Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Furia

Title: Furia 
Author: Yamile Saied Mendez
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers 
Publication Date: September 15th, 2020 
Genre/Format: YA Contemporary Fiction/Novel 
GoodReads Summary: 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.
What I Think: I'm completely obsessed with this book! Camila and her story sucked me in right away and I was desperate to know what was going to happen. While this is a love story...it's more about Camila loving herself than anything else and I'm all for that! I was so invested in this book and I think it has a lot to do with the writing and how honest Camila's story is. Maybe because I'm Latina myself and have spent so much time on identity work it really resonated with me...but please, share this with students because we all need some good examples of how to navigate our complex and unique identities and this story is so great for all readers.
    As a mentor text, Camila spends a lot of time navigating her different identities. She's a daughter but she's also a footballer and she's hiding that from her family. When it comes to thinking about our own unique and complex identities, this book gives us an opportunity to do that. The book starts off with her talking about a family proverb that has been passed down and how that lives now with her. This is a great way to think about who we are in the context of our family, our ancestors, and even the place(s) where we grow up. 
    In my notebook, I started by making a list of what comes to mind when I read the snatch of text, then I made a list of places in my life, and a list of a few sayings I heard over and over again growing up. Then I chose one saying to write about and, like Yamile, I wrote about how my ancestors lived that saying and how it has become part of my life. This is a great discussion to have with students that invites them to reflect on what messages have been passed down to them by their family and where they've grown up but also an opportunity to share what ideals their family has shared with them. As a teacher, this is a great way to learn about students and honor their backgrounds. For me, and for Camila, it's important to also question what we've been taught. Not from a good or bad perspective but from a perspective of, "Is this how I want to live?" Because we always have a choice.
    If you're interesting in slides so you can try this yourself and/or with students, check out the Story Exploratory Patreon community where I share videos, writing tips, extended activities, and monthly workshops. 
Snatch of Text: "Lies have short legs. I learned this proverb before I could speak. I never knew exactly where it came from. Maybe the saying followed my family across the Atlantic, all the way to Rosario, the second-largest city in Argentina, at the end of the world.
    My Russian great-grandmother, Isabel, embroidered it on a pillow after her first love broke her heart and married her sister. My Palestinian grandfather, Ahmed, whispered it to me every time my mom found his hidden stash of wine bottles. My Andalusian grandmother, Elena, repeated it like a mantra until her memories and regrets called her to the next life. Maybe it came from Matilde, the woman who chased freedom to Las Pampas all the way from Brazil, but of her, this Black woman whose blood roared in my veins, we hardly ever spoke. Her last name got lost, but my grandma's grandma still showed up so many generations later in the way my brown hair curled, the shape of my nose, and my stubbornness - ay, Dios mío, my stubbornness. Like her, if family folklore was to be trusted, I had never learned to shut up or do as I was told. 
    But perhaps the words sprouted from this land that the conquistadores thought was encrusted with silver, the only inheritance I'd ever receive from the indigenous branch of my family tree. In any case, when my mom said them to me as I was getting ready to leave the house that afternoon, I brushed her off. 
    'I'm not lying,' I insisted, fighting with the tangled laces of my sneakers - real Nikes that Pablo, my brother, had given me for  Christmas after he got his first footballer paycheck. 'I told you, I'll be at Roxana's.'"

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