Something Fierce

Whew, this was something fierce indeed–I read it in 3 hours flat. Carmen Aguirre’s Something Fierce was voted the winner of Canada Reads, outlasting The Game, The Tiger, On A Cold Road, and Prisoner of Tehran. Naturally, everyone wants to read it now, myself included. Here are my conclusions on the winning book…

I began this book almost immediately after finishing Anne of Green Gables. That was interesting. I went from wide-eyed innocence to almost having sex at age 11. That’s one thing about the book that made me especially uncomfortable. Carmen’s mother, referred to through the book as Mami, didn’t care about and frankly indulged sexual behaviour at a VERY young age. There’s so much making out and openness, it was really odd for me. Maybe I’m just a really old fashioned person. When I think of the 80s, Who’s the Boss and Full House come to mind–I guess Samantha and DJ weren’t really being raised by hippie revolutionists though. The opposite ends of the spectrum are oddly fascinating to me. I’m not necessarily a prude, I just don’t believe in full-on nighttime make-out sessions at age 11.

That being said, the argument that was made in favour of Something Fierce was that it was a coming of age story that could appeal to girls and boys alike. Well I agree that the story is one that can be read and enjoyed by both genders, but the coming of age part was particularly interesting. It was almost as if she was already of age in a lot of respects. She shouldered adult burdens well before her teenage years and did things I couldn’t even dream of doing now at age 22. Tear gas, molotov cocktails, being held at gunpoint, hiking across the Andes mountains–I wouldn’t last a day.

I loved that her writing was so frank. You didn’t need to be a history buff or a literary genius or even an English minor to grasp the entirety of the situations she dealt with. It spanned across roughly 8 years of her life, and yet the pace never seemed too slow or too fast. She wove the issues of the countries so deftly into her own private life that I almost couldn’t distinguish at times, but never got confused. I was surprised at how candidly she discussed incidents like her first period; I can tell you that would be a hard one for me to type out for the world to read!

I do have to say, I agree with Anne-France Goldwater on one aspect that she mentioned (out of the many inflammatory remarks towards the book) during Canada Reads–I would have liked the perspective of the sister, Ale. I almost wish the two sisters had collaborated on writing the book, alternating chapters between their perspectives. The two were so close as children and witnessed so much together and yet they had starkly different views on the resistance. That would have really pumped up the intensity and excitement of the book for me. For those of you who read the book, do you agree?

I don’t want to give away too much of the plot since this will be a widely read book for quite some time so I’ll stop here. I will mention that after reading this book, I am even more confused about the point of Canada Reads. Why is this book something that every Canadian should read? What, aside from the fact that she lives here and sought refuge here, brings this home to Canadians in general? How do Canadians relate? Someone help me understand…


Something Fierce 


Recommendation Rate 


3 thoughts on “Something Fierce

  1. I’ve never really had a desire to read this book, even now in light of the fact that it won Canada Reads. But I have to admit your review intrigues me. I just might have to check this one out, although I’m sure I’ll feel the same way as you about the sexual subject matter at such a young age. That was the main difficulty I had with The Virgin Cure.

    • I was ready to type a response that said “if you like historical fiction, you’ll enjoy this book” before remembering it’s non-fiction. This just goes to show that the book is so interesting, I couldn’t associate it with my view of non-fictional reading in general!

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