September 16, 2002 12:00 PM

PBS (Sun., Sept. 15, 8 p.m. ET)

Though I admired the sincerity of this Masterpiece Theatre production, I was disappointed in its superficiality.

Adapted by Esmeralda Santiago from her 1998 memoir, the drama concerns the teen years of a girl nicknamed Negi (Ana Maria Lagasca), who moves from Puerto Rico to Brooklyn in 1961. While her mother (Wanda De Jesus from Blood Work) manages a brood that grows from seven to nine over time, Negi rises above family strains and language problems to graduate from Manhattan’s prestigious High School of Performing Arts. The film is flat and sketchy in showing Negi’s progress, so we take more interest in her mom’s ill-fated relationships with two men, gallant Francisco (Luis Garia) and shady Carlos (Francesco Quinn). There’s a passion in De Jesus’s performance that’s otherwise lacking in this rather studied remembrance.

Bottom Line: Middling success story

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