Summary (from the publisher):
Madrid, 1957. Under the fascist dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, Spain is hiding a dark secret. Meanwhile, tourists and foreign businessmen flood into Spain under the welcoming guise of sunshine and wine. Among them is eighteen-year-old Daniel Matheson, the son of a Texas oil tycoon, who arrives in Madrid with his parents hoping to connect with the country of his mother’s birth through the lens of his camera. Photography–and fate–introduce him to Ana, whose family’s interweaving obstacles reveal the lingering grasp of the Spanish Civil War–as well as chilling definitions of fortune and fear. Daniel’s photographs leave him with uncomfortable questions amidst shadows of danger. He is backed into a corner of decisions to protect those he loves. Lives and hearts collide, revealing an incredibly dark side to the sunny Spanish city.
Master storyteller Ruta Sepetys once again shines light into one of history’s darkest corners in this epic, heart-wrenching novel about identity, unforgettable love, repercussions of war, and the hidden violence of silence–inspired by the true postwar struggles of Spain.
My Rating: 5/5 Stars
I read Ruta Sepetys’ Between Shades of Gray during my senior year of high school while home sick a few days. I felt that I had learned more from that book than I would have if I were in school those datys. Within that same month, I also read her two other books, Out of the Easy and Salt to the Sea.
Why this short trip down my Ruta Sepetys memory lane? I have been basically waiting for The Fountains of Silence since having read all three of her books in February 2017! The Fountains of Silence was one of my most anticipated books EVER and it was definitely a must-grab during Book Expo.
Salt to the Sea and Between Shades of Gray take place during WWII and Out of the Easy in in 1950s New Orleans. Ruta Sepetys’ latest release takes a different route that has rarely been done in YA historical fiction, taking place in 1950s, Franco-era Spain. It’s 1957 Madrid and Americans are flooding into Spain, including amateur photographer Daniel. Daniel finds himself captivated by the country and Ana, a young maid at Daniel’s hotel with dark secrets of her own. Ana’s family has faced many struggles under Franco’s dictatorship, and she must decide if she can trust Daniel despite everything she has been taught. As Ruta Sepetys describes at the end of the novel, Daniel is very much like the reader, an American from the outside looking in. Despite his desire, he cannot truly understand Ana and the others’ struggles living in this dictatorship.
The Fountains of Silence met my expectations and more. I admit that I was nervous about the 1950s Spain setting because I love her Ruta Sepety’s work set during World War II. I took a history class on the World Wars during my sophomore year of college and we only briefly covered Franco and Spain (let alone VERY briefly covering it in high school American history class). The Fountains of Silence was just such an emotional and educational experience. The chapters are divided into sections with some sort of historical and government documentation describing life in Spain or the U.S.’s relationship with the country at the time. I can definitely see The Fountains of Silence being taught in high school history and literature classes.
Like Ruta Sepetys’ other books, The Fountains of Silence is simply a book that you won’t be able to let go during and after reading. Fans of Salt to the Sea will especially enjoy this one, as it is told through the third person perspective through many characters. Ruta Sepetys’ writing reminded me a bit of Markus Zusak’s in The Book Thief and Bridge of Clay, with much less figurative language. However, she still provided such vivid imagery and character development through the third person perspective while also weaving larger themes.
And no worries, there are definitely some gasp-worthy moments. Without being too spoilery, one of the biggest mysteries in the novel surrounds adoption agencies and newborns in Franco-era Spain. This plot line was something I have never learned about, so it was very intriguing and often heart-breaking to learn about this very true and unfortunate time. I did not expect some of the character’s revelations and connections to one another, which again reminded me of Salt to the Sea.
Overall, The Fountains of Silence is such a unique and important read in YA historical fiction. Ruta Sepetys is such a fantastic cross-over author between YA and adult fiction because her characters and stories are so mature and have such importance. Fans of historical fiction across age groups will absolutely devour her fantastic storytelling. She is definitely one of my auto-buy and auto-buy authors—The Fountains of Silence should be an auto-buy or auto-borrow-from-the library for all.
This review is based on an advance uncorrected galley. Receiving this ARC from the publisher did not affect my thoughts or opinions.
About Ruta Sepetys:
Ruta Sepetys (www.rutasepetys.com) is an internationally acclaimed, #1 New York Times bestselling author of historical fiction published in over sixty countries and forty languages. Sepetys is considered a “crossover” novelist, as her books are read by both teens and adults worldwide. Her novels Between Shades of Gray, Out of the Easy, and Salt to the Sea have won or been shortlisted for more than forty book prizes, and are included on more than sixty state award lists. Between Shades of Gray was adapted into the film Ashes in the Snow, and her other novels are currently in development for TV and film. Winner of the Carnegie Medal, Ruta is passionate about the power of history and literature to foster global awareness and connectivity. She has presented to NATO, to the European Parliament, in the United States Capitol, and at embassies worldwide. Ruta was born and raised in Michigan and now lives with her family in Nashville, Tennessee. Follow her on Twitter @RutaSepetys and Instagram @RutaSepetysAuthor.
Is The Fountains of Silence on your TBR? Have you read any books by Ruta Sepetys? Share in the comments!