2020 was a hard year for me, as I’m sure it was for most people. Needless to say, despite what I told myself in March, I faced a huge reading slump. Outside of school books, I read very, very, very little. Books just didn’t excite me the way that they used to.

So when I say that I, as a full time high school IB Diploma student, read this 400 page book in two days, I need you to understand what that means for this book.

After reading Salt to the Sea a few years ago, I knew of the talent that Sepetys had for spinning tales that not only taught me about the little known historical events and made me love the characters, but also made me feel for the characters. And here, she does it again. Before, I had known nothing about Franco. But now I feel as if I lived my past life during this time period. In most books, I feel like we understand what is happening. Which is great, don’t get me wrong. But in The Fountains of Silence I really was there. The grandeur of the Hilton, the sadness and strength in Vallecas. I kid you not, there was a minute I’m pretty sure I smelled Madrid. That’s how much I felt like I was there.

Centered in Madrid in 1957, The Fountains of Silence follows a maid at the luxurious Hilton Hotel, Ana, and her family as they live under Franco’s intensely Catholic dictatorship. Additionally, it follows aspiring photographer Daniel, visiting with his wealthy oil family from Texas, as he explores his Spanish roots. Sepetys, in an unexpected but beautiful move, also includes primary sources throughout the book in reference to this time in history. As a student, this is something that I deeply respect and admire her for.

Perfect for all readers (but especially Sepetys fans and those looking for a little escapism) and set at a cornerstone in Franco’s dictatorship, this is a beautiful story about people and the connections we make.

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