Publication: July 30, 2013
Publisher: Scholastic Press
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 cover of this book is so cute. As soon as I saw it, I fell in love. The story inside was just as enjoyable. The Boy on the Bridge takes place in 1982 during the Cold War. Even though I’ve read quite a few historical fiction books, this is one period I was unfamiliar with.
Laura Reid fell in love with all things Russia at a young age. She knew that one day she would want to go there and learn the language. She ends up spending a semester studying abroad in the Soviet Union. The weather and lifestyle there is a bit bleak. Not to mention that getting good food to eat is pretty hard to come by depending on if you are a foreigner or not. The government watches everyone, everything seems strict, people are afraid of being framed or being turned into the KGB for anti-party activities.
One day as Laura is attempting to walk back to the university, she runs into a pair of gypsies begging for money for the babies. They apparently don’t like to take no for an answer and they refuse to let her go. This is where Alexei (Alyosha) comes into the story. He ends up rescuing her from the gypsies.
From there Aloysha and Laura spend more and more time together. They explore different places in Russia and it’s not long before Laura falls in love.
I loved the descriptions of Russia during this time period. I could picture everything as I read. It felt realistic and I could easily relate to Laura. Her relationship with Aloysha was sweet and sad at the same time. Even though they come from two very different worlds, I was pulling for them at the beginning. As their fast moving relationship developed, I started to question it though. Laura does become a little reckless and because of the time she spends Aloysha her school-work/grades take a hit. But that doesn’t seem to affect her very much because she feels head over heels in love. And sometimes when you feel like that, you don’t always think as much as you should.
Even though I am not a huge fan of insta-love, in this story it kind of worked. They moved fast and they felt everything deeply and passionately. I was a little sad when their story ended. Especially the way it ended. I wasn’t happy with that. But I did have fun reading it and I would recommend The Boy on the Bridge to anyone who enjoys historical fiction with a great setting mixed with romance/insta-love.
Rating: 3½ out of 5.
**I received this book on behalf of Scholastic Press in exchange for nothing, but my honest opinion. Thank you.**
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