When I was Puerto Rican
Santrauka: The questions and discussion topics that follow are designed to enhance your group's reading of Esmeralda Santiago's When I Was Puerto Rican. We hope they will provide you with a number of ways of looking at--and talking about--this beautiful narrative of a young girl's coming-of-age in 1950s Puerto Rico and of her subsequent move to the very different world of New York City. Santiago describes herself and her family with affection and sadness. She sees the beauty as well as the poverty in the Puerto Rican countryside where she spent her childhood, and she writes of her hardworking mother, her errant, romantic father, and their wrenching love-hate relationship, with pain but without judgment. Santiago's chronicle of her Puerto Rican childhood and her family's move to the alien and frightening new world of New York City is a unique story of the survival of a strong individual, but it also gives insight into the lives of thousands of immigrants to this country. While remaining very much a part of the world they left behind, these immigrants are faced with a new language, a new culture, and new expectations and codes of conduct. Santiago's narrative touches upon a number of issues that are currently the subject of intense debate in the United States: immigration quotas, cultural imperialism, bilingual education, birth control, and many others. Though Santiago provides no answers, she does give American readers a broader base of empathy and information with which to examine these problems.