Almost A Woman is the follow-up book to When I Was Puerto Rican, by Esmeralda Santiago. Almost A Woman was published in 1998, but I have had it on my bookshelf to read for years. I was so engrossed in this book that it took me one day to read all 311 pages of it. In this book Esmeralda goes into more detail about her first seven years in Brooklyn. As much as her family frustrated her, they were the most important people to her. While I would never advise any woman to have eleven children all out-of-wedlock, Mami is a woman I admire very much. I admire the dedication with which she raised her children. I also admire the fact that even though Pablo Santiago never married her, she insisted that her children honor and respect him as their father. You see this more in Esmeralda’s first book, but since I did not mention it there, I wanted to be sure to write it here. Mami tells her children that no matter what happened between her and Pablo, they were to respect and care for their father. He was a good father to them while they lived in Puerto Rico.
What is missing from both books are photos of Esmeralda’s family. The images of both book covers are that of Esmeralda, but since this book really draws you into her story and life, you cannot help but yearn to see the rest of her family as well.
Like the first book, Almost A Woman brought so many memories of my life growing up in Brooklyn after immigrating here from Panama. The ending of the book seemed a bit abrupt and incomplete. The book starts off by informing you that after ten years, Mami was moving back to Macun, and that Esmeralda was moving to Cambridge to attend Harvard. I assumed that as the story progressed that the author would explain what led up to her Mom’s decision to return to Puerto Rico, and want led her to decide to go to Harvard. However, this is not the cast at all, and I cannot help feeling that important parts of the story was missing.
I realized today that there is a third book continuing Esmeralda’s memoirs. It is titled The Turkish Lover, and I just ordered it from Amazon. This third book was published in 2004.