Title: The Boy on the Bridge
Author: Natalie Standiford
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Historical, RomancePublisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: July 30, 2013
Source: Wentworth Library
Links: Goodreads ☆ Amazon
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?
THE BOY ON THE BRIDGE takes place during the Cold War, 1982 to be exact. Laura goes to Leningrad, Russia to study abroad, and that is where she meets Alexei (who goes by his nickname Alyosha). Russia was not a nice place to be back during the Cold War. Everyone was suspicious and trusted no one. It was a very hostile environment, and I think that Natalie Standiford shows the dark side of Russia in THE BOY ON THE BRIDGE. But she also shows some of the beauty that can be found in Russia and it's people.
I also liked how the weather kind of depicts that changing mood of the world in the book. We all know that Russia is a cold, snowy place in the Winter, and that's were the book begins, then ends in the beginning of Spring. The cold, harsh Winter months show the attitude of the people, while the thawing of Spring shows the good beneath all the bad.
Before I started reading THE BOY ON THE BRIDGE, I kind of felt that I would end up ugly crying, because these kinds of romances usually don't end well. And I was right. This book just broke my heart by the time I finished. But that's not a bad thing, because it shows how much I connected with the characters and how much I was cheering for them.
The Guy: Alyosha is a Russian artist, but his talent is suppressed by the ridged rules and laws of his country. It also doesn't help him that all his work is considered dissident. He wants things that his government frowns upon, and that Americans seem to have in excess. I really liked Alyosha from the first time he saved Laura from Gypsies on the bridge. There are times though were his intentions seem blurred and I couldn't tell if he was just using Laura or not. But I did feel for him. It has to really suck to have your talent suppressed just because someone doesn't like it, and then to have no other options, except getting out of the country.
The Girl: Laura is in Russia to study the language, and living in a country with so many restrictions is not easy for this American. But meeting Alyosha suddenly makes being in such a stifling environment not so bad. He shows her the Russia that she's always wanted to see. I have to admire Laura for going to such a potentially dangerous place, just to study abroad. There is no way that I would ever do that. I did like that I had the love of language in common with her, though. It may not be Russian, but it was still cool.
As you can probably tell from just the summary of the book itself, this is a tale of star-crossed lovers. Laura is an American in Russia for only a short time and Alyosha is a Russian who is restricted from leaving his country. And those restrictions are what could potentially keep them apart.
When I think of Alyosha and Laura's relationship, I think of ballet or poetry. It had a lyrical sense to it. These two are beautiful together amid the ugliness of the world around them. And the threat of possibly never seeing each other again when the time comes for Laura to leave, makes it even more so. But the brighter you burn, the quicker your light will fade.
While Alyosha is showing Laura the better parts of Russia, the kind of Russia that she's been waiting to see, it becomes apparent right away that if they are to stay together, something drastic has to happen. I can tell you that while this romance is beautiful, it's also heartbreaking and tragic as well.
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