In Romanov, Nadine Brandes explores what happened to the Romanov family in Russia from the time of their captivity after the forced abdication of the throne through their executions and beyond. The Unabridged crew had a chance to interview Nadine about this awesome book; see the link at the bottom of this post to check out everything she shared!
This novel focuses on the young, spunky, courageous Anastasia (Nastya), who is a teenager when the abdication happens. However, Brandes also explores the other family members through Nastya's relationships with them. Through the course of the novel, the readers get to know Natstya's siblings, especially the eldest, Maria, and Alexei, Nastya's sickly brother who was heir to the throne prior to the revolution.
In this historical fiction young adult novel mingled with fantasy, magic and imagination play a powerful role in the way that events unfold for some of the members of the Romanov family. During their captivity, the Romanovs find unexpected friendships and even love. Some of the soldiers who guard the family find themselves questioning the Bolsheviks' decisions as they discover the kindness, playfulness, and cheerfulness of the Romanov children. Both Nastya and Maria find themselves falling for soldiers who guard them, and comrades Ivan and Zash take different attitudes toward their situation, but both struggle to manage their feelings.
In this novel, Brandes explores how loyalty to a cause can come into question when faced with the humanity of those on the other side. The Romanov family members, led by their father's example, are kind and compassionate toward the soldiers who guard them, which evolves into unexpected understanding between the two groups. Both Nastya and Zash find their feelings for each other growing stronger as their time together lengthens. However, the political complexities keep them all on edge as the situation for the family grows ever more desperate.
One of the aspects of the novel that I most appreciated was the question of culpability and the role of forgiveness. Though tensions are high throughout the period of captivity, tender moments also surround the Romanov family, and that tenderness evolves into a complicated love. In this passage, Nastya considers what has happened and thinks, “I realized that a part of forgiveness was accepting the things that someone had done -- and the pain that came with that -- and moving on with love. Forgiveness was a personal batter that must always be fought in my heart. Daily. And though I was tired of running and fighting and surviving... I wasn't ready to surrender that battle yet.” Nastya has to reconcile her ideals with the reality surrounding her. She also has to consider what she hopes for her beloved country in the face of the current turmoil. Ultimately, she must decide what she hopes for herself and for the land she loves, forcing her to make hard choices.
This was a great novel rife with interesting historical tidbits and rich with complex character dynamics. It brings to life the family, time period, and location of the Romanov regime as it came to its end.
K. Ashley Dickson-Ellison is a former high school English teacher (who is now an instructional technology teacher) interested in exploring the integration of trending young adult literature into the English classroom experience. Ashley is also a member of the podcast Unabridged; check out the podcast site below.
Please note: All ideas and opinions are my own and do not represent my current or past employers.
© K. Ashley Dickson and Teaching the Apocalypse 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to K. Ashley Dickson and Teaching the Apocalypse with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All thoughts and ideas are the author's and do not represent any employer.