Ilana Davita Chandal (later Dinn) – Main character, very intelligent for her age but is still frightened of many things. Avid reader who loves to use her imagination, later in the book becomes a great writer and semi-religious daughter of Anne and Michael Chandal.
Anne "Channah" Chandal (later Dinn) - Ilana's mother, a Communist who is devoted to serving her party, she is anti-religion but was once a devoted Jew, is married to Michael Chandal and has a dark past.
Michael Chandal - Ilana's father, a journalist and a Communist, he is a source of great happiness in the house, he goes overseas to Spain to write for his newspaper about the Spanish Civil War and is killed during a bomb raid while trying to save a nun, a fact that Ilana becomes infatuated with. Husband to Anne Chandal and biological father to Ilana Davita.
Sarah Chandal - Ilana's aunt, a Christian missionary and a nurse who sometimes works in war zones and is very upbeat. She helps both Ilana and her mother when they fall into depression. She is Michael Chandal’s sister. Often on her visits she tries to teach Ilana her Christian practices, however is not around enough for her teachings to set in and only manages to cause Ilana trouble in her shul and with the Dinn's.
Jakob Daw - a writer who is a close friend of Anne Chandal, insists on calling Ilana‘Ilana Davita’. Writes stories in support of the communist party and was gassed in WWI. He was especially notable for his close relation to Ilana, whom commonly referred to him as her "uncle" and who she "loved".
Ezra Dinn - an immigration lawyer and devoted Jew who is a cousin of Anne Chandal, he helps Jakob Daw with his visa into the U.S. and later marries Anne Chandal after Michael Chandal’s death in Spain.
David Dinn - Ezra Dinn's bookish son, who is the same age as Ilana. He is very smart for his age and goes to a private Jewish academy, he befriends Ilana and later becomes her stepbrother.
Ruthie Helfman - a friend of Ilana's whose family helps Ilana when her mother is in her severely depressed state.
Mr. Helfman - Ruthie's father; headmaster and teacher at the Jewish school that Ilana later attends with David and Ruthie. He is forced to award Reuven with the Akiva award after the board refuses to allow a girl to win the award, which would ruin the schools accountability (turning it into a "school for wives").
Reuven Malter - An athletic, popular classmate of Ilana's and the runner up for the Akiva Award. Although the school offered him the Akiva award, he refused it saying "I don't want anything I don't earn, Ilana ... It wasn't mine, it was yours. What they did wasn't right".
Charles Carter - a Communist history professor who courts Anne Chandal.