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TOP 500 REVIEWERon February 7, 2012
Carmen Aguirre is a Vancouver playwright whose family fled Chile shortly after the brutal dictator Pinochet seized power in 1973.

Both of her parents had been university professors, who had supported Chile's democratically-elected president Salvador Allende.

Suspecting them of subversion, soldiers came to their home shortly following the military coup, but her parents weren't there. Carmen recounts what happened to her, then 5 years old, and her 4-year-old sister Ale:

"A few days earlier a soldier had knocked on our door and threatened to arrest my mother for wearing pants. In the days following the coup, a warning was issued that women would no longer wear the pants in Chile. There were already women in jail for not wearing skirts, and women in the streets with their pants torn to shreds by soldiers...

The soldiers pushed Ale and me up against the wall of the house... `Oh well', he said, `I guess it's the firing squad for you two.' The other soldiers laughed too, as if that was the funniest thing they'd ever heard.

`Turn around', he ordered Ale and me. I took her shoulders and turned her so she faced the wall. Then I did the same. `Hands up. Both of you,' the soldiers yelled. Ale raised her arms. I did too. I heard my teeth chattering in my skull, and then the soldier's voice from very far away: `Ready. Aim. Fire.' I was shaking so hard I thought I'd fall down. Ale and I stood there, swaying in the mud, as the soldiers got in their vehicles and drove away.'"

Her family fled to Canada as refugees shortly thereafter, but five years later, when Carmen was still only 11 years old, her parents made the heart-rending decision to return to South America to courageously support the Resistance.

Something Fierce is a brilliant, searing and enthralling memoir of Carmen's childhood and adolescence in those terrifying circumstances, and of her own eventual commitment to the cause of justice.

Her trenchant insight will remind you of Naomi Klein; her literary skill echoes that of Rawi Hage; and the unforgettable imagery of childhood in the midst of fascist brutality recalls the film Pan's Labyrinth. But Aguirre's voice is uniquely her own, incisive and resilient. 5 stars!
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on February 9, 2012
To follow beside Carmen as she grew up, as she experienced things too intense for fully equipped adults, was nail-bitting, heart breaking, and sometimes, funny. It's an interesting perspective of politics and family from a fantastic writer.
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on January 1, 2012
This book is very well written, captivating story and well worth reading. It is in the Canada Reads selection this year, so I am interested to see how it does. It really makes me appreciate all we take for granted in Canada. But there is no preaching, just a great story that speaks to your soul.
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on February 14, 2012
An amazing story, and rare insight to the world of the 'underground.' It's doubly dramatic because the dangerous life the reader tags along on is also that of a teenage girl, who is equally passionate about the basic human rights of the disenfrachised, as she is about the hot boy in the tight jeans in her math class. I'm the same age as Aguirre, so it was also interesting for me because while she living in constant fear, sometimes all alone, looking after younger siblings in various safe houses throughout South America, I was living the boring middle class life that was her public image. But even though I'm same age as the writer, I think anyone can be just as enthralled by this story. It also really made me think about the lives that so many immigrant families in Canada left behind... how many janitors, waitresses, nurses, teachers or journalists left behind dramatically different lives than what they have now. There are so many stories we don't know.
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on April 30, 2012
What a bright, intelligent, funny but moving story about people we never get a chance to know in "regular" media. What I found most interesting was the contrast in the lives of the author and her family with all the people who claim to be revolutionaries but whose most revolutionary activities involve signing internet petitions, reading Adbusters, marching around the block once with a sign once in a while, attending lectures at the local university and loudly declaiming to all within earshot about the corruption in modern capitalist life while driving to the gas station and the mall. (Count me in, I hasten to add!) It's encouraging and inspiring to be reminded that there have been people and still are people who put their lives on the line to bring about change in places where there's a very good chance they will be tortured or killed for doing so.
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on March 21, 2012
I purchased this book as part of my Canada Reads 2012 package and so far it's the one I've most enjoyed. Carmen Aguire writes a captivating history of her life as both the daugher of a Revolutionary, and then as a member of the Resistance herself. I learned a lot more than I ever did in school regarding the politics of Bolivia, Argentina and Chile in this era and am greatful for her passionate insights.
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on April 4, 2013
A view of a terrifying point in history through a young girl, then teen, ten young woman's eyes. Compelling and at times scary, this is a story of a whole different world then my middle class Canadian teens. One that unfortunately I did not consider until reading this book.
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on September 23, 2013
This is a true story that tells of someone whose family devoted so much of their lives to save a country that had almost been destroyed with the blessing and the encouragement of the United States and the World Bank, among other powerful entities. A powerful story!
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on August 5, 2015
I loved this book, I could hardly put it down. It was well written and gave a real insight to the way of life in Latin and South America.
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on April 12, 2016
Equal parts terrifying, humorous, audacious, doleful and joyous . . . but always riveting and crucial.
What a book!
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