November 3, 2019
Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Post Spanish Civil War Spain, YA, Family, Love Story
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In 1957, Madrid, Spain is under the control of the fascist dictator General Francisco Franco. While citizens endure harsh conditions of the dictatorship after the Spanish Civil War, tourists experience another version of life in Spain as they enjoy parties and wine at the Hilton Hotel. Eighteen-year-old Daniel is a hotel guest, a photographer, and the son of a Texas oil tycoon; his mother was born in Spain and Daniel is eager to visit her homeland. Ana works at the hotel as a maid. Daniel and Ana meet and fall in love. While Ana is simultaneously intrigued by American life and concerned for her family, Daniel sets his mind to capture the real Spain in photos and finds himself investigating the plight of stolen children. The circumstances surrounding their love story are difficult for them to navigate.
Writing: After reading previous works by Ruta Sepetys (Salt to the Sea and Between Shades of Gray), I know that she’s an author I can trust to take me anywhere. Her descriptive writing is beautiful! Sepetys is known as a cross-over author in that adults enjoy her YA titles. I never feel like I’m reading a typical YA selection when I read one of her stories. Sepetys is highly respected for the impressive amount of research she invests in her historical fiction work. Readers will not be disappointed with the research, the quality of her writing, or the multilayered family drama. At the beginning of the story, The Fountains of Silence has quite a few characters to navigate. Even though you might feel challenged with the multiple points of view, you can trust her to bring it all together. I think the setting descriptions and historical situation will engage you until you are completely comfortable with the characters. Candidly, I think the cast of characters could have been trimmed a bit. I wonder if the YA audience will be engaged by the multitude of characters. SPOILER AHEAD: I’m not too thrilled with the gap of time that occurred in the Daniel/Ana relationship. However, I am happy with how everything turned out!
Characters: Daniel and Ana are memorable and likable! Daniel is a rugged and “I’ll fix it” cowboy type who has lived a privileged life and Ana is a courageous, brave, and beautiful working girl who is completely devoted to her family. Their relationship is harrowing, heartfelt, and complicated. As mentioned above, there is quite a large cast of characters which could challenge some readers.
Plot: The plot of The Fountains of Silence is compelling and complex on a personal and historical level. I didn’t know anything about Spain during this time period and I feel like I learned a lot….and more after Googling! I even peppered my husband with questions and then we both Googled! The plot will reveal the significance of the title and I won’t spoil that for you here. I love the multilayered aspect of the story!
Themes: In addition to a love story, The Fountains of Silence includes thoughtful themes of family, friendship, found family, adoption, injustice, risk-taking, secrets, and walls of silence.
Recommended: I highly recommend The Fountains of Silence for fans of well-written and well- researched historical fiction, for readers who might have lived in or visited Spain, for those who love feisty, independent, risk-taking main characters, and for book clubs. Mature YA readers and adults will appreciate this story. In a nod to the YA genre, there is a wee bit of “insta love”!
My Rating: 4.5 Stars
Meet the Author, Ruta Sepetys
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Do you think post-Spanish Civil War is an interesting historical time period?
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