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.
One of the most powerful things that a book can do is pull you into a world that you have never known and take you on a journey where you live the highs and lows through the eyes of another person. For instance, I’ve never been a fútbol (soccer) person and never ‘understood’ the hype. But then, I read Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez, a phenomenal YA contemporary that just pulled me right into its unforgettable story and, even though I’ve long since finished it, I still feel its hold on me. Through the eyes of Camila, known as La Furia on the field, I came to understand her passion for fútbol and the love someone can have for the sport.
Today, I want to talk about my five reasons of why you should pick up Furia, which was also a Reese’s YA Book Club pick!
1. The story paints a wonderful and full portrait of Camile’s life
Set in Argentina, Furia immerses us into Camile’s world. The narrative deftly balances her fútbol persona on the field (someone who plays to win and is darn good at it), the secrecy and fragility surrounding her family life, the ups and downs of first love, all amid the escalating protests against missing girls. When her team qualifies to play in a tournament and an old flame visits their home, Camila will have to make brave yet tough decisions about her career, future, and her love. Camila is phenomenal – wonderful in her strength, her fierce passion for what she does, and even her moments of vulnerability make her an inspiring and memorable character.
2. Heartfelt coming-of-age exploration of choosing love or your dreams
I used to get frustrated with the reductive question I was asked as a young person, “Would you choose love or your career?” (Why can’t I have both?) But Furia actually has a really heartfelt and sensitive exploration about the crossroads Camile finds herself in when an old flame sweeps in, just as she is offered a wonderful opportunity that would be amazing for her fútbol career. The romance in this book is soft at times, heartbreaking at times, and I enjoyed its nuance. I appreciated how the story is less about love but more about how loving someone and doing what you love can be at odds, and how putting yourself first and loving yourself can be challenging but also worth it.
3. Challenges machismo and sexism, and how it intersects with family life
A theme in Furia is sexism, and how it proliferates in every corner of our lives. It is perpetuated in sports, violence, and even at home. A distinct part of Camila’s story is her fraught and fragile situation at home, and how family life can have a huge affect on our daily lives – and even the choices that we may make for ourselves and our future. The story does depict Camila’s father being abusive, and how abuse and fear can pull people into its orbit, and challenges the implicit and hostile sexist beliefs held by those around her.
4. A feminist story at its very heart, about the strength of girls and women
What I loved about Furia, and why I’d love for all young readers to read this book, is that it’s a feminist story that examines the violence inherent in and pain caused by patriarchal and sexist societies. Furia speaks to the anger of young girls who don’t want to be the next victim or statistic. Camila’s frustrations and anger of the unfairness and injustice of it all will resonate with readers. However, the story also highlights that there is power in solidarity and strength in coming together to grieve, to fight, to resist.
5. A love letter to those whose passions rise above society’s expectations
Furia explores what it’s like to wrestle with society expectations of you and how you ‘ought’ to be. For Camile, she struggles to conceal her passion and dedication to fútbol from her strict mother and abusive father, who would definitely not support her fútbol career and believe that fútbol is a man’s sport. Consequently, Camila is caught in between and has to juggle the image and expectations that her parents and society have of her as a teen girl as well as her own aspirations and dreams that she has for herself. Ultimately, Furia is about how joy and following your dreams and making your own choices can hold incredible power.
MY CONCLUSION: RECOMMENDED
Furia is not only a must-read because of its feminist and empowering themes, but it’s also such a compassionate and resonant story about an Argentinean teen navigating life, the complicated path of following her dream and love, and has to be strong to carry the weight of it all. An incredible and unforgettable journey through and through, Furia is a phenomenal story and a must-read for sports lovers, feminists, and dreamers.
Is this book for you?
Premise in a sentence: An Argentinean teen is caught between following her dreams and falling in love with her childhood friend.
Perfect for: readers who enjoy stories about sports; readers looking for a story with feminist themes; readers who enjoy reading complicated and nuanced main characters
Think twice if: you’re not looking for a story that depicts sexism, violence against women, and domestic abuse
Genre: young adult contemporary
Content warning: mention of sexual assault, misogyny, death of young girls (not explicitly described), parental and domestic abuse