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Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  1,899 Ratings  ·  235 Reviews
"Something Fierce is raw, courageously honest, and funny; an insightful journey into the formation of a revolutionary soul."—The Globe and Mail

In Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter, renowned actor Carmen Aguirre skillfully pilots readers straight into her girlhood initiation into a revolutionary family and ultimate decision, at age nineteen, to commit he
Paperback, 288 pages
Published April 10th 2012 by South End Press (first published April 18th 2011)
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Petra X
Nov 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The blurb says it all. I don't have anything much to add. Chile, Argentina and Peru. Mad times, mad people, an intensity of belief that expressed itself in action that I think the author, daughter of two revolutionaries, didn't 'catch' and never truly understood.

It was a consistently good read but mostly because the people were so incredibly interesting and lived what they believed. The rather neurasthenic presence of the narrator, the daughter, picks up somewhat when she too becomes a revolutio
Jan 06, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not until close to the end of Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter does Carmen Aguirre seem to finally and tellingly encapsulate the profound trauma that the life forced on her by her Chilean revolutionary parents had wrought on her bodily, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. To that point, Something Fierce had intermittently captured my interest with its understandably uneven account of a girl growing to young womanhood living the double and triple life of a political ...more
This was a mad book. Mad in terms of the things Carmen and her sister Ale lived through as her exiled Chilean mother and her stepfather takes them from Canada back to Latin America to become underground revolutionary with the aim to take Chile back from Pinochet with force. They set up a safe house in La Paz, Bolivia and their travels takes them on through South America. Carmen has some crazy, terrifying experience, plus has to live with the fact that she cannot tell anyone about her life, her r ...more
From BBC Radio 4 - Book of the Week:
Born a week after the death of Che Guevara, Carmen Aguirre was always destined to become a revolutionary. After Pinochet's violent coup in Chile in 1973, her family is forced to flee to Canada. And when, a few years later, the Chilean resistance calls for exiled activists to return to fight the cause, Carmen's mother heeds the call. Determined to make mini revolutionaries of her two daughters, she takes them with her - and so Carmen's double life begins. Posin
Melinda Doucette
I am thankful to the author for having written this book. I feel like I learned something about the world I wouldn't have otherwise ever known. I'm in awe of revolutionaries and people who dedicate their lives to what they fiercely believe in. This book made me laugh and cry and overall had a huge impact on me.
Joanne Guidoccio
Mar 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At last night’s book club, we had a lively discussion about Carmen Aguirre’s memoir, Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter. While most of us were fascinated by the book and welcomed the opportunity to learn more about Chile, we had different opinions regarding the parenting of Carmen and her sister, Ale.

When Carmen was five years old, her family left Chile and began a new life in Vancouver. Six years later, her mother (Mami) decided to return and join the revolutionary movement a
Steven Langdon
May 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Something Fierce" is the memoir that won the CBC Canada Reads Contest for 2012. It is a well-written and involving account of the growing up of a Chilean daughter, transferred to Vancouver after Allende's overthrow, who came to adulthood through years of working, first with her mother, then by herself, for the defeat of the illicit Pinochet regime that replaced democratic government in Chile.

This is a remarkable book on several levels. First, it recounts what it was like growing up in such unus
Mary Billinghurst
Mar 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read very little non-fiction and am often disappointed when I do. Something Fierce, however, is well worth reading. Growing up as I have in middle class comfort in "socialist" Canada, I have been ignorant too long of the plight of so many of the people who live in South American countries. The struggle to achieve decent education and health care for all, regardless of class and colour, is ongoing in many of those countries, and in particular, the author's homeland of Chile.

Many years ago, I sa
Rebekkah Patriarche
"A story that must not die with the people who lived it."

In the wake of the 2016 US election I was looking for something to help me understand the path North America might be traveling over the next few or several years, through the experiences of people who had participated in political resistance at other times, in other places. I stumbled on this memoir through my library and it was the story I needed. The politics of the resistance working to effect change across the neo-liberal experiment
Carmen Aguirre has obviously lived a fascinating life, but despite that this book was not particularly engaging. Having spent most of her life having to keep secrets and pretend to be someone she wasn't, it must have been very cathartic to get it all out. Unfortunately it also makes the book feel a bit more like a blurt than a tale.

There are just too many people and places (dozens of both) to get a clear picture of or feel for any of them. Even Ale, her sister, remains a bit of an enigma. I can
John Hill
May 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
4.5 stars, and only because Aguirre expects you to do a lot of background research to stay in the loop of events. Understandably so though. This was brilliant, absolutely brilliant. Passion, dedication, understanding and empathy. Traits that I think are the most important in order to understand, and the best representations, of what being human is about. A book that will stay with me. Hasta la victoria siempre.
Colleen Earle
Absolutely fantastic book.
My one and only complaint is that I wish that it had more pictures (though I understand that maybe there aren’t many)
A coming of age story with an intense political background, this book has something for everyone.
Kathleen Schmitt
by Carmen Aguirre

Review by Kathleen Schmitt

Darkly comic? That's the description of the book given by, I think, the publisher. Yes, there are some funny parts. Life without humor is sort of like life without breathing, and the more extreme the conditions, the more likely some humor will erupt. But humor is not the main point of Something Fierce. This is a book of passionate anger against violent crimes and the will to give everything to stop th
Barbara McVeigh
Think about your childhood. Was it anything close to this?

