Furia
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Furia

Yamile Saied Mendez

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 futbol - 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. Filled with authentic details and the textures of day-to-day life in Argentina, heart-soaring romance, and breathless action on the pitch, Furia is the story of a girl’s journey to make her life her own.

Review

It feels like there is always room for more books about young people playing sport and Furia, a novel about a teen soccer player, is one of the highest quality.

Argentinean teenager Camilla is known as ‘Furia’ by her fútbol teammates. She loves the game and is dynamite on the field. Camilla has been playing in a women’s league but she hides this from her family; while a career in football is an option for her brother, Camilla has been banned from playing by her cruel father. Camilla is a determined young woman aware of her own potential with an irrepressible passion for the game.

When her team is given the opportunity to play at a higher level, it’s clear that Camilla must prioritise her dreams, but of course this is not without consequences. Recent social justice movements such as the Green Wave that saw Argentinean women fighting for their rights also provide a backdrop for the novel. Violence against women is commonplace, but the tide is turning and the women in the book find strength to fight back and support each other. Camilla experiences first love, and is an enriching presence as she teaches English to young students. Her determination to carve out her own career path and to be independent is constant even as she faces tough decisions that will shape her future.

Furia is a great read. Inspirational and empowering, Yamile Saied Mendez has given Camilla a voice that is strong and true. Fans of Angie Thomas and Elizabeth Acevedo should definitely check this one out. For ages 12+.


Kim Gruschow is the children’s book buyer at Readings St Kilda.

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