The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

Posted January 15, 2020 by Amber in Reviews / 2 Comments

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The Fountains of Silence

The Fountains of Silence

by Ruta Sepetys

Publisher: Penguin Books on October 3, 2019
Genre: European History, Historical Fiction, Romance
Target Age Group: Young Adult

Rating: ★★★★★

Check out this book on Goodreads

Madrid, 1957. Tourists and foreign businessmen flood into Spain under the welcoming guise of sunshine and wine while Spanish citizens are gripped by a dark secret.

Daniel Matheson, the son of an oil tycoon, hopes to connect with the country of his mother's birth through the lens of his camera. Photography -and fate - introduce him to Ana, a hotel maid, whose family is suffering under the fascist dictatorship of General Franco.

Daniel and Ana's lives and hearts collide as they unite to uncover the hidden darkness within the city - a darkness that could engulf them all. . .

 

I knew early in this book that The Fountains of Silence would be a five star read for me.

Ruta Sepetys has such a beautiful writing style that brings the past to life in such a way that it feels modern day, and I absolutely adore it.  The way she wrote… this book made me feel so many different things.  It made me smile, and it clawed at my heart.  It made me angry, as so many of the injustice of history do.  I wanted the love story, and I wanted the sleuthing.  I wanted all of it.  And I also wish that the event that inspired it never had to happen.

The Fountains of Silence revolves around the stories of Daniel and Ana, as well as a few of their loved ones.  We enter the story in the late 1950s, when Franco is still in power and the people of Spain live in a constant state of fear.  The mood of the country came across to the point it gave me chills – and yet?  The artificial cheer of the hotel felt exactly like the way the tourist trade goes, where naive and rich outsiders are encouraged to come and pour some money into the economy and see nothing of the truth.  There are a lot of things going on right away in the story – from Ana’s secret to Daniel’s struggle with his family, to Fuga’s aspirations… every character in this book is keeping secrets and every character wants more, though most as afraid to reach for it.  But this is not a whimsical fantasy and to reach above one’s station can have real, fatal consequences.

In particular, the writing style appealed to me.  While Ruta Sepetys writes very well and brought Madrid to life, I appreciated the snippets and short chapters.  Daniel is a photographer, and each chapter felt like a photograph captured of a moment for each of the different characters.  Not all photographs are pretty – most of them are painful – but the style worked perfectly with the character of the novel.  Even the historical documents and quotes included enhanced the story, and I do not normally enjoy those.  The style of writing also helped keep a brisk, trotting pace, which made the middle feel even more dire as one after another, things began to fall apart.

Fall apart in the best way.  The kind of way that keeps you on the edge of your seat like, “No, nothing else could possibly go wrong… could it?”

It is easy to care about the plot not only because it is based in truth, but because each of the characters is so likable.  They are rounded and real and you absolutely care about what happens to each of them.  Even more detached characters like Fuga and Antonio have something to offer the reader so you want to pick up their torch.  You want to see justice for everyone.  I even found myself rooting for the love story, which longtime blog readers know is untypical for me and my jaded heart.

I’ve heard a few people talking about The Fountains of Silence as one of the good books they read last year, but I am utterly convinced that not enough people have been screaming about it, so let me add my voice to the masses.  The Fountains of Silence is a powerful book about fear and love and injustice and secrets and it is beautiful and heartbreaking and it absolutely must be read.  Don’t read historical fiction?  Start with this book and see if it changes your mind.

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Ratings Breakdown

Setting: ★★★★★
Plot: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Writing: ★★★★★
Pacing: ★★★★★
Narrator: ★★★★★
Personal Enjoyment: ★★★★★
Overall: ★★★★★

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The Fountains of Silence stays on my shelf.

Without a shadow of doubt, I will be keeping this book in my collection.  I was drawn to it when the YA Book of the Month selections were announced (this was actually my “bonus book” because I couldn’t let it go) and even after I’ve finished reading it, I am still thinking about the people who died and lay in the Valley of the Fallen, of the politicians who looked the other way for financial gain, and of the story Puri encourages Daniel to tell.  All of it is raw in my mind and I know that if I devoured this novel once, I will surely devour it again.

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Have you ever been to Spain?  Spain is on my list, but I haven’t made it there yet.  After reading this book, I am tempted to add some sites to my visitation wish list, but many are still controversial… if you’ve been, what area did you visit?  Tell me all about it in the comments!

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2 responses to “The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

    • Amber

      Ooo, I hope you do check it out! It was very good, and I have heard similar echoes throughout the community. It certainly shows the perspective of a less-often discussed aspect of history. Have you read other periods of Spanish history? I haven’t read nearly enough and would be happy for recs. 😀