Saturday, March 10, 2012

Something Fierce by Carmen Aguirre

This novel was the winner of Canada Reads 2012, and the subtitle, “Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter”, sums up the book well. This is the incredible and extremely readable tale of the author’s growth from childhood to adulthood within the Chilean underground resistance movement against dictator Augusto Pinochet. Most of the book is set in the 1980s, and covers the author’s movements in Canada, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile.

What makes this book stand out is the perspective. We see everything through the eyes of a girl who is immersed in danger, intrigue, lies and violence but who is also struggling with the everyday concerns of a typical teenager. The contrast of life-threatening situations with ludicrously trivial concerns makes for some very funny reading at times.

If you’re looking to learn more about the political history of South America during those turbulent years, you will be disappointed. I had difficulty at times with the lack of context, but I don’t think it was the author’s intention to give an overview of those times. This memoir is primarily the story of a personal journey and the author’s own interpretation of the chaotic events unfolding around her. It’s a fascinating story and well worth reading.

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