Trigger Warning: This novel and review discuss the following: baby kidnapping, extreme religion, Franco Spain, communism, gore, murder, death.
Goodreads Rating: 4.5 Stars
Sepetys knocked me out again with her beautifully poetic and heartbreaking novel, The Fountain of Silence. Set in Madrid, Spain in 1957 during the Franco dictatorship, her two main characters, Daniel and Ana, find themselves handling more than a blossoming summer love.
Daniel’s oil-tycoon father and Spanish mother return to Madrid on a secret mission, so Daniel is left to keep himself occupied by working on taking photographs for a photography contest. He has a keen eye, and as he explores the lavish hotel and beautiful but post-Civil War-torn city, he finds plenty of things to capture with his lens- including the beauty of his family’s specific hotel attendant, Ana. Soon, the two are becoming fast friends, and shortly, Daniel is introduced to her circle of friends. Before he knows it, Daniel is feeling a connection to his mother’s homeland as if it were his own.
However, Ana knows the truth. What Daniel is yet to see is the seedy underside of Spain, one the tourists don’t see, one that is ruled by Franco, a place where the people struggle to survive despite their resilience. Resilience doesn’t stop the hunger, or the secrets that eat from the inside out. As Daniel starts to understand, and Ana’s guard starts to come down, they know that they could both be in danger.
The beauty of a Sepetys novel, as I’ve come to find, is that though it may be written and billed as Young Adult, her writing is so poignant, her character and plot development so strong, that adults won’t feel like they are reading a YA novel. She displays such grit to her narrative, never shying away from the reality that history doesn’t have an age limit, and we are all products of the world around us- no matter how harsh it is. To dive into such a novel about the Franco dictatorship, the kidnapping and selling of children, the innocents of a war-torn country… it leaves a lasting emotional impact on the reader. Sepetys executes this task flawlessly.
Historical fiction fans will want to get their hands on The Fountains of Silence, and not let go.
Published: October 1, 2019
Publisher: Philomel Books
TL/DR: The Fountain of Silence by Ruta Sepetys is a historical YA fiction about the Franco dictatorship and a young couple who take a peek into the dark side of Spain.
Read it? Yes, a must read.
Recommend it? Absolutely. Sepetys does not disappoint.
Buy it? Yes! Definitely one that, because of it’s complexities, you could reread and still be shocked at the ending.
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