angel on the square | Teen Ink

angel on the square

June 23, 2022
By Natitoon GOLD, Washington, District Of Columbia
Natitoon GOLD, Washington, District Of Columbia
12 articles 1 photo 2 comments

This book is set in St Petersburg, Russia in 1914.   It follows Ekaterina “Katya” Ivanova, the daughter of one of empress Alexandra´s ladies-in-waiting, who the imperial family of Russia treat like one of their own until the Revolution comes in 1917.  This is the first book in a series of four novels called THE RUSSIAN SAGA which take place in Soviet times and every main protagonist is related to each other.

The title of this book is a reference to a bronze angel that was placed in the middle of the square in the Nevsky Prospect (main street of St Petersburg) as a symbol of hope.

Character analysis. 


She is a fun loving and slightly naive 13-year-old girl who loves her family and her high class lifestyle. She lives with her mother and ‘cousin’ because her father died when she was a baby. Over time she still retains her happy side but learns more about life. She lives in both the poor and rich worlds because she starts out rich but ends up having to work.


 He is Katya's “cousin” (his parents were friends of her family) and a 17-year-old anarchist.  His personality is loud and rude. He hates rich people (which is ironic considering he lives with a rich family) because they have all the power and do nothing to help the poor, which is the reason he eventually supports the Revolution.


Anastasia “Stana” Romanov: she is the youngest daughter of the Tsar and Katya's best friend. she is spoiled but has a fun loving personality.

Irina Ivanova:

She is Katya's mother and has a loving personality, but at the same time is very proper and grand. (a lady) A trait she shares with her daughter is that she is naive to the way the rich and poor live differently.

Tsarina Alexandra:

 She is Anastasia's mother and is described as a smart and at times demanding woman. The only major flaw she has is that she doesn't know or care that most of her subjects are poor people.


Gregory Rasputin:

He is the man responsible for caring for Anastasia's brother Alexi. Katya describes him as creepy and evil in both appearance and personality.

Alexander Kerinsky:

This man is the head of the Russian government after Tsar Nicholas abdicated the throne.  He makes sure Katya and her family have a decent life even after exiling them to the countryside.  Katya thinks he looks pale and skinny. His personality is serious and stern.


My opinion:

I like this book because it has a strong female protagonist (she always speaks her mind) and lots of drama and action.  It also shows the way different people lived at that time, through the eyes of a girl who lives in both the poor and rich worlds. Example poor people do not have water in their houses but rich folks do.

This book which came out in 2001 is for readers 12 and up, because it shows some hard things that might be too dark for little kids, like a scene of protesters getting hurt by cossacks (armed police) and another of children working in factories. I first saw this novel at a book fair and decided to get it because I liked the cover.

The Russian Revolution is presented as gray in this book. In other words both sides  have a point. Example Misha says that a revolution is a great idea because it gives poor people food and jobs, while Katya thinks it's bad because many of her friends are injured, exiled or dead.

My favorite part of the book is near the ending where Katya and her family are taken in by Nina, a woman who used to be her mother's ladies' maid and also served as her nanny. 

Another interesting thing that happens near the last part of the book is that Anastasia's “death” is hinted at but never said aloud. In simple terms nobody found the body.

I'm with Katya because sometimes staying alive in one piece is more important than getting a job. In difficult times it doesn't matter how you stay alive as long as you do it.

The author's comments:

i like this book a lot.

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