In Yelchin's Soviet Union, people live in crowded communal apartments (2.1), queue up for food rations in the freezing cold (11.2), and everywhere face the steely stare of Joseph Stalin as they go about their day. Breaking Stalin's Nose gives us a brief glimpse into what it was like to live under Stalin in Moscow in the 1950s. And it's not prettied up by any number of smart scarlet Pioneer scarves or fancy May Day parades.
Communal living can never be a functional, effective way to live, because you sacrifice too much to the group (such as privacy).
Yelchin doesn't give us any positive images of the family unit in this novel, but rather shows us the limits of family loyalty under the Soviet system.