At age eleven, Carmen Aguirre was in the food court of LAX with her mother who is dressed like one of Charlie’s Angels and biting into a Big Mac in order to look like a middle class tourist. Originally from Chile, Carmen and her family had taken refuge in Canada when Pinochet staged a coup and cracked down on dissent. The reality was that her mother had joined the underground Chilean resistance movement and was bringing Carmen and her si
Dec 29, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
when starting a book like this I expect one of two things .... either to learn a lot about how the politics of the time coloured life ...or .... to be deeply moved by one individual's personal account. in this case, my expectations were too high. it has a really good rating here on Goodreads AND was a winner of the annual Canada Reads competition a few years ago. so having high expectations of Something Fierce did not seem all that unreasonable to me.

a few scenes engaged me; drew me in and gave
Mar 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When Carmen Aguirre was six years old, her family became political refugees and fled to Vancouver, Canada. The family was fleeing from Chile where General Augusto Pinochet had just ousted the democratically elected socialist president, Salvador Allende, in a violent coup. It was September 11, 1973 and thousands were being rounded up, tortured and killed. Five years later, the Chilean resistance called for all exiled activists to return and continue their activism. Carmen's mother wanted to keep ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Wendy Caron
Perhaps a two-star rating is a little harsh for this book but it's impossible to give half stars and so I went with the 'it was okay' rating rather than I liked it. I think my expectations were too high for this book knowing that it was the 2012 Canada Reads (True Stories) winner. I enjoyed reading Carmen's account of her day to day life and the implications of being a resistance fighter's daughter but found I didn't have an attachment to 'the cause' or to Chile. The names of the various dictato ...more
Apr 13, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: meh
As the 2012 winner of 'Canada Reads', I expected to like this one a bit more than I did. It was interesting to learn more about South American history and culture (I now have La Paz on my list of places to visit), but I found it hard to connect with 'Carmencita' for some reason. I kept waiting for something big to happen, but things and events seemed only to happen around her or to those close to her. Perhaps that's where the disconnect stems from: my expectations. I expected a book about revolu ...more
Jan 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Think The Glass Castle, but political. Fierce, indeed–Aguirre delivers a no-holds-barred portrait of what it is to give everything to what you believe in. I was torn though between thinking her courageous for choosing the revolutionary life despite everything she went through as a child, and wondering if she'd been brainwashed. I did identify with her mother's struggle–desiring to have a family while still remaining political and engaged. And I learned so much more about South American late-20th ...more
Stacie Dore
Jan 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book I should have read a long time ago. Most of the way through the book I would have given it 4 stars but the end the explanation of why this book was written and the cost pushed it up to five. Aguierre describes this book as 'political commitment clashing with person desire.' With an almost constant state of terror this book manages to throw in comedy. It shows the true cost of pursuing ones beliefs but in this case the cost to their children. It is very interesting as Aguierre is o ...more
Jan 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I found this book very interesting. It synthesized and expanded my knowledge of South American politics, while also telling a memorable coming-of-age story. I found the writing style a little naive in places, but the cumulative effect of Aguirre's over-the-top physical descriptions ended up charming me in the end--lending authenticity to the voice of a teenage girl searching to describe her experience.
Michelle Szarka
Jan 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think this will be top 2 in one of the books for CBC Canada Reads - I loved it!
Carmen writes very well and describes her involvement in the chilean resistance movement with great detail!
I think her mother is a huge whackjob though for getting her children involved in that life instead of raising them in Canada where they could have had some wonderful opportunities!
Megan Graff
I'm not actually reading this - I'm listening to the podcasts of an abridged version read by the author that is airing on CBC.

I don't know if I'll end up seeking out the full length book someday or not but I'm enjoying listening to the episodes.
Feb 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was one of the most absorbing books I have read this year. Carmen Aguirre is a very good storyteller. This book has caused me to now have an interest in all things Chilean. I have also found a new respect for South America. I recommend this book to all my friends.
Dec 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gripping. Not normally a fan of non-fiction, I selected this one because it's being featured on CBC's Canada Reads 2011. I could not put it down. I need to read more about the people and the history of South and Central America.
Apr 26, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Macklin by: Anastasia
Shelves: canadian, nonfiction
What an exhilarating read. Very fast paced. I got realy confused with all the events that were happening since it was 10 years all packed into 300 pages, but it was still fun. Aguirre's story is just amazing.
Patricia L.
Jun 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This memoir warms up slowly. The author develops into a courageous warrior and writer. Read It.
Nov 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Fabulous book!
Mar 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It starts like any story of a daughter and mother but it is a revolutionary tale. There are moments that shock, inspire, irritate, enrage, and explain. Some of the prose is gorgeous, some mundane. But it is consistently good, an important book.

In reflection, on her choices to speak her truth, tell her story.
"...I turned up the volume on Highway 1, heading back to my quintessentially East Van, single-mom basement suite, heart overflowing with the faces of those girls, the jailed men, the Chileans
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Carmen Aguirre is a Vancouver-based theatre artist who has worked extensively in North and South America. She has written and co-written twenty-one plays, including Chile Con Carne, The Trigger, The Refugee Hotel, and Blue Box. Her first non-fiction book, Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter, was published in 2011 by Douglas & McIntyre in Canada and Granta/Portobello in the Un ...more
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“The body cannot take chronic terror; it must defend itself by refusing to harbor the spirit that wants to soar through it and experience life to the fullest.” 1 likes
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