Review: Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez

Hi, bookworms and wyrms!

Welcome to my tour stop for Algonquin Young Readers’ blog tour for Yamile Saied Méndez’s most recent release, Furia. Thank you to the publisher for reaching out to me and to Yamile as well.

Before you scroll down for my review, I’d like to share with you all that Furia was chosen by none other than Reese Witherspoon for the actress, entrepreneur, and producer’s (damn, she does it all) YA book club’s September read.

Now, I know what you must be thinking: why should we put our value in celebrities’ opinions? The truth is, we shouldn’t.

But nevermind the fact that Reese, as many of us, is defined by more than one factor. She’s doing amazing things for women-centered stories with her bookclub.

There are even Furia bookmarks you can download and print, to spark up your reading!

What matters most is that, with over 2k books published in the USA just until September, getting noticed in such an overflown market is no easy feat.

And Furia came along and swept readers in its furious waves (you know I can’t miss a chance to make a pun)!

Furia in The September Reese's Book Club YA Pick
Furia in The September Reese’s Book Club YA Pick

If that doesn’t convince you, I hope my review motivates you to pick it up. Don’t forget to visit the other bloggers on the tour for more content about Furia.

I couldn’t be prouder to be part of this, as I loved every single review.


Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez cover
Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez cover

Published: Algonquin Young Readers (Sep 15, 2020) • Series: standalone • Cover Art/Design: Rachelle Baker (illustrator) & Laura Williams (designer) • Genre: Contemporary • Page count: 368

Synopsis


    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 her talents can take her.

    In her wildest dreams, she’d get an athletic scholarship to a North American university, but the path ahead won’t be easy. Her parents, who don’t know about her passion, wouldn’t allow a girl to play fútbol—and she needs their permission to go any farther.

    Meanwhile, the boy she once loved, Diego, is not only back in town, but has also become an international star, playing in Italy for the renowned team Juventus.

    Things aren’t the same as when he left: Camila has her own fútbol ambitions now, and La Furia cannot be denied.

    As her life becomes more complicated, she is forced to face her secrets and make her way in a world with no place for the dreams and passion of a girl like her.
    Content Warnings:slurs, domestic violence, murder

The Storygraph // Goodreads


Review

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book via Algonquin Young Readers which has in no way impacted my honest review. Thank you to Yamile and the publisher for the ARC!

Furia is the story of a young girl who fights to be a futbolera. It’s also a composition painted over with hues of family, abuse, misogyny, love, desire, ambition, insecurity, rage. 

Often the love part seemed to me the focus of the plot, and I have to admit that is not my playing field at all.

Even if you’re like me and romance doesn’t strike your fancy, you will not be able to deny the heart of a story that tells young girls that love shouldn’t be burned for the sake of strength. That true strength is having it all, never denying yourself and your future, whichever you choose it to be.

It’s amazing how many discussions the author raises even in the briefest moments, and how many messages the story weaves together to create a journey that speaks directly to us. 

This #ownvoices Argentine experience is a furious clash of worlds, and a clamor of voices that refuse to be buried. 

Camila is a fierce protagonist you can connect with, and I really felt close to her (we even almost shared a birthday —off by one day!— 🙂 ). She’s fierce, vulnerable, a lover and a fighter. While many may call her an antithesis, I see her as realistic, and I loved her for it.

“No one can stop me but myself, and I’m never going to stop.”

But Furia was a captivating read for more than fact you will fall in love with its characters, it makes it so you can’t help fall in love with the place where it all happens. 

Rosario is transformed by Camila’s journey, though it is already a beautifully immense place by itself. 

Not only will you be transported right onto the streets of this charming Argentinian city and its people, you’ll watch mesmerized as the pages become alive with the shared moments in Argentinian culture. It’s a slice of Argentine delight that I loved reading.

Rosario is a place deeply marked by a patriarchal system, yes, a place where young girls walking alone at night, to school, to clubs, to meet their boyfriends, are a premonition. A place where causing pain “can’t be controlled” but being subject to it “could have been avoided”. 

The sad truth is, no matter where you are in the world, every girl and woman can understand this feeling. 

“Posters of missing girls plastered the wall next to the bathrooms. Young, innocent, small faces. I saw them. I read every one of their names.”

Yet Rosario is more than its fear and the people who spread it. 

Rosario appears to us as a place where family tethers oneself, where dreams are made real through sweat, sacrifice, hope, and confidence.

It is a city alive with the impossible, brimming with voices that demand to be heard. Through many moments in the story, green banners claim their owed justice, highlighting women’s rights activism in the Ni Una Menos movement.

For an author to make you nostalgic for a place you’ve never even been to feels like an incredible feat to me, I can only say that Méndez writes her landscapes with such yearning that you are bound to feel it too.

What’s more, knowing that the author shared a dream with her main character was so deeply touching; it made me realize how much of stories is connecting with others, and telling those that may have lost touch with hope that they are not alone. 

Because Camila’s story isn’t disconnected from all the women who came before, and all who will come after. No, it is bound to them, uplifted by them, inspired by them. This cycle of support sustains the story, from the women in Camila’s life to the Latina authors mentioned in the book.

“I have their warrior fire inside me. I summon their speed, their resourcefulness, their hunger for life.”

Camila and her fight to become what she has always known she could be, a futbolera and her own person, may be all about breaking free from expectations, but it is never about leaving behind the women who have paved her path. 

Freedom through passion and resilience was the message that most stuck with me reading Furia, but there’s also an intense love letter to women’s resilience and to the feats of all those who bled for a future they may not have taken advantage of.

Furia made me understand why I love YA so much, no matter that it’s often kinder in its conclusions, often without the intricate lyrical descriptions many favor.

YA seems to me like a genre where writers not only make peace with their past selves, they build bridges to futures that young readers may have not had the chance to realize exist.

In the end, they’ll be made free by its war call: you can have it all. I have no doubt Camila’s story will fan the flame inside every young woman’s heart.

And that, I believe, is the greatest value in stories. 

Furia is available at

Publisher // Bookshop // Indiebound // Amazon // B&N // Book Depository // Books-A-Million


About Yamile

Yamile (sha-MEE-lay) Saied Méndez is a fútbol-obsessed Argentine American who loves meteor showers, summer, astrology, and pizza. She lives in Utah with her Puerto Rican husband and their five kids, two adorable dogs, and one majestic cat.

An inaugural Walter Dean Myers Grant recipient, she’s a graduate of Voices of Our Nations (VONA) and the MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Méndez is also part of Las Musas, the first collective of women and nonbinary Latinx middle grade and young adult authors. Furia is her first novel for young adult readers.

https://yamilesmendez.com/


Visit the other bloggers!

(If you’re on the tour and I haven’t included your post, please message me! I am following the tour via Algonquin’s Twitter, so apologies if I missed you.)

8 thoughts on “Review: Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez

  1. Sofii @ A Book. A Thought.

    You’re so clear and honest about your thoughts! I LOVED reading your review and it makes me immensely happy that you enjoyed it. ❤️
    I loved the book too and I’m SO proud to have been part of the tour. 🥺✨
    Thank you very much for mentioning my blog, you’re really kind 🥰

    Liked by 1 person

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