Anastasia and Her Sisters

320p. ebook available. S. & S./Paula Wiseman Bks. Apr. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481403269. LC 2014003498.
Gr 6–9—This classic tale from modern Russian literature typically gets 10 minutes in some history classes, but the story deserves a wider audience. Here, retold by Meyer, it has strong potential to intrigue middle school historical fiction fans. It is told in Anastasia's voice starting when she is 13 years old. On the cusp of World War I, her father is the last tsar and her family lives an opulent and epicurean lifestyle. Anastasia, her four sisters, and her parents are oblivious to warning signs that the tsar's reign is under siege. When Anastasia starts reading her oldest sister's diary in secret, she realizes that her world is in flux. She begins to notice the delicacies her family eats routinely that nobody else can procure. In a subplot, Anastasia has a crush on a young artist, but they are cruelly separated when her family is exiled. Anastasia's story transports readers from a privileged lifestyle at the beginning of the 20th-century to her family being the victims of a brutal revolution. Meyer exceptionally captures Anastasia's voice as she matures. The author strikes the right balance between detail and momentum to maintain readers' attention. This book would be a fine addition to any middle school's historical fiction collection and would pair nicely with Candace Fleming's excellent nonfiction work, The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia(Random, 2014).—Amy Thurow, New Glarus School District, WI
Meyer's biographical novel sympathetically follows Anastasia Romanova and her siblings as they visit their palaces, experience first romances, and listen in bewilderment to the rumors of political unrest that sift into even their sheltered Russian world during the period spanning 1911–1918. Anastasia's ordinary worries and small joys demonstrate the humanity of young people caught in political upheavals not of their making. Reading list.

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