. As I read THE TIME IT SNOWED IN PUERTO RICO I had flashbacks of my own growing up and the timeless feeling of being part of a family with Verdita. I became engrossed with her character as I once did with Francie. I wondered for days what Verdita could be doing in Washington, D.C.? Where could she be living? Did she get a job? How did she overcome her feeling of wanting to be "Americanized?" I still wonder... I do hope that the author is considering a sequel!
With Puerto Rico still trying to find her place in America's family, this book becomes relevant to its readers. I do hope that students of history, sociology and cultural studies will delve into the underlining thoughts of Puerto Ricans as they read McCoy's book. Not only does this bring to mind the Puerto Rican politics of the day but also the smells and colors of every day living! It is wonderful to know that our country is still being blessed by great authors!
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