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Guest Carmen Aguirre

When Carmen Aguirre was just 11 years old, she had a life-changing conversation with her mother in the Los Angeles airport. Over a McDonald's Big Mac her mom explained that Carmen and her younger sister weren't going on vacation, like they had been told. Instead, they were headed to Peru, to join the Chilean resistance against the dictator Augusto Pinochet.

For the next ten years Carmen led a dangerous and secret double-life: balancing the typical interests of a teenage girl - boys, clothes, and pop music - with the uncertain and underground life of a revolutionary - harrowing border runs, codes of silence, and military interrogation. Her family led a transient and underground lifestyle, bouncing around Peru, Bolivia and Argentina in the eventful decade between 1979 and 1989.

Carmen was fighting for a country she could barely remember. Her family had fled from Chile to Canada when she was just six-years-old. They weren't immigrants; they were living in exile, which Carmen says resulted in her having a much more complex and confusing relationship with her adopted homeland.

After more than a decade of living on the run in South America Carmen chose to return to Canada and settle in Vancouver, where she's since become a successful playwright and actress. Her literary debut, 'Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter', chronicles her story as a young resistance fighter. It was crowned the Canada Reads champion of 2012, though not everyone was a fan. Canada Reads panelist Anne-France Goldwater had some choice words for Carmen, going so far as to call her a "bloody terrorist." If she was hurt by the comments, Carmen didn't show it. She maintains her story is about a complex mother-and-daughter relationship - set against the backdrop of revolution.


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