As soon as I picked up this book from this year’s TLA conference I knew I had to read it immediately. I am a huge fan of Sepetys novels. She writes so thoughtfully and you can tell how much research goes into each of her historical fiction novels.
Title: The Fountains of Silence
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Publishing Date: October 22, 2019
Publishing Company: Philomel Books
Add It: Goodreads
Order It: Amazon
The Fountains of Silence takes place in Madrid, Spain in 1957. In the aftermath of World War II, most European countries are no longer under dictatorship, but Spain is still at the mercy of their ruthless Catholic dictator Francisco Franco. Most of the Red Republicans from the war have been arrested, sentenced to death, or worked in labor camps to death. Their children and relatives are still suffering under Franco’s rule and things aren’t as they seem.
Daniel is recently 18. His dad is an oil tycoon in Texas and expects Daniel to follow suit with a petroleum degree from Texas A&M. Daniel loves photography and wants more than anything to travel the world and photograph the truth. He is applying for a prestigious scholarship to his dream photography program, much to the chagrin of his father who does not believe photography is the right career path for Daniel. Daniel’s mother is a native Spaniard so for Daniel’s last summer between high school and college Daniel’s mother takes them to the new Hilton hotel in Madrid.
The maid assigned to Daniel’s family is Ana who is around Daniel’s age. She is mysterious and beautiful. She is also the daughter of a Republican and lives in extreme poverty with her older sister, a seamstress, and her husband and their daughter as well as her brother who is a gravedigger by day and aspiring bull fighter promoter by night.
This story is told in many alternating points of view which helps us get a good grasp on the mysterious backstory of both Ana and Daniel and their extremely different families. Though Ana and Daniel are the main characters we do get POV from many of their family members and friends in addition to their chapters. Sepetys also gives us snippets of documentation of the history of Spain during this time to help support the historical part of this novel.
Ana and Daniel were both very relateable characters. I was very excited about Daniel’s character in the beginning because he is from a Texas oil family (much like I am) and is suppose to be attending Texas A&M (my alma mater). He also loves photography which is one of my hobbies. I love the way the author would describe his photographs. Even though you couldn’t see them in the book her imagery made you be able to picture what his photographs must look like. Ana is also very relateable even though the majority of the readers of this book probably won’t be living like Ana. She is empathetic, hardworking, smart, courageous, and a typical teen who falls head over heels in love for the wrong boy.
There is so much mystery in the plot of this book sometimes you feel like you have no idea what is going on, but the author does a good job at giving you pieces of the answer to the mystery one at a time. I was on the edge of my seat trying to figure out the final twist in this book until the moment it was revealed. Even though the main twist is heart wrenching, there are also many smaller plot mysteries happening in this book that make you unable to put down this book despite the length.
I 1000% think everyone needs to pick up this book. I will not reveal the historical terror that this book is based upon because it will most likely give away the ending, but this is a piece of history I knew nothing about and don’t think many people do, because even though this happened in the 1950s the documentation of the horrible events in this book did not come about until the 2010s. You need to read this! Seriously, I gave this 5 stars.