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The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

March 6, 2020

“You trust too easily, Ana. You reveal too much. Stay silent.” Ana is tired of silence, tired of unanswered questions, and tired of secrets. A girl of patched pieces, she dreams of new beginnings. She dreams of leaving Spain. But her sister is right. Her dreams have proven dangerous.

It’s 1957 in Madrid, Spain, in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War. Spain is under the dangerously strict dictatorship of Francisco Franco. Ana lives with her sister and brother in constant fear of  the Gaurdia Civil finding out who their parents’ loyalty was to. Ana works at an American hotel—Castellana Hilton—where she meets eighteen-year-old Daniel, who comes to Spain from Texas with his parents for his father’s oil business and, through his photography, is learning that the real Spain is not the one presented to Americans. Ana struggles to survive in a Spain filled with danger and fear and come to terms with her past, while Daniel is just starting to discover the secrets of Spain.

I loved how Sepetys crafted main characters with unforgettable stories. This was important because there are four characters the reader follows, so it helps for them to each have a memorable life for each perspective to be important.

The Fountains of Silence is historical fiction although Sepetys includes excerpts from real historical documents of the time period, with world leaders and newspapers expressing what their perspective on Spain was. This gives readers a feel for what Spain was like at the time. Sepetys also includes pictures at the end of the book, all of which give the reader historical information on Spain.

The third person narrative made it possible for Sepetys to include four different perspectives: Daniel and Ana, as well as Ana’s brother Rafael, who is trying to forget the horrible memories of his childhood spent in a boys home in Barcelona and helps his friend Fuga escape his memories by bullfighting. Puri, the fourth point of view, is Ana’s cousin who works at an Inclusa and tries to be the perfect Spainyard, but when she starts to discover who the orphans really are it’s hard for her to ignore the secrets of around the Inclusa. I thought this was effective because it gives very different perspectives on Spain in 1957 because of each character’s childhood and family background.

I thought this was a fast paced book because readers always want to learn what is going on in another character’s life. When you finish a character’s chapter you want to learn what will happen to them next, so you just have to read the next few chapters.

I rate this book a ten out of ten and recommend it to anyone who would like to read a well written novel on the secrets of Spain’s past through the narrative of well crafted characters. Sepetys has also written Between Shades of Gray and Salt to the Sea. I have only read Between Shades of Gray and really enjoyed it. The Fountains of Silence is a book of survival, friendship, and truth and will leave you looking beyond what is presented to you.

Ruth

Philomel Books, 472 pages


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