This was a well-written book about Francisco Franco’s autocratic regime in Spain. It’s a period in history that a large part of the world is not very familiar with, and this book addresses that and also brings to life the horrors committed to the Spanish people under Franco. At the same time, it’s about a sweet and believable romance between a young Spanish girl and a rich boy from Texas who wants to be a photographer, and who takes pictures of some of the things he witnesses while his family is visiting in Spain in what he believes is only a vacation.
There’s a sinister undertone weaved throughout the entire book that is related to the main or central horror that this book exposes. The nuns and acolytes of the Catholic Church, under the Franco regime, used to lie to mothers who gave birth in convents or inside hospitals where they assisted, telling them that their baby died during childbirth, while secretly stealing these babies and then selling them to rich foreign families who wanted to adopt a child.
I knew that this had happened under Franco because a Spanish friend told me about it, so I knew where the book was headed to from the beginning, but it was still a shock to see it exposed within a story. It was a bigger shock to consider the arguments of the nuns and acolytes for committing such a crime, which were also exposed within the story. They claimed that the babies they stole were saved by them from Spanish families who did not conform to Franco’s regime, and therefore would have been raised in a heathen environment. To read about this is chilling and hair-raising at the same time it educates about a period in history that has been obscured to the larger public, for years, by the silence of Spain’s own citizens.