The Fountains of Silence

Written by Ruta Sepetys
Review by Meg Wiviott

Spain’s brutal Civil War between Republican democracy and Francisco Franco’s fascist dictatorship lasted from 1936-1939 and was a precursor to World War II. After his victory, Franco “El Caudillo” (The Leader) purged the country of anyone associated with the Republic, forcing many Spaniards to hide their identities in order to survive. During the summer of 1957, the height of Franco’s dictatorship, Daniel visits Madrid with his father, a Texan oilman, and his Spanish-born mother. Through his interest in photojournalism, Daniel gradually peels back the veneer of Madrid to discover the darker, more frightening underbelly of fascist rule. After befriending Ana, a hotel maid trying to outrun her parents’ infamy; Rafa, Ana’s brother, who is trying to overcome memories of an oppressive boys’ home; and Puri, their cousin, who cares for babies awaiting adoption, Daniel decides Franco’s atrocities must be exposed to the world.

Told in third-person chapters from Daniel, Ana, Rafa, and Puri’s points of view, The Fountains of Silence is an exquisitely crafted story filled with secrets, dangers, romance, and hope. Sepetys’s research is exhaustive (yet not exhausting) and quickly grounds the reader in the center of a city filled with beauty, sunshine, brutality, and dark secrets. For readers ages 12 and up, this story shines light on a piece of history unfamiliar to many. It is stunning in its beauty and scope. This is a must read.