Book Review: The Fountains of Silence

Hi, everyone! Welcome back. Becks here today to bring you a review on one of the more highly anticipated releases of 2019 and
that is The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys. I do want to note that
this is an advanced readers copy. It was sent to me at my request from
Penguin Random House, so thank you to them for sending this to me a little bit
early. Ruta Sepetys writes award-winning
young adult historical fiction. If you think the name sounds familiar it’s
because, a few years ago, she wrote Between Shades of Grey, which had a huge
amount of success and it was actually made into a movie that was released in
2018 called Ashes in the Snow. This book is also young adult historical fiction,
as is her style, except it takes place in Madrid, Spain in 1957. This book does have
multiple point of views, but I would kind of consider Daniel to be the main
character. He’s 18-years-old, he’s recently graduated from high school, and
he’s travelled from Dallas, Texas to Madrid. Daniel’s parents decided to go to
Spain on business and Daniel tagged along because his mom wanted him to
experience Spain since she was born there and Daniel was raised speaking
Spanish in the household. So, while Daniel’s parents are off doing business
stuff, Daniel has a lot of free time to befriend the people working at the hotel, befriend other Spaniards, and then also work on his photography, which is his big
passion. His dad is a Texas oil tycoon and wants Daniel to join the business,
but of course Daniel doesn’t want to do that. He wants to go to journalism school
and travel the world taking photos like some of his favorite idols. One of
the people that Daniel befriends is Ana. She’s another one of the very
prevalent point of views that we get in this story and they sort of have a bit
of a thing going on as is very common in young adult novels. So, we do have a bit
of romance in here and then we also follow a few other characters that are
all Spaniards living in Spain. if you’re someone that
knows a bit about history, you may remember that in 1957, this was during
the dictatorship under General Francisco Franco. Following the Spanish Civil War
he was in power for many, many years. One of the things Ruta does so well is
taking this historical time period and integrating it in with the character’s
thoughts and feelings, slipping in little side notes about stuff that make you
want to learn more. I know a little bit about the Spanish Civil War and the
dictatorship that followed, but I would definitely consider it very, very small. I
don’t think there was ever a time in school where we really talked about it
other than it being mentioned in passing amongst other things going on, so reading
this book gave me a chance to learn a lot about it. The bunch of stuff in the
back of this book is just research and sources that Ruta used to write this
book, so you know that when you get one of her books she has done her research
and it’s so impressive. I learned a lot from this book and that’s something that
I loved about it because I do love reading to learn.
That’s why nonfiction is my favorite genre of book. One thing that I do like
about having a book with multiple point of views in a historical setting is that
you get to see the situation from a bunch of different points of view. So, we
have Daniel who is the American who is walking into this situation who really
doesn’t know anything. We have Ana who’s grown up without parents because they
were killed during the time of the war. We have Ana’s cousin, Puri, who works at
the Inclusa, which is run by the government and it’s an orphanage and
then we also get a few other people that live in this sort of not-so-great area
outside of Madrid. Having those multiple points of view gives you the ability to
learn a lot because if you’re only reading from Daniel’s point of view,
you’re only gonna see what he understands. By hearing from Ana and
Puri and a few other characters, we’re able to get a bigger picture of what was
going on at that time. As far as the writing goes for this book, I would say I
could kind of take it or leave it. There were certain quotes that the characters
say that are so beautiful, but I wouldn’t really consider Ruta’s writing
to be like flowery and fill up the page. It was very much about what the
characters were thinking and the conversations that they were having with
other characters. The dialogue is very prevalent in this book, whether its
internal or actually speaking to another character on the page. So, I wouldn’t say
this is like a beautifully written book, but that’s not why I want to read her
books. I read it for the historical setting and getting to learn so much and
then also hopefully getting attached to the characters as the story goes on and
I did definitely get attached to these characters. As is also the case with a lot of Ruta’s books, there is a lot of heavy, emotional stuff going on and
although I didn’t cry or anything like that, I could definitely feel that weight
of realizing that although this particular situation of this character
going through this experience is fictional,
it is based off of an actual experience that somebody had that Ruta may have
researched or even interviewed. One thing that I didn’t really love about the book
was how short the chapters were. Because it follows multiple points of view, a lot
of times when you finished a chapter you were jumping to somebody else and
sometimes the chapters were a page and a half long. I think the longest one was
probably four pages. They were very short, which some people may really like
because they like being able to read a couple chapters, put a book down, and not
feel like they need to read 30 pages. I mean, I don’t love super long chapters
either, but I would have preferred if the chapters in this book had been a bit
longer because I felt like every time we were really diving into somebody’s point
of view, really learning about them, it would get cut off and then we would jump
to somebody else and I wanted to know what was gonna happen
with the other perspective first. It just- I didn’t really love how that was done,
so that was my least favorite part of my reading experience with this. Something
else that I enjoyed about this book was every so often, in between different chapters,
there would be quotes from newspapers or actual oral interviews with people who
worked at the consulate in Madrid at the time
or even after the time period that this book is set. One time there was even a
quote from a textbook, but it gave you a little bit of insight into what might be
coming up in the next few chapters but it also was cool, at least to me, because it
was actual source material. Some people might think it would take them out of
the story, but because this is such a historical book, it really worked for me.
In the end I decided to rate this book four stars. It’s an excellent YA book.
It’s an excellent historical fiction book as well that I think certain adults
may also enjoy. If you’re someone that’s hesitant to get into nonfiction and
you’re looking for a book that might help bridge the gap, I think this is a
really good one to pick up because it is still historical fiction, young adult but
there’s a lot of nonfiction elements in it so I think that might help you sort
of get a vibe for if you might want to pick up a fully nonfiction book at some
point in the future. This is definitely one of those quality young adult books,
particularly in regards to the content. If you have read The Fountains of
Silence, please let me know what you thought of it down below. Let me know if
you’ve read any other Ruta Sepetys books and what you thought of them. I
really did like Between Shades of Grey and Salt to the Sea. Not as big of a fan
of Out of the Easy, which I feel like is a pretty common opinion, but let me know
if you enjoyed that book too. As always, all of our links are in the downbar so
you can go check those out if you feel so inclined. Thank you guys very much for
watching and I’ll see you later! [music playing]

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