Jam packed with passion, heart and an emphasis on the Ni Una Menos movement, Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez is an empowering coming of age tale with an ultra focused fútbol (soccer) edge.
Seventeen-year-old Camila Hassan lives in Rosario, Argentina and has always dreamed of being a professional fútbol player. The problem? It’s a move that is totally against her family’s wishes, especially her father’s. Still, that doesn’t stop her, and she leads a double life by playing with a women’s fútbol team behind their backs. Afraid of being punished, she hides it from her family and pretends she is studying for medical school. Things start to get complicated when her childhood friend and crush, Diego, comes into town after being recruited by Juventus F.C. Camila’s passion for fútbol fuels the story forward, but the backdrop of the femicide violence in Argentina lingers throughout the pages and makes the resolution all the more satisfying.
As a reader, I enjoyed how Méndez explored the multicultural heritage of not only Camila but of those around her. Latinx/e folks aren’t a monolith, and I liked how Méndez accentuated this by highlighting all the different parts that make Camila who she is. Camila starts the book by talking about her Russian great grandmother, Palestinian grandfather, Andalusian grandmother and Black great great grandmother and ends the book with them as well. It’s a nice call back and a reminder of all her past ancestors and how pieces of them exist within her, both physically and emotionally.
As a protagonist, Camila is very engaging. She places herself first, even if it hurts her feelings in the moment. She is focused on her goals and dreams and doesn’t back down from them. She’s bold. She’s devoted to her aspirations and that in itself is an act of defiance against the patriarchy. Méndez shows the reader that daring to follow one’s desires, in a society that largely demeans women and upholds machismo is an incredibly revolutionary act.
It was so much fun to read the fútbol scenes and follow along with Camila during her games. The ease and power that she had while commanding the ball was exciting (although sometimes nerve wracking when they were down a few points). Watching her grow and make strides as a player was so satisfying to read. The epilogue definitely hit a sweet spot and opened the door for a potential sequel!
Furia is a fierce tale about female empowerment and freedom. Méndez commands her prose in the same way Camila does on the soccer field—with grace and energy.