Review: Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez

Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez

Yamile Saied Méndez
Algonquin Young Readers
Published September 15, 2020

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About Furia

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.

Furia on Goodreads

My Review

I remember really wanting to read this book when it came out. I haven’t read a lot of soccer books, and I’m not super familiar with the game, but that didn’t hinder my enjoyment of this book at all.

At the surface, this is a story of a girl who wants to win an important soccer tournament that could open doors for her to play on a professional team. She must balance school, an after-school job, family pressure, and the pull of romance with her passion for soccer. The team experiences trouble, from losses, injured players, and people forcing players to quit, so the stakes rise as the story progresses.

In the early chapters, the romance kind of dominated the story. I loved the relationship between Camila and Diego, so I didn’t mind this at all. It also allowed us to see the contrast between how Diego treated Camila and how her father and other men in her life treated women.

We still got to see a lot of scenes of Camila practicing and playing soccer, and I loved that, too. I felt like those scenes were very easy to follow, even for someone who isn’t super familiar with the game. I found it easy to lose myself in the intensity of the game and Camila’s fierce desire to win.

Underneath all of that, though, the author shares commentary on Argentinian culture. Not too long ago, it was illegal for women to play soccer. Even still, the players in the book faced enormous prejudice and pressure to quit. The story references how often girls disappear and how little law enforcement has done to address the problem. As a result, Camila worries for her safety when she has to be out at night and while she rides the bus. Sometimes family members use the danger as reason to squash her independence.

FURIA is definitely a book that swept in during the pandemic and didn’t get nearly as much notice as it should have. I think fans of YOU DON’T HAVE A SHOT by Racquel Marie or WITH THE FIRE ON HIGH by Elizabeth Acevedo will love this one.

Furia on Bookshop

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 14 up.

Camila is multi-racial, with a Russian great-grandmother, Pakistani grandfather, Andalusian grandmother and Black great-great-grandmother. She is also Argentinian and lives in Rosario.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Strong profanity used once. Mild profanity used fewer than a dozen times.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between boy and girl. A woman tells Camila she wasn’t allowed to play soccer because her parents thought it would make her a lesbian. Two of the female soccer players on Camila’s team are dating.

Spiritual Content
Camila thanks la Virgencita for a good thing that happens. She buys a card for La Difunta, a saint who died in the desert and was found still nursing her baby in a beam of sunshine. Camila makes plans to bring water to a shrine for the saint and asks for her help. Camila visits a healer who calls on the saints and the Lord to heal her and says the healing will depend on Camila’s faith.

Violent Content
Camila gets hit in the face by a soccer ball and knocked down during a game. A twelve-year-old girl goes missing and is later found murdered. Camila reflects on how often this happens to young women in Rosario and the injustice of that. A man knocks a teenage girl down and hits her with a belt.

Drug Content
References to alcohol and smoking.

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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