A powerful, #ownvoices contemporary YA for fans of The Poet X and I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter 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. 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.
Camila is also skilled in English, and she would love to go to the US, but it would be so expensive that the dream seems impossible. She is working to save up as much as she can, while also cultivating her skills on the field. At home, her abusive father is frequently putting her and her mother down, as women should know their place. Camila is afraid of him (and rightly so) but still manages to be defiant.
Diego was her friend growing up, and now he has made it big, playing in Europe. When he comes home, their romance is rekindled, but Camila can't help but be reminded that he will be leaving- and her dream is not to follow him around the world and watch his success while preventing her own.
What I loved: This book captures some complex issues of gender equality and the different expectations of girls vs. boys and the roles they are expected to fill. Camila has some really poignant moments where she counters these ingrained thoughts/comments with better thoughts. This was not always an easy read as it covers these difficult topics as well as teen pregnancy and abuse. She is a really fantastic main character whose passion for her dreams and goals will not be deterred by anyone or anything. The book is ultimately encouraging and full of female power.
I also really appreciated the context and immersion in Argentinian culture that add another level of interest. Smaller themes around women's rights are included throughout and really provide a multi-faceted look at the culture and these related issues.
Final verdict: Overall, this was an engrossing story about using your talent and pursuing your goals with messages about gender equality and the complexities of love. Highly recommend for people who enjoy powerful#ownvoices stories.