Saturday, December 28, 2019

The Fountains of Silence

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. - excerpt from Goodreads

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys is her latest work this year and it has been the longest time ever for me. I first fell in love with her writing through The Salt of the Sea and it was such an amazing book. This book is no exception, it is just as phenomenal. I am truly grateful to have received this from Times read for review. Written in a setting relating to a historical event, her book is inspired by the Spanish Civil War specifically the post war period. She has spent 8 years of researching for this book, so I am happy that it had all worked out for her. With multiple character views in alternating chapters, you get so much different perspective from different backgrounds.

Our male lead is from America and our female lead is a native of Spain, how they intertwine seems simple at first but more and more involvement pushes the story forward. While other characters might be on the sidelines, their growth is also eminent through the alternating chapters you read from the book. Slowly the connection between these characters will show through the plot twists. The mix of the Spanish language into the book gives you a flair of their culture so its funny to learn simple words from reading. Every time Daniel and Ana interacts, you could feel the attraction and how Ana is holding back because of her background. Both character's personality sort of compliments each other, encouraging each other's growth as well.

Even though this is fiction, I love how the author highlights the post war effect. The poverty, novelty and the effect of people's mind set after a war and then having a dictator to govern the country. The fear and poverty is something that future generations should learn from, that is what history means to me, learning from the past to be better for the future. The plots of the story is driven by the actions and thoughts of all the characters and the best part is how everything will connect and give you the best ending you could have asked for. There are inserts of oral history commentary in between chapters which lets the reader understand the situation of that period of time. I highly applaud the effort the author has put in.

When reading this book, the key point that you obtained from it is the author's intention for such a story. In her notes after you have finished the book, you will learn her purpose of writing it. Here is what I would remember from Ruta's words:

"My hope is that this novel might inspire others to conduct their own research in an effort to learn, grow, and build bridges that will endure the test of time and historical memory. When that happens, history will no longer stand between us, it will flow through us."

I highly recommend this book as it has sparked my interest in historical fiction and it definitely inspired me to research more on history that is outside of my home. The impact of history is often shown through the actions of men after their trauma and struggles. Let's not forget the sacrifice our ancestors gave us and treasure our present world.

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