The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys. Philomel, 2019. 9780399160318
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5
Genre: Historical fiction/romance
What did you like about the book? This affecting novel brings to life the frightening and divisive reign of Spain’s Francisco Franco. Ana’s parents were killed by Franco’s henchman for trying to open a school. She lives in poverty with her siblings, and works at the elegant and cosmopolitan Castellana Hilton in Madrid. Daniel, the son of an American oil tycoon, is staying at the hotel, as his father has been given permission to drill for oil in Spain. They meet, and instantly there are sparks. However, the stakes are too high for Ana, as the social and moral code for her behavior is very strict, and there are too many secrets that must be kept silent. Daniel, a photographer, with a drive to document what he sees, tests the strictures of a country that has been torn apart by a fascist dictator. As the two dance around their attraction, they wrestle with “the cost of silence.” Another thread present in the story is the nascent evidence that the regime was stealing babies from women after childbirth, telling mothers that their babies died, and selling them for adoption. Viewpoints from Ana, Daniel, and Ana’s siblings and cousin present different points of view, enriching the understanding of life in post-Civil War Spain. Excerpts from newspapers and interviews appear at the starts of chapters, so that the reader does not forget that the horrors of the story really happened. The author cleverly draws out the final romantic conclusion, which takes place over a decade after the initial sparks fly, thereby underscoring the hardships of love during such a repressive time. The story flies by, with dialogue-rich text, lots of action and danger, and short chapters.
The author provides a significant look at her research at the end, with notes, sources, a Spanish language glossary and photographs.
Anything you didn’t like about it? No
To whom would you recommend this book? For lovers of historical fiction/romance, where factual accuracy is desired, for ages 16 and up.
Who should buy this book? High schools and public libraries
Where would you shelve it ? Teen or adult fiction
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes if you’re into historical fiction.
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, Ma
Date of review: November 14, 2019