Two happy things happened after a book store visit with my 14-year-old granddaughter Samantha Lovell. First, she picked out an historical-fiction book; second, Young Adult novelists are actually writing stories about history! It lifted me out of the despair I feel when one of our grandkids asks which one was WW II.
The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys covers Spanish history during the dictatorship of Franco from 1957 to his death in 1975. But it also deals with the Spanish Civil War 1936-39 when young American idealists went to Spain to join the “republicans,” guerrellas fighting for democracy against Franco’s Nationalists supported by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. The next book I will get Samantha is Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls about Robert Jordan, one of the American volunteers.
And hoping Sammie takes Art History some day, she’ll study Picasso’s Guernica named for the Spanish city murderously bombed by Nazi Germany killing thousands of innocent men, women, and children because it was the center of the republican resistance. This one book of history covering Spanish dictator Franco’s brutal reign from 1939-1975 can spark teenagers like Samantha’s interest in learning world history.
And their generation needs to memorize Santanya’s 1905 quote, Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. Ruth Sepety’s novel has enough twists and turns to intrigue Young Adult readers. And yet one more plus for Michigan teenagers like Samantha is that the author was born in Detroit and graduated from Hillsdale College!