The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys. Philomel, 2019. 512 pages.

The Fountains of Silence tells a gripping story of love and danger during Franco’s Spain in the 1950s. Historical fiction for older teens.

Reading Level: Young Adult, ages 15-18

Recommended For: Young Adults, ages 15-18

Daniel is a budding photographer tagging along with his parents on a business trip to Spain in the 1950s. As a tourist, he sees a beautiful country full of beautiful people, beautiful scenery, and rich traditions. Until he meets Ana, a maid at the hotel. Gradually, as Ana lets down her guard, Daniel begins to know the Spain Ana knows: a Spain ruled by General Franco, dictator to the core. Ana’s family is hiding dark secrets, as is the orphanage around the corner. What is happening to the children of poor mothers?

This is a quick read, despite its hefty page count. Alternative perspectives keep the story moving, unfolding a dark mystery that lurks behind the polished veneer of touristy Spain. Protestants/non-Catholics are heavily persecuted in Franco’s Spain, and Catholic families are prized. Children are so prized that Catholic families will go to terrible lengths to acquire them.

The best historical fiction tells a gripping story while simultaneously illumining a historical time period. The Fountains of Silence certainly does this, but its gripping story involves a dark subject matter. High moral standards (such as the emphasis in Catholic families to be chaste) are contrasted with the seedy underbelly of stolen children. Perceptive, mature readers will also pick up on the predatory nature of some relationships between men in power and women working in positions like Ana’s. The ending wraps up a bit too neatly, but many readers will find the story fascinating and thought-provoking, despite its dark content.

Considerations:

  • Gruesome (mental) images: be forewarned! There are some disturbing images in this book related to violence and children. (not sexual violence)
  • There is a high value of life in this book, something we can absolutely endorse! Infants and children are highly valued, sometimes at great sacrifice.
  • At the end of the book, it appears that the main couple is “together,” but it is unclear whether they are married. The end of the book takes place roughly 20 years after the primary story in the book.

Overall Rating: 4 (out of 5)

  • Worldview/Moral Rating: 4.25 out of 5
  • Literary/Artistic Rating: 3.75 out of 5

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Betsy

Betsy is the Managing Editor at Redeemed Reader. When she reads ahead for you, she uses sticky notes instead of book darts and willfully dog ears pages even in library books. Betsy is a fan of George MacDonald, robust book discussions, and the Oxford comma. She lives with her husband and their three children in the beautiful Northwest.

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