Hello readers! I’m so excited to review Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez as part of my stop in the Algonquin Blog tour. It’s my new favorite book, I won’t stop talking about it, and it´s been chosen to be the next book for Reese Witherspoon’s YA Book Club!! Before getting into the review please note that I’ll be discussing femicides, no spoilers and nothing graphic but please be careful since this topic is a delicate one!
And also thank you so much to Algonquin for including me in this tour and providing a free review copy 🙂
An #ownvoices contemporary YA set in Argentina, about a rising soccer star who must put everything on the line—even her blooming love story—to follow her dreams.
In Rosario, Argentina, Camila Hassan lives a double life.
At home, she is a careful daughter, living within her mother’s narrow expectations, in her rising-soccer-star brother’s shadow, and under the abusive rule of her short-tempered father.
On the field, she is La Furia, a powerhouse of skill and talent. When her team qualifies for the South American tournament, Camila gets the chance to see just how far those talents can take her. In her wildest dreams, she’d get an athletic scholarship to a North American university.
But the path ahead isn’t easy. Her parents don’t know about her passion. They wouldn’t allow a girl to play fútbol—and she needs their permission to go any farther. And the boy she once loved is back in town. Since he left, Diego has become an international star, playing in Italy for the renowned team Juventus. Camila doesn’t have time to be distracted by her feelings for him. Things aren’t the same as when he left: she has her own passions and ambitions now, and La Furia cannot be denied. As her life becomes more complicated, Camila is forced to face her secrets and make her way in a world with no place for the dreams and ambition of a girl like her.
Buy Furia! Out now 🙂
For of all, this book had caught my eye a few months ago when the cover had been first revealed. And then when I read the synopsis and found out it was set in Argentina and it followed Camila and her dream of becoming a professional football player I was hooked! 10 year old me found herself screaming because I had played the same sport and on occasion the same filed position, striker, as Camila. And then when I was invited to the tour I was overwhelmed with happiness.
I went into Furia thinking I was going to read a fun coming of age and sporty book, but I got so much more. I got social justice, the fight against machismo, misogyny, and women’s rights. I think these topics are so delicate and need to be handled correctly, and I think Yamile was able to do that. She shows the reader the cruel reality, but also how important it is to come together with woman and stand for what you believe in. At the end of the day soccer or football is a sport that’s male centered in many countries including my own, and to just see a team of all girls fighting for a spot in the international cup shows that it’s possible to break any barriers in front of you.
I found myself having to stop every few chapters because of how emotional I was getting, it’s a book you can’t read in one sitting, it’s better to digest and take in the situation that Argentina, and many other countries live in. Where girls go missing every day, and you see on the news how they may be found but so many other aren’t.
This book meant so much to me, but not just me at this age, but 10 year old me that wanted to read a story about a soccer player living her dream and showing that girls can fight just as hard as boys can. 16 year old me found herself in this book when Camila was fighting for her dreams not letting anyone or anything step in her way.
But most importantly 20 year old me found a character that was just as scared as I was when walking down the streets during the night, a character that wanted justice just as much as I did for every woman or girl who was affected by such intense levels of machismo. But also 20 year old me found herself for once not feeling numb to the reality, in a way you have to numb yourself because if you don’t you’ll become terrified to go outside and live your life freely. That’s why it’s so important to have stories like Camila’s to make people face the reality that so many girls are being killed for saying no.
As the story goes on you find yourself holding on to every word, every page, and every scene because of how they convey power and inspiration. Camila is an incredibly strong character that doesn’t let anyone steer her from what she wants, she fights for what she believes in till the very end. She’s such an inspiration and after you close the book you feel unstoppable. As if a piece of her lives in you.
I can’t put into words what this story as a whole means to me, it’s such an incredible read. From getting to read about my culture in this, simple things like mate, bolitas de fraile, expressions like boludo, something being so expensive that it costs an egg (yes this is an actual thing we say no, eggs aren’t expensive but I can’t tell you why we say it) these are all things that I see in my daily life and I’ve never seen in a book before. But also seeing a character so headstrong into getting what she wants and working hard for it. Everything in this book leaves you feeling so much more in control of your life, and I can’t recommend it enough, it’s now one of my mot favorite reads of the year, if not my top read of 2020.
About the Author
Yamile (sha-MEE-lay) Saied Méndez is a fútbol-obsessed Argentine American who loves meteor showers, summer, astrology, and pizza. She lives in Utah with her Puerto Rican husband and their five kids, two adorable dogs, and one majestic cat. An inaugural Walter Dean Myers Grant recipient, she’s a graduate of Voices of Our Nations (VONA) and the MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Méndez is also part of Las Musas, the first collective of women and nonbinary Latinx middle grade and young adult authors. Furia is her first novel for young adult readers.