5 Characters Who Represent Franco’s Spain in The Fountains of Silence

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Title: The Fountains of Silence
Author: Ruta Sepetys

Pages: 512
Format: Print
Genre: Young Adult | Historical Fiction

Release Date: October 1 2019
Publisher: Philomel Books

representation: n/a
content warnings: death, illness, religious discrimination

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Highlights of this novel include the chance to learn about the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, particularly from the perspective of an outsider (which I think most of us would be?); short chapters to keep you engaged; and an intertwined mystery that ties the five PoVs together.

On the other hand, some downsides include a dragging beginning and a fast-paced end; vague cliffhangers that don’t get revealed until several pages later (to the point you almost forgot about them); and an over-reliance on certain lines (such as variations on “I need to keep secrets” / “I know how to keep secrets”).

Our of the now four books by Ruta Sepetys that I have read, this will be the one I rank last. The mystery never quite gripped me and when it began to unravel, it all happened so fast I never had a chance to become involved. I have no true feelings about this book, other than a great desire to learn more. Since I lack so much to say personally, I leave you with a short character analysis on the five PoVs that take over this novel.

πŸ“Œ Rafa

❝ For more than twenty years, Spain has given blood. And sometimes Rafa wonders–what is left to give? ❞

Despite being tortured as a child and witnessing the death of his father, Rafa is one of the bubbliest characters in this novel. He is the self-appointed representative of bullfighter-in-training Fuga. At the moment, the pair work together at the cemetery, not only burying bodies but unearthing those of families who can no longer pay the plot fees. He is the younger brother of Ana, though we rarely see them interact; in fact, we see little interaction between characters other than Daniel and Ana.

✨ depicts the honourable tradition of bullfighting in Spain
✨ along with Fuga, shows deep friendship through adversity

πŸ“Œ Purificacion

❝ Puri longs to be a good Spaniard, to support the noble country [Franco] fought so hard to build. ❞

Puri spends most of the book in deep thought. She works at the Inclusa, caring for the orphans with the nuns. Unlike the other characters in the book, Puri leans towards following Franco’s thinking, and mentally chides those who do not. By the end of the novel, she finally settles on one side of this debate, though I find her decision was not fully explored. Could have been a very interesting character otherwise if we had dug more into her motivations.

✨ is absolutely adorable with children

πŸ“Œ Julia

❝ I tell myself this is temporary. But we work ourselves day and night, and nothing changes. ❞

Julia is perhaps a bit of the stereotypical older sister, though it does make sense as her parents have passed and she is left to care for her younger siblings. Though her character falls more into the background, Julia represents the traditional maternal figure in Spain. (With a few allowances.) It was hard to read how much Julia dreamed for her family, knowing that such a simple state of living was out of reach.

✨ contrast how Julia tells Ana to be careful with her big dreams when Julia herself dreams of rising up

πŸ“Œ Ana

❝ The gold elevator doors close, leaving Ana with her one and only companion. Loneliness. ❞

The female lead in the story, Ana is cautious by nurture but a big dreamer by nature. It was interesting to see her bounce between those two states of being. But when she finally gives into her nature, it seems sudden. Her romance was alright, but will not make it into any of my top ten lists. Like many things in this book, it happens suddenly and doesn’t feel authentic.

✨ a great motivating factor for many of the events of the book, I still wish we knew more about her
✨ too forgiving of Daniel

πŸ“Œ Daniel

❝ Daniel snaps a picture. ❞

The male lead of the story, Daniel arrives in Spain with his parents at the beginning of The Fountains of Silence. While he is written as a caring and genuine character, his drive to obtain great photos (and hopefully win a photojournalism scholarship) sometimes clashed with that image. His narrative sections were perhaps some of the least interesting to read.

✨ I needed more from him to prove he deserved Ana, deserved his place photographing their lives

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Overall, this was an entertaining read that has sent me on a Wikipedia spiral into the history of the Spanish Civil War and its aftermath. The characters could have given a bit more to fully earn five stars from me, and this will not be my new Sepetys favourite, but I think the setting really stands out. An Aurora rating!

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What do you think? Let’s discuss in the comments below!

2 thoughts on “5 Characters Who Represent Franco’s Spain in The Fountains of Silence

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