Thursday, December 26, 2019

Book Review: The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

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BOOK review
Started on: 2 December 2019
Finished on: 17 December 2019

Title: The Fountains of Silence
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Publisher: Philomel Books
Pages: 512 pages / 512 pages (e-book)
Year of Publication: 2019
Price: Rp 148,000 (https://www.periplus.com/)

Rating: 5/5

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"Some were desperate to remember and others were desperate to forget. We all have our reasons."
In the year of 1957, Madrid was under the fascist dictatorship of General Francisco Franco. While tourists and foreign businessmen flood into the country under the welcoming guise of sunshine and wine, Spain is hiding a dark secret. Daniel Matheson, the son of a Texas oil tycoon, came to Madrid with his parents hoping to connect with the country of his mother's birth through the lens of his camera. During his stay at the Castellana Hilton hotel, he met Ana—a girl who's assigned to serve Daniel's family. Daniel has no idea that the condition of Ana's family reveals the lingering grasp of the Spanish Civil War. As Daniel went around, his photographs showed an incredibly dark side to the sunny Spanish city. He is backed into a corner of decisions to protect those he loves.

"Truth breaks the chains of silence." Puri puts a trembling hand to her chest. Her voice drops to a whisper."It sets us all free."
“Sometimes the truth is dangerous, Julia. But we should search for it nonetheless."
I've been a huge fan of Ruta Sepetys ever since I read her debut novel, Between Shades of Gray (it's also one of the earliest book reviews that I wrote on my blog), back in 2011. Historical fiction is not a genre that I always lean towards, but I would read anything that's written by Ruta Sepetys because she's such an incredible storyteller. The way she writes makes me interested in the real history behind her stories. I'm always invested in the characters that she created and I tend to feel attached to them emotionally. That's exactly how I feel when I read this book. To be honest, I'm not really familiar with the history of Spain. I'm not a huge history fan to begin with, and Spain is just not a place that I have a lot of interest in. But I picked up this book anyway solely because it's written by Ruta Sepetys 😂.

This novel is set in Madrid, Spainin the year 1957—so I learned a lot about the Spanish Civil War and what happened afterwards under the dictatorship of Generalisimo Francisco Franco that I've never knew before. Thankfully, throughout the novel (in between chapters), the author includes vintage media interstitials and oral history commentary to help the readers have a better grasp of the situation back then. I think that really helped a lot in understanding the story better. So if you're not a huge fan of history like me, don't worry, you'll be able to enjoy this book well.
"He takes a breath, acknowledging the reality:
A secret never stays secret for long."
"Yes! But fear brings dimension to our lives. Without fear we will never meet courage."
The story is written in third person point of view, but the chapters alternately focuses on different main characters. It took me a while to immerse myself into the story because from the very beginning, the author introduced several characters at once. We're first introduced to the family of five: Julia (the oldest sister) and her husband Antonio, Rafa (the second child), Ana (the youngest), and Julia's daughter, Lali. After the death of their parents, they all struggled to find jobs to sustain themselves because of their parents' opposition to Franco. Ana worked at the Castellana Hilton Hotel, and that's where she met Daniel Matheson, the son of a Texas oil tycoon, whose father is making a deal with Franco himself. However, Daniel is more interested in photography instead of his dad's oil business; so he asked Ana to take him around town to take pictures—which slowly revealed to him Spain's dark side. We also met Puri, Ana's cousin, who works at the Inclusa—a place for Madrid's abandoned or illegitimate children. Puri's curiosity led her to digging into some secrets that were buried inside the Inclusa.

This book is such a page-turner; because each chapters are fairly short and most of them ends on a mysterious note that makes me want to keep reading. There's a lot of mysteries during the first-half of the book and I have a lot of questions about the characters. Everyone seems to have a secret of their own; and the author slowly revealed it through a series of events that increases the tension of the story. One of my favorite scene is when each of the characters went into the confessional booth—which I think is a brilliant way to tell the readers a snippet about the secrets that they've been keeping from one another so far. I won't reveal any details in this review because I think it'll take away the excitement of reading this book. I really enjoyed the plot of the story from start to finish. The dark secret about Spain that was revealed towards the end really surprised me. I never knew that something like that could ever happen, but the history has recorded it—which makes me sad thinking about how those families would feel at the time. The second part of this book took place around 18 years after the events in the first part, when Franco died and Spain is no longer under his dictatorship. Can't really say what happens in the second part because I'll be spoiling the ending; but I'll just say that it really warms my heart and makes me smile. It was a beautiful reunion that I've been hoping for ❤️. I'm glad Ruta Sepetys didn't decide to give a sad ending to this story.
“Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.”
"How can courage be so still, when fear is so powerful?"
Most of the characters in this book are lovable. My favorite one has to be Daniel; because he's a genuinely nice person and very charming too. His character sheds some light in the midst of the dark side of Madrid; and his interaction with Ana is the most adorable thing in this book 🥰. Another favorite character of mine is Rafa. In this book, someone said that Rafa was tortured horribly when he was sent to some reformatory joint. Despite his dark past, Rafa still exudes warmth, enthusiasm, and determination without an ounce of bitterness. I think he's an inspiring character in this book because he keeps being hopeful even though his situation showed him otherwise. He's ecstatic about simple things, and that makes him a lovable character in this book. All the other characters also have their own charms. They're all young adults and innocent youths who struggled through life, having to be silent and keep their secrets concealed.

Overall, I'm really glad I get to read another beautifully written book by Ruta Sepetys and I even got to learn something new about the history of Spain. I truly enjoyed it from start to finish. I wouldn't put this book down if I don't have any other responsibilities because the plot always kept me on the edge of my seat and I'm always curious to see what's going to happen next. This book has touched my heart with its' amazing characters and it definitely left a deep impression in me. I'm definitely looking forward to Ruta Sepetys's next book because I can't wait to read more of her writing!

"Si, life is struggle. But he will commit wholly to the struggle and find meaning in it, rather than trying to silence it. Fear is an unholy ghost, but it is one thing that Franco and the Crows can never take from him—his freedom to fight fear."
by.stefaniesugia♥ .
 

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