Something Fierce

Something Fierce

Memoirs of A Revolutionary Daughter

Book - 2011
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Perseus Publishing
? Winner of Canada Reads 2012
? Nominated for the Charles Taylor prize and the BC Award for Canadian Non-Fiction

On September 11, 1973, General Augusto Pinochet led a violent coup that removed Salvador Allende, the democratically elected socialist president of Chile, from office. Thousands were arrested, tortured and killed under the repressive new regime. Six-year-old Carmen Aguirre and her younger sister fled the country with their parents for a life in exile.

Five years later, when her mother and stepfather returned to South America as Chilean resistance members, Carmen and her sister’s double lives began. At 18, Carmen herself joined the resistance, plunging further into a world of terror, paranoia, and euphoria. Something Fierce takes the reader inside war-ridden Peru, dictatorship-run Bolivia, post-Malvinas Argentina, and Pinochet's Chile during the eventful decade between 1979 and 1989.

Dramatic, suspenseful, and darkly comic, it is a rare account of revolutionary life and a passionate argument against forgetting.

Publisher: Vancouver : Douglas & McIntyre, c2011
ISBN: 9781771000369
Branch Call Number: 983.065 AGU
Characteristics: 277 p. :,maps ;,24 cm.


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Sep 17, 2019

This Memoir by Carmen submerges you into the Chilean Resistance from the mid-'70s to the dismantling in 1990. We gain an understanding from the perspective of a young girl wanting to help and support her parents in the struggle to reclaim Chile to a teenager struggling to hold it all together, while her Body rebelled in every possible way to a young Woman who becomes a trained member of the Resistance and has to struggle every day to control and overcome her terror. This is a harrowing, stark and raw Memoir, which leaves the reader absorbed, outraged, often frightened and mournful. As a fellow South American and of similar age to the Author, I felt every ounce of her pain. Challenging at times, yet impossible to put down, especially if you love History and the comprehension which comes from intimate revelation!

May 05, 2019

This is a solid book on an important topic. I found, however, that it got a bit bogged down in lists of details, people, places, dates, etc. and I really did not need to know so much about every boy that Aguirre kissed. The ending, which talks about Aguirre's own role in the revolutions and the afterward parts were quite strong, making me cry on the SkyTrain...

WPLBookClub Jun 11, 2017

The Whistler Public Library and Armchair Books book club read "Something Fierce" in May 2017. Our group loves discussing memoirs - we should read them more often! This book was well-received by all of us, which certainly doesn't happen every month. Overall, we appreciated the combination of the detailed historical account with Carmen's coming-of-age story - the two styles complimented each other nicely, and we think they broaden the appeal of this memoir.

We particularly enjoyed discussing:
- Carmen's mother's decision to bring her children back to South America when they could safely live in Canada
- The author's take on life in Canada vs. life in Bolivia, Argentina, etc. (especially adolescence!)
- Whether day-to-day life in these countries has changed a great deal since the 80s

We were also lucky enough to hear the author speak the night after our book club meeting! This shed some fascinating insights on our discussion.

May 23, 2017

A powerful story that explores the depths a family is willing to in the pursuit of radical change. But against this backdrop of underground revolution, it is also a coming of age story. It makes you think about the lengths you will go to resist oppressive forces.

LaughingOne Dec 16, 2014

I was engrossed in this story at the same time that I was a bit frustrated because it was often hard to follow (chronologically, geographically, people interactions). During the years covered in this book, I was a political activist in the US, and I knew more about some of the things taking place in Central and South America than the average American. I also got to meet and/or attend talks by some of the South Americans themselves (like Rigoberta Menchu). Carmen Aguirre's book provides more information and is even more interesting since some of it is from the perspective of a child. It may not be conveyed in a particularly emotional way, but I see that as one of the necessities for her survival during that time. The life and times were traumatic. Try to imagine living through some of these things in our own Canada; it's almost unimaginable, isn't it?

Jun 03, 2014

A delightful read and amazing adventure that's sometimes hard to imagine but with Aguirre's apt and honest descriptions she takes us along a harrowing, sometimes happy and truly historic ride. A great, great read.

Apr 06, 2013

One of the protagonists - Bob Everton - later become my prof at SFU. He was a truly remarkable man who died far too young. We are at a loss without him.

Aug 02, 2012

The author was the daughter of revolutionaries who fled Pinochet's Chile. She joined the struggle as a teenager. Aguirre's is a life of passion and purpose and an example for us all.

Jul 02, 2012

A Canada reads selection. A memoir about a Vancouver family( with Chilean roots) who return to South America to aid in the revolutionary cause to depose the current dictators in Bolivia, Argentina and Chile. The young children growing up in such an environment become revolutionaries themselves.
Very captivating. A glimpse into the life of a family that must keep secrets from those around them

Jun 28, 2012

I thought this book started well - I was captured immediately - then sagged a bit in the middle. Just the same, it brought home to me what what happening elsewhere while I was living a relatively charmed and peaceful life. In that way it was an grateful eye-opener to my ignorance and gave me pause to think about the fear and terror that still reigns in so many places in this world.

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Mar 13, 2012

A Canada Reads 2012: True Stories Contender and long-listed for the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction. A gripping, darkly comic first-hand account of a young underground revolutionary during the Pinochet dictatorship in 1980s Chile. On September 11, 1973, a violent coup removed Salvador Allende, the democratically elected socialist president of Chile, from office. Thousands were arrested, tortured and killed under General Augusto Pinochet's repressive new regime. Soon after the coup, six-year-old Carmen Aguirre and her younger sister fled the country with their parents for Canada and a life in exile. In 1978, the Chilean resistance issued a call for exiled activists to return to Latin America. Most women sent their children to live with relatives or with supporters in Cuba, but Carmen's mother kept her precious girls with her. As their mother and stepfather set up a safe house for resistance members in La Paz, Bolivia, the girls' own double lives began. At eighteen, Carmen herself joined the resistance. With conventional day jobs as a cover, she and her new husband moved to Argentina to begin a dangerous new life of their own. This dramatic, darkly funny narrative, which covers the eventful decade from 1979 to 1989, takes the reader inside war-ridden Peru, dictatorship-run Bolivia, post-Malvinas Argentina and Pinochet's Chile. Writing with passion and deep personal insight, Carmen captures her constant struggle to reconcile her commitment to the movement with the desires of her youth and her budding sexuality. Something Fierce is a gripping story of love, war and resistance and a rare first-hand account of revolutionary life.


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Sep 17, 2019

"How did you deal with the fear in those days?" I asked him. "I didn't feel afraid." "I don't believe you." "Really-I didn't feel it. But it comes out now, I suppose. In my depression." "It's all I felt," I admitted. "Fear. Terror. Paranoia." "You never talked about it." "I worried that if I did it could break me, us, the little world of facades we'd built to keep going. I knew what they were capable of if they caught us. But what was required was absolute commitment, body and soul. I wonder if that's one of the reasons we lost, the reason so many struggles are lost-the inhuman demands placed on those who are fighting for the dream. We lived in a state of terror, and it was unrevolutionary to feel it, let alone speak of it. I tried to be a hero, but I was just the opposite: a teenager fucking up all over the place who wanted to give everything to the struggle." I turned to Peti. "Your generation seems to understand that you don't have to let your beliefs consume you..." pg 318

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