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Publisher's Summary

Esta es una historia de la migración latina desde Puerto Rico hacia Estados Unidos. Se trata de un fenómeno particular, ya que la isla es un estado libre asociado a los Estados Unidos.

Esmeralda Santiago era una niña en el seno de una familia numerosa en una zona rural de Puerto Rico. En aquel entonces, la vida estaba en orden. Pero cuando su hermano menor sufre un accidente y los padres se separan, la madre se lleva a Esmeralda, de trece años, y sus seis hermanos menores a Estados Unidos. Se van en busca de un tratamiento médico para el chico accidentado y de una mejor vida.

Entonces empieza para ella la verdadera vida. Desenraizada de su casa y su entorno, Nueva York se le presenta como una amenaza, como un sitio desconocido y como un reto. Ella se crece ante la adversidad, aprende inglés en tiempo récord y se gradúa de Harvard.

Este audiolibro está narrado en primera persona por la autora misma, una mujer que, con el paso del tiempo, ha perdido su identidad original, pero que está decidida a recuperarla mediante un ejercicio de memoria. La autora lee sus propias memorias y reflexiones, con una voz tersa y dulce pero también firme, que refleja el sentimiento de puertorriqueidad que está buscando.

Publicado en 1994, Cuando era puertorriqueña ha estado desde entonces en la lista de libros imprescindibles. Además de que se ha llevado al teatro, ha servido de guía para el más de medio millón de puertorriqueños que han emigrado desde 2010 en un éxodo ininterrumpido y para muchos latinos más que han ido a buscar fortuna a los Estados Unidos. 

Please note: This audiobook is in Spanish. Este audiolibro es en Espanol.

©1993 Esmeralda Santiago (P)2007 Recorded Books, LLC

What listeners say about Cuando Era Puertorriquena (Texto Completo) [When I was Puerto Rican ]

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Babo Wright
  • 2012-02-28

Enjoyable and beautifully narrated

This is the first great book in Spanish I have found on Audible -a wonderfully detailed story of a young girl growing up in Puerto Rico. I took a risk on this one and am glad I did. How often can an author narrate their own work? Esmeralda Santiago is both a great author and narrator.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • JeanneEliz
  • 2008-12-16

Touching

This book held my interest and was very enjoyable. Unlike the other reviewers, I'm not from Puerto Rico but have been learning Spanish and purchased the book in order to practice reading in that language.
I was fascinated with the story and couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen next. There was humor throughout and the author had a unique way of reacting to things. She and I graduated from high school in the same year (as it turns out) and I could relate to some of the history in the book and the family stories were also quite moving.
I did feel as though the author sometimes seemed to feel a little "picked on" but that didn't detract from the story at all. She was also completely impressive and intelligent and lived a life far different from my own. I loved the book and learned lots of Spanish along the way. The story was quite touching and I'm looking forward to reading anything I can by Esmeralda Santiago.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Lylye
  • 2008-12-05

Excellent

From the time I heard the way the author described the feel and smell of a "guayaba", I was in awe. As a puertorican myself, this book just brought to mind all those stories, most of them sad, of other family members leaving your island behind and try to make a better life.How they struggled to hold on to their customs in strange land and not get swallowed by their adoptive one.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Miriam
  • 2007-11-21

takes you back in time

Listening to Esmeralda Santiago tell this story took me back to when I was Puerto Rican. I was 5 yrs old when I first came to NY and now at 55 yrs old I can still remember a few things from Puerto Rico and the school days here in NY. The time when I was also put back a grade because I didn't speak English.
If you want to relive those good old days when you was Puerto Rican I would buy this book and the one that follows "Casi una mujer" which I am about to do as soon as I post this review. God Bless, Miriam

4 people found this helpful

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  • Maritza Garcia
  • 2019-11-10

The stories of my childhood

This book has been so meaningful to me both Spanish and English versions. The English version I read in 1998 and instantly fell in love with every word. It made me see my grandmother’s life and my mother’s life in a completely new way. I knew the stories but they really came to life when I read the book. Now I’m 2019 I listened to the Spanish Version with delight because I can hear the Spanish of my youth. How I miss listening to my grandmother’s voice and other family members in their native Puerto Rican accents.
The story is still just as fresh and enjoyable to listen to but in Spanish it truly took me on a more personal Journey.
I recommend this book to any Puerto Rican family that grew up hearing the stories of life before the great migration to NY.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Christina
  • 2019-10-27

Me encantó

Al escuchar el libro, recordé a mi abuelita y a mi mamá pensando en los retos similares que pasaron en los Estados Unidos. Es una forma espectacular de recordar a Puerto Rico, conocer sobre su historia y unirse al grupo que habla dos idiomas y piensa en español e inglés.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Elizabeth Arias
  • 2007-12-06

Great Read

This book brings back my own childhood memories of growing up Puerto Rican in Brooklyn. I loved it!

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Hans Gaston
  • 2018-08-07

Puerto Rican goodness for the heart

This book will fill you and warm your heart like a good "asopao de pollo". Santiago presents a Puerto Rico that is mostly forgotten by those of my generation yet the narratives she presents throughout her memoir seem terribly familiar. For those of us who have grown up in Puerto Rican homes, we know what a "cocotazo" is, or can relate to many of the old wive's tales presented throughout the book. Make sure to let Santiago's voice take you on a trip through 20th century Puerto Rico.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Tez L
  • 2012-05-29

Good, interesting

What did you love best about Cuando Era Puertorriquena (Texto Completo) [When I was Puerto Rican ]?

I loved hearing about what it was like in Puerto Rico, the family life, and the naive observances of Esmeralda (naive because she was young, and so described in that way). I also loved hearing about the US through the eyes of a young girl in Puerto Rico. I'm several generations US citizen on both sides so when it comes to immigration, I have zero first hand experience and I really enjoyed listening to the story of how it came about for Esmeralda Santiago. It was all beautifully described and engaging.

Which scene was your favorite?

I loved hearing about what it was like once they got on the plane to the US. "All I could taste was salt." Compared to Puerto Rico, the only spice we seem to use is salt! It's very true. And I LOVED hearing about her experiences in the US school system, as a foreigner. It is something very foreign to me, as a white-bread type American, and I found it very interesting. I cried a few times in this part, not from sadness though. It was quite incredible.

Any additional comments?

I listened to this book in Spanish, it was very good. Upon finishing the only thing I wanted to do was go and buy the next installation, Almost a Woman. I haven't yet, mostly because it doesn't get great reviews, but I will someday. It's a well-written, well-performed memoir.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Virginia Cervantes
  • 2022-08-01

Strength and wisdom don’t come easy

Descriptive and honest look at a real family and it’s dynamics-the parents, the kids, even their neighbors. I liked being able to see the main character, at her best and worst. Not liking the responsibilities of her siblings. Sometimes clashing with her mother, trying not to need her. Sometimes being so grown and still wanting to be a child. Fantastic example of our Latino never give up-keep on going forward attitude. Loved her memories of Puerto Rico, the food, the things she missed.