Book Review: The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

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Title: The Fountains of Silence
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Philomel Books
Release Date: October 1, 2019
Format: Hardcover/Audiobook
Pages: 512
Source: Personal Collection/Scribd
Rating: ★★★★☆
Amazon / Book Depository

A portrait of love, silence, and secrets under a Spanish dictatorship.

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 promise of sunshine and wine. Among them is eighteen-year-old Daniel Matheson, the son of an 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 difficult decisions to protect those he loves. Lives and hearts collide, revealing an incredibly dark side to the sunny Spanish city.

Includes vintage media reports, oral history commentary, photos, and more.


So I started reading this book and my eye started having issues, making it difficult to read. The book was interesting enough, I just couldn’t read for more than a couple pages at a time before my eye started hurting. So, I checked my library for the audiobook. They had it, but it was going to be six months before I’d get it. I needed to read the book by Thursday the 14th of November for YA Book Club, so I started checking around. One trial subscription to Scribd later, I was listening away to The Fountains of Silence. I’m so glad I didn’t give up on this book.

If you know me at all, you know I’m not a big historical fiction fan. For some reason I just don’t care for it that much. But The Fountains of Silence was the November 14th Barnes & Noble YA Book Club pick, so I decided I’d give it a shot. Like I said above, I was enjoying reading the book but my eye was making it difficult, so I got my mitts on a copy of the audiobook.

The narrator for the audiobook gave it an authentic feel as she had a Spanish accent. This helped a lot, especially to make the parts spoken in Spanish feel more authentic. I loved the narrator and her narration style. It made the audio experience all the more enticing.

I loved, loved, loved Ana and Daniel. I loved that Daniel didn’t just want to use the Spanish culture of the times to get a story, he truly wanted to understand what it was like. He wanted to know what was going on. He wanted to know how the people lived, how they felt. He wasn’t just there to see what was there and take it… unlike Laura Beth and her mother, who literally only what Spain would be able to provide them. I’m sincerely thankful we didn’t have to deal much with Laura Beth as I wasn’t impressed with her at all from the brief interaction we actual get from her.

Ana was beautiful, sweet, and dedicated to her family – and Daniel. I was impressed with the amount of research that had to have gone into the lives and culture of the people to bring Ana and her family to life in the way they were.

I have to say, this is my first Ruta Sepetys book. She has a way of bringing characters to life that I’m truly impressed with. The last chapter of the audiobook was an author’s note read by Ruta herself. She spoke of how she’d fallen in love with the history and culture of Spain when she toured there for her first book and how much research she’d done. She truly brought Spain in the 1950s to life and I can’t wait to read other books of hers.

If you love historical fiction, even if you’re not a young adult (which I most certainly am not), you really must read this book. It’s fascinating, beautifully written, and lively. You won’t be disappointed.