A lot of the time, I pick up historical novels because I want to learn more about particular time period and place or the people who lived then and there. Before reading The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys, I had no knowledge of Spain’s history and what occurred during the Francoist dictatorship. Through rich historical details and an assortment of characters, Ruta Sepetys once more sheds light on stories that have been silenced.
Madrid, 1957. Daniel Matheson, the son of a Texas oil tycoon, visits Madrid with his family in hopes of connecting with the country of his mother’s birth. But when he meets Ana, a girl who works at the hotel and whose family life reveals the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, everything changes. The photos he’s taken of Spain reveal the dark secrets of the fascist dictatorship of General Francisco Franco and place himself and those he cares about, including Ana, into danger.
When I first started reading The Fountains of Silence, I was afraid. The book was long, the chapters jumped from character to character, there wasn’t any compelling plot thread tying everything together. But Ruta Sepetys has a way of taking these pieces of a story and weaving them together alongside the historical setting details to create a masterpiece that left me in tears.
Not knowing anything about Spain’s history, I was eager to understand, much like Daniel, what was happening to the characters. But even with all the intricate details woven into this story, I will never be able to understand everything. The things that happened during this time period are gut-wrenching, and it’s truly incredible what the people of Spain did to live. I am so grateful to Ruta for taking the time to explore and research stories that aren’t as prominent in the history books. Reading this book opened my eyes to other experiences.
This book is advertised as a historical YA book, but I wish it wasn’t. The stories told between these pages are much more complicated than that. Many adults who enjoy historical fiction would find this book compelling. The Fountains of Silence is a phenomenal story. If you’ve enjoyed Ruta’s other books or if you like historical fiction, read this book.