Review: Furia

Title: Furia
Author: Yamile Saied Méndez
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Pages: 368
Review copy: Digital ARC via publisher
Availability: September 15, 2020

Summary: 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.

Review: Camila Hassan made me care about fútbol. She cares so much it was impossible not to get excited about the sport with her. Whether readers are big fans or not, they will likely be able to connect with Camila’s love for the sport. Many folks can understand the situation of wanting something so badly they’re willing to go to great lengths, even lying to family, to make things happen. And fútbol fans will likely find much to get excited about.

What I really appreciated about Furia is that it’s a solidly realistic story. This is not a rom-com with everything falling into Camila’s lap after a few mix-ups or cute interactions. It does have  some sweet, romantic, and funny moments, but this is truly what I’d call realistic fiction. There are difficult choices and maybe some other readers predicted everything, but I was not able to guess all of the twists and turns of the story.

Though fútbol is central to the plot, there is quite a bit more going on within her community and family. One thread is the disappearances and attacks on girls and women. There are specific beliefs about where and when respectable women and girls are meant to be and how they are to move through the world. In the eyes of many, there are any number of things that can ruin a girl’s reputation or invite unwanted and even deadly attention. Camila, along with her friends and family, must decide whether they will accept the status quo or work to create change. Supporting the feminist movement could have serious consequences such as being expelled from school or even physical threats.

The relationships in her family were also very interesting. Camila and her brother are close, but again, gender affects many aspects of their interactions. Her father was difficult, but Camila also has to work through her feelings about a mother who seems overly focused on her son and is unwilling or unable to stand up for her daughter.

Recommendation: Get it as soon as you can. Camila captured my heart with her passion and determination. She’s not waiting to be rescued. She’s not waiting for space to be made for her or to be invited to use her voice. She makes a way where it seems there is no way and you’ll want to see her in action.