The Boy on the Bridge by Natalie Standiford

Monday, August 05, 2013

The Boy on the Bridge by Natalie Standiford

Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: July 30, 2013
Pages: 256
Source: BEA 2013
Buy It: The Book Depository | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
A new breathtaking novel from Natalie Standiford about love and trust during the Cold War.
Laura Reid goes to Leningrad for a semester abroad as Cold War paranoia is peaking in 1982. She meets a young Russian artist named Alexei and soon, with Alexei as her guide, Laura immerses herself in the real Russia--a crazy world of wild parties, black-market books and music, and smuggled letters to dissidents. She must keep the relationship secret; associating with Americans is dangerous for Alexei, and if caught, Laura could be sent home and Alexei put under surveillance or worse. At the same time, she's been warned that Soviets often latch onto Americans in hopes of marrying them and thus escaping to the United States. But she knows Alexei loves her. Right?
As June approaches--when Laura must return to the United States--Alexei asks Laura to marry him. She's only nineteen and doesn't think she's ready to settle down. But what if Alexei is the love of her life? How can she leave him behind? If she has a chance to change his life, to rescue him from misery, shouldn't she take it?-- Goodreads
While studying abroad in Russia, Laura keeps her eyes open for an adventure and finds one when a boy, Alyosha, rescues her from gypsies on the bridge.  From then on, what seems like fate carries her and Alyosha through Russia on a reckless journey.  The Boy on the Bridge is a heartbreaking romance that tears readers’ hearts apart but makes them love the book even more.

As bad as I must admit, I picked up the book purely based on my opinion of the cover.  It has been quite a while since I’ve seen a cover that truly depicts the book.  First thing I noticed and I loved was that the male model on the cover: he looks Russian which is how people should create covers about a book set in Russia.  Plus, Alyosha, on the cover, is attractive.  The cover is filled with gorgeous colors and makes me want to visit Russia for the architecture.

I read How to Say Goodbye in Robot a few years ago and when I picked up this one, I recognized Standiford’s name.  I didn’t much care for How to Say Goodbye in Robot, mostly because its slow pacing and a story that just wasn’t for me.  However, the cover of The Boy on the Bridge was so cute, I wanted to give this one a try.  The writing style was just as I remembered.  It was sad and terribly heart wrenching. 

The plot was different.  I was unused to its pacing and unsure of where it was going.  It was unpredictable; the story would go one way and the characters would do the opposite of what I originally thought.  However, there could have been so much more put into the plot that wasn’t there.  Standiford kept mentioning a man with a dog, while Laura would telephone Alyosha.  I kept waiting for something to happen with this man with a dog: was he a stalker; who is he?  Nothing ever did. 

Laura had no personality.  Plus, I have no idea how it was in the 80s but when a girl who has a boyfriend goes to study abroad and finds another guy and just pretends that she doesn’t have a boyfriend because he was kind of dumb to begin with, is not the sort of girl that I love as a main character.  Some of her decisions were awful and I couldn’t back them up or forgive them even though I wanted to love the girl.  I wish this book was longer so I could have connected to the characters in the way that I wished to.

The Boy on the Bridge wisps readers back to the 80s, where Russia is a bit dangerous and Laura seeks adventure.  This is a heart wrenching story that will grip you tight and leave you in tears.

“Laura and her roommate Karen tramped along the frozen mud road that led through the university, past a wall with OGNEOPASNO! painted on it in huge red letters.”
-The Boy on the Bridge by Natalie Standiford (ARC p. 1)

Rated PG-13 for sexual content and violence.
Cover: 5
Characters: 3
Writing Style: 3
Plot: 4
Ending: 4

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  1. Sorry Laura wasn't the best written. I do like this cover and premise

  2. Boy on the Bridge immersed me in an intriguing and completely foreign world: 1982 Leningrad. College student Laura Reid is participating in an exchange program, spending a semester working on her Russian and soaking up the culture.

  3. I thought the author expressed great relationship between Russians and Americans and Laura came out as a typical American teenager-like girl. At times she was very immature and I did not like her actions but I had to finish the story and glad I did.

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