When I was Puerto Rican Review


I’ve never reviewed a memoir before. Honestly, I’ve never read a whole memoir before. This was a fun and new experience for me, which I believe is the purpose of this book. I’m looking into reading Esmeralda Santiago’s next memoir.

The memoir is about Santiago’s experience growing up in Puerto Rico with her siblings and parents. It follows her many moves due to her parent’s tumultuous relationship. It ends with her moving to New York. This book is a reflection of her childhood, connection to Puerto Rico, and immigration to New York.

Four Stars

This book is beautifully written with wonderful metaphors and imagery. It also reads so easily. It felt like a novel the way, as a reader I followed “Negi” grow up. Looking through her eyes at her world and her family is both fascinating as well as insightful. I can’t relate completely to Santiago, and I really appreciated that. I got to relate to her in some ways, but I also go to learn so much.

Her family dynamic was the most interesting part for me. The relationship between Negi and her mother is so complicated. I appreciated how they still loved each other even though they butt heads. She also has SO many siblings. Large families have always fascinated me, and I really enjoyed getting a look into the life of a large family from a different culture and geological location.

Santiago does such a wonderful job portraying her childhood. I loved the perspective of a child in this memoir. Santiago stays true to it without letting her present self interfere with what she thought as a child.

She also incorporates a lot of Spanish vocabulary into the story. I really enjoyed that. I felt it helped me better understand Negi and her family. I also really enjoy the Spanish language when I’m not being quizzed over it.

I learned so much through Negi’s story about Puerto Rico, her culture, and immigrating to the United States. It didn’t feel like it came at me with lessons to learn, but I learned simply by growing up with Negi and learning the lessons she did.

I don’t normally read memoirs, but this was a gorgeous read and I look forward to reading more of Santiago’s books. Maybe I’ll even start reading more memoirs.



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