{Review} The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

Posted November 4, 2019 by Leah in Reviews / 1 Comment

{Review} The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

The Fountains of Silence

by Ruta Sepetys
Pages: 512
Published on October 1, 2019
by Philomel Books
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Format: ARC, Hardcover
Source: Amazon Vine, Library
Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

Also by this author: Salt to the Sea

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 post-war struggles of Spain.

3 Stars

Ruta Sepetys has made a name for herself with her historical fiction, portraying events not often written about. I’ve only read her previous work, Salt to the Sea, but I inhaled that book over two days. It was an impactful, well rounded book featuring multiple points of view that added solid dimensions to the story. The Fountains of Silence uses multiple characters to explore Franco’s Spain in the 1950s, taking a look at the oppression of Spain’s people and the privilege of a young American who’s visiting Madrid with his family.

I’m going to admit I didn’t know much about Franco’s rule, so seeing the different perspectives through the eyes of the characters in The Fountains of Silence was an introduction to the world. Sepetys took several years to research 1950s Spain and it shows. The centerpiece of the book is the hotel: made to look lush in a world that is oppressing its own people.

I could see what the book was aiming for: highlighting a nation-wide tragedy. Where The Fountains of Silence stumbles for me is finding that balance between its characters.

There are five central characters in the book. Daniel is the naive, well meaning outsider. Ana is a young girl who dreams of leaving Spain and seeing the world, but her life is confined to working at the hotel and her family’s small home. Ana’s sister, Julia, is raising an infant and only wants the best for her family; Rafa, their brother, who yearns to be a bullfighter and show Franco he’s not afraid; and their cousin Puri, who works with babies and young children in an orphanage. Each of these characters stands for something different–different beliefs, different views–while trying to survive.

Most of these characters never quite felt real to me. There were also times when I forgot about one of the characters or wanted to know more about one character in particular than another. This is the tricky part from writing multiple points of view: sometimes the reader will latch on to one character instead of the whole, and this was definitely my case.

You know I appreciate an excellent love story. Romance can be written about in a turning point in history. It’s been done successfully numerous times before. The romance between Daniel and Ana is…unnecessary. I didn’t believe in it. I didn’t really want it. If the focus had been what is going on in Spain with the seeds of something more between Ana and Daniel, or better yet, been solely focus of Ana, this would have been a stronger novel. However, I do believe The Fountains of Silence will start many conversations though, and inspire readers to look in to the history behind the book.


About Ruta Sepetys

Ruta Sepetys (Rūta Šepetys) is an internationally acclaimed author of historical fiction published in over fifty countries and thirty-six languages. Sepetys is considered a “crossover” novelist as her books are read by both students and adults worldwide. Her novels, Between Shades of Gray and Out of the Easy are both New York Times bestsellers, international bestsellers, and Carnegie Medal nominees. Salt to the Sea, her latest novel, was an instant bestseller and debuted at #2 on the New York Times list. Her books have won or been shortlisted for over forty book prizes, are included on over twenty state reading lists, and have been selected for several all-city read programs.
Ruta is the daughter of a Lithuanian refugee. Born in Michigan, she was raised in a family of artists, readers, and music lovers. Ruta attended college to study opera but instead graduated with a degree in International Finance. Prior to publishing her first novel, she spent twenty years in the music industry helping artists and songwriters distill story through song.
Sepetys is the first American crossover novelist to address both European Parliament and Library of Congress. She was awarded The Rockefeller Foundation’s prestigious Bellagio Resident Fellowship for Salt to the Sea.
Ruta was recently bestowed the Cross of the Knight of the Order by the President of Lithuania for her contributions to education and memory preservation. She is intensely proud to be Lithuanian, even if that means she has a name no one can pronounce.
Ruta lives in a treehouse in the hills of Tennessee.



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One response to “{Review} The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

  1. I know a little bit about this time period from briefly covering it in class, but it was very brief coverage and I think there was only one presentation on it for like, half an hour or something. So I would be interested in learning a bit more by reading this one! A shame that the characters never feel very real, or can get forgotten as there are quite a few :/

    Olivia Roach recently posted: A Dream So Dark [Book Review]

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