When I Was Puerto Rican

Narrated by: Esmeralda Santiago
Length: 8 hrs and 16 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (98 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

“The jíbaro can never wash away the stain of the plantain,” declares Esmeralda “Negi” Santiago as she begins telling her story. In this poignant audiobook, the first volume of her memoirs, she explores what it means to be Puerto Rican in the United States.

Esmeralda Santiago reminisces about her childhood in Puerto Rico and her early years in Brooklyn as the oldest of seven (soon to be 11) children. Her upbringing is turbulent on account of her parents’ relentless fighting, which only ever seems to stop when they decide to have another baby. When her youngest brother has an accident, her mother decides to move to New York with her children to seek medical treatment. Arriving in the United States, 13-year-old Santiago experiences uprooting and a loss of identity while she tries to adapt to a culture and language that are foreign to her.

The author herself narrates the memoir, which provides an additional emotional element to the story. Hearing her talk about the taste, color and smell of guavas makes the listener almost feel the texture of the fruit on their lips. It’s inspiring to hear a female perspective of what it’s like to be an immigrant pursuing the American dream.

When I was Puerto Rican is not only the literary debut of an extraordinary author and an entertaining autobiography sprinkled with touches of humor, but it is also a cultural text. This listen’s themes are so relevant that many schools across the country include it in the curriculum. It has also been adapted for the stage on several occasions. 

©2006 Esmeralda Santiago (P)2018 CANTOMEDIA

What listeners say about When I Was Puerto Rican

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Praise

Esmeralda Santiago revives stories of her childhood, and enlivens the images through her tales. Her narration was exceptional.

4 people found this helpful

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Just SO good!

I’ve listened to more than seventy memoirs many narrated by the author, I’m a confirmed junkie of the genre!
Prior to this book Michele Obama held the #1 spot, now I think there’s a tie for first place. Ms Santiago is engaging, believable, honest and interesting. She is an excellent storyteller!
I have only one complaint about this book, it ended. I have already downloaded “Almost a Woman” and I’m starting it now!



2 people found this helpful

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I was there!!

loved how the author/narrator was able to take me back to my grandmorhers kitchen and beautiful island with her descriptive tongue! I wanna eat empanadas abd alcapurias now!

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Memories

Although I was.never born in Puerto Rico, the author's recall of her childhood reminded me of my mom's. My mother use to talk of her days in P.R. as a child but it was short lived when she too moved to NYC at 14 yrs old because her mom had passed away and she was sent to live with her father(my grandfather) and his new family.

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Beautiful. Just beautiful.

Truly a lovely read. This very detailed, beautifully read book gave me an insight into my mother, grandmother, and even my great grandmothers life from Puerto Rico as they settled into their new, assimilated life in NY in the 1950’s. I’m literally in tears, don’t want the book to end, and want to hear what happens next! Her children? Grandchildren? How and where are her brothers and sisters? Loved it!