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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Salt to the Sea and Between Shades of Gray comes a gripping, unforgettable portrait of love, silence, and secrets amidst 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 the country 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, reveali…

The Fountains of Silence

by Ruta Sepetys

Overall Book Review:

The Fountains of Silence is a beautiful, heart-wrenching story of a group of young people making their way through incredibly tumultuous times in Franco-era Spain.  Full of imagery, vignettes from historical documents, and pictures from the era, this book should make it to your reading pile and quickly.

The setting of this book is Spain from roughly the 1940’s to 1970’s.  The author does a masterful job of describing the buildings and neighborhoods during those periods.  Details are given not only in the macro view, but also in the micro, which allows for a very rich reading experience and makes you feel like you are standing in the middle of the street looking around and experiencing all the sights and sounds.

I loved the characters in this novel.  Each were distinctive and were so creatively crafted.  I was very surprised at how well both characters from Texas and from Spain were captured.  It was easy to understand Ana’s desire to be youthful and free and yet her hesitation and carefulness not to endanger her family during a time of strict regulation.  Daniel was so quintessentially Texas.  Right down to the belt buckle and boots.  The surrounding cast of characters seemed so perfectly placed throughout the book and fit so seamlessly into the settings that the book was a pleasure to read.

Franco-era Spain is a time period fraught with questions and difficult answers, when answers can be found.  I can understand why the author took eight years to research this novel.  While fiction, the book very easily could be non-fiction and is an inspiring springboard into doing more research and reading on the topics included.  The small vignettes that are laced throughout the book from U.S. archives add credibility and color to the book that makes the storyline that much more real-life.

This is a long book, but every page is worth the time it takes to read, and I would highly recommend this book to all readers.

Review of an Advance Reading Copy

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Philomel

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  2 religious exclamations; 6 mild obscenities; 1 derogatory name; 1 scatological word; 2 anatomical terms.

Violence and Gore:  Two instances of men being shot; dead baby depicted; man slammed against wall; recall of torture at orphanage; recall of beating; report of death by landmine; coffin smashed; four reports of bullfighting injuries with gory details; bloody fist fight; exhumation of graves and coffins; bloody slaughterhouse; amputated gangrenous hand; man held by lapel; gun held to head; verbal threat; death of friends and family.

Sex and Nudity:  Hand on arm; four instances of hand holding; hand on back twice; nibble on ear; five instances of kissing; two sexual innuendo; hand on male chest; woman sits on man’s lap.

Mature Subject Matter:

Religious, political and socioeconomic conflict; death of family and friends; war; divorce; separation; gender inequality; poverty; child abuse; marriage infidelity; ethics; murder; child trafficking.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Adults smoke and drink various forms of alcohol.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

I am a full-time mom, full-time wife, and overtime reader. I have been an avid reader for as long as anyone can remember. It must run in the family because both my mother and grandmother are also voracious readers and often pass books back and forth. Almost any genre can spark my interest, but I often go in streaks, reading a bunch of books from one genre, then switching to another for a while and back again.