Friday, September 11, 2020

Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez

Synopsis (via Goodreads): 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.

"Our country had legalized same-sex marriage way before the U.S., but prejudice didn't read or obey laws. It was a hard weed to pull from people's hearts."
I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

Furia was an amazing read that I thoroughly enjoyed! My soccer knowledge is limited, but coaching my son's team last year taught me a few things. ;) I've also been learning Spanish on the Duolingo App, which helped me understand some of the lovely language being used on and off throughout this book. It made me feel like my lessons were actually working, but I did have to Google certain words and phrases if I wanted exact translations. A lot could be guessed based on context, but I like to know exactly what is being said! I also love it when author's mix languages in their books - - it makes them feel more authentic and really fleshes out the setting. I felt like I was there in Rosario with Camila and the rest of the characters.

Soccer is Camila's passion, but it's also her biggest secret. Her father was a slimy, despicable piece of shit, and I really wish someone had stepped in to defend Camila, Pablo, and their mother. It wasn't like people were unaware of what happened during heated moments or behind closed doors, they just chose to look the other way. Although, I do appreciate how the author addressed that aspect of the story. One toxic person can influence the lives of multiple people, and they can affect them in very different ways. His not-so-subtle digs at his wife's weight, his daughter's body and personal choices, his son's career and expectations. I hated his character, but I also thought the author did a wonderful job portraying him and the hold he had over others.

Roxana was an amazing best friend, and she was always willing to help others. She thought a lot of people's situations and circumstances were unfair, and she wanted to fight to make things right. Her heart was huge, but that also made it easy to hurt, and we see Camila and Roxana struggle through an unexpected rift in their relationship. It wasn't that they stopped caring about each other, but they needed time to heal and clear the air.

Diego was adorable and I loved him. He never forgot where he came and appreciated his roots. He was always giving away whatever he could to help others, and enjoyed the simple pleasures in life (good food, good friends, walks around town, dancing in the street). His fame and fortune didn't make him selfish, but it did pull him in two different directions. He wanted the comforts of home, family, friends, but he also didn't want to give up the dream he was living either. I think that's one of the reasons he wanted to "save" Camila so much. If she went with him, it would have been like having his cake and eating it too. That's not to say he didn't care about her - - because he definitely did - - I just don't think he understood her drive and desires. She wanted something he already had, and she wanted to earn it for herself. He thought providing for her, helping her however he could, would make her happy, but that's not the life Camila wanted for herself.

I thought the author expertly handled the romance in this story, and I'm glad she didn't make Camila sacrifice a part of herself to make it work. Even when Diego was spontaneous and earnest, she held on to her dreams (although she did fantasize about others). Their feelings stemmed from a years-long friendship, and I liked that they revisited some of their childhood memories together. It helped me understand exactly what Camila would be giving up if she chose her dreams over her love for Diego. It was heartwarming and bittersweet, but expertly executed. I'm thrilled with how things ended for them both. 

My whole heart was invested in this story. The relationships Camila had and how they evolved over time, the hard work and determination she applied to becoming a professional soccer player, the love and respect she had for herself, and the cultural aspects of Argentina that I was unaware of. Méndez really brought Rosario to life with the details: vendors, people smoking on street corners, Camila feeling uneasy on the bus or walking alone. The author conveyed the way a single look could chill a person to the bone, or light them up from the inside. We see that words and actions matter. Intentions matter. Trust matters. We see children hungry for food and companionship, yet filled with a desire to become more than what they are. Furia truly was an evocative book, and one I'll likely never forget. (★★★★★)


  1. I've been hearing such good things about this one, and Reese Witherspoon just picked it for her book club!

    1. I saw that! It's only the second time she's picked a YA book, right? I'm so happy for the author! <3

  2. Adding it to Goodreads! Thanks for sharing you thoughts. I love soccer, so that gives the story some extra interest for me. 🏐✨

    1. Amazing story! I can't wait for you to read it! :)

  3. I thought this book was phenomenal and it was because Camila was force. The author did such a fantastic job making me feel and care and I was rewarded all along the way.

    1. Yes! She knew what she wanted and went for it, despite everyone and everything trying to get in her way. She knew Diego meant well, and she also deeply cared for him, but she still chose herself over everyone else. She kept pushing and reaching for her dreams, and I admired her tenacity and perseverance. I'm sure it felt overwhelming at times, but she didn't give up. She kept hoping, kept playing, and kept trying to make people's lives better.

  4. I just saw a review for this over at We Live and Breathe Books, and Sam loved it too! You guys have convinced me I need to read this one!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    1. I highly recommend this one!! It was an amazing read with wonderful characters.


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