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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Author Gloria Whelan is known for her penchant for historical fiction and foreign lands. The National Book Award-winning Homeless Bird told of the strife endured by a 13-year-old girl in India, and Return to the Island told of another girl's romantic quandaries in the 1800s. Angel on the Square introduces readers to Katya Ivanova, a 13-year-old living in St. Petersburg during the Russian Revolution. Her mother is a lady-in-waiting to the Empress, and Katya's life in the imperial palace is lush -- and safe. The rest of Russia, however, is in turmoil as revolutionary ideas inflame the populace, and Katya is torn. She initially does not want to hear of fighting and disruption, but she slowly begins to understand the pleas of the poor. Katya begins to think outside the palace walls, and soon she herself understands firsthand the meaning of poverty.
Whelan uses her keen grasp of language and imagery to portray the tumultuous state of Russia in 1917. She shows Katya grow from an immature child to a young woman with heart. Readers will identify with her inner struggle and her battles. When her family is torn apart and her status is stripped away, Katya reveals the depths of her character. This compelling novel offers young readers a chance to explore their own worlds through the eyes of this lovely young Russian. (Amy Barkat)