A simultaneous Spanish-language edition, originally translated for Vintage by Nina Torres-Vidal
In her new memior, the acclaimed author of When I Was Puerto Rican continues the riveting chronicle of her life.
"Negi," as Santiago's family affectionately calls her, leaves rural Macun in 1961 to live in a three-bedroom tenement apartment with seven siblings, and inquisitive grandmother, and a strict mother who won't allow her to date. At thirteen, Negi yearns for her own bed, for privacy, and her father, who remains in Puerto Rico. Translating for Mami at the welfare office in the morning, starring as Cleopatra at New York's Performing Arts High School in the afternoon, and dancing salsa all night, she also seeks to find balance between being an American and Puerto Rican. When Negi defies her mother by going on a series of dates, she finds that independence brings challenges.
At once a universally poignant coming-of-age tale and a heartfelt immigrant's story, Almost a Woman is Santiago's triumphant journey into womanhood.
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. (Sept.)