That being said, it's been a while since I've reviewed anything I've read recently. This time I've decided to go with a great piece of nonfiction that I read for my Library Materials for Young Adults class – The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion & the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming.
Russia and its politics have always seemed so mysterious to me, and prior to reading this book, the majority of my knowledge about the Romanovs was based off of the the 1997 cartoon movie Anastasia, which is incredibly inaccurate (Shocking – I know).
I've always been interested in Russia's history, but I'll admit that one of the reasons I hadn't looked more into it was that it seemed so incredibly daunting and complex. But I couldn't have felt more opposite of that while reading Candace Fleming's work.
The book follows the tumultuous story of Russia's last Royal Family: Tsar Nicholas II, his wife Tsarina Alexandra and their five children grand duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia, and Tsarevich Alexei. From the destitute poverty of millions of peasants to the lavish and eccentric life of the rich and royal few, Fleming is a master at showing how this disjointed juxtaposition ultimately lead to the Romanovs' downfall and murder, and gave way to the rise of early Russian communism.
I give this book:
Probably unsurprising to anyone who has any seen the movie Anastasia, one of the most intriguing parts of the Romanovs' lives was their relationship with self-proclaimed holy man Grigori Rasputin. And as creepy as he was in the cartoon movie, he was even creepier in real life! Nicholas and Alexandra (particularly the latter) put great faith in Rasputin, as they believed he held powers to keep their hemophilic son Alexei healthy and well. But Rasputin used his influence on the Romanovs to his advantage by wooing women and eliminating men of power he saw as personal threats. If there was one person the Romanovs could blame their sullied reputation on (besides themselves), it would have easily been Rasputin.
Every detail in the book was included with a purpose and the historical photos tucked away inside its pages were captivating. I was also amazed at how much detail and primary source information Fleming was able to incorporate (Surely she became good friends with some archival librarians while writing this book)!
This book has received a lot of acclaim, including winning the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction; and was a Robert F. Sibert Honor Book and a YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award Finalist. With or without the high praise, The Family Romanov... is an educational and exciting read that I would recommend to teens and adults alike!