THE BOY ON THE BRIDGE by Natalie Standiford Book Review
Publication Date: July 30th 2013 by Scholastic Press
Rating: – Exceeds Expectations
Book Summary: 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 by Natalie Standiford Book Review Overview:
- Don’t let the fluffy cover deceive you; The Boy on the Bridge is more serious than it looks
- Laura is a likeable protagonist because she isn’t whiny; she actually wants to be in Russia!
- Romance is not predictable because you question Alexei’s motives
Fine, I admit it: I basically picked up The Boy on the Bridge by Natalie Standiford because it had a cute cover. And when I found out that it was about a girl studying abroad, I knew that I was definitely going to read it. The premise reminded me a bit of one of my favorites – Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins – but set in Cold War Russia. But don’t let a pretty cover deceive you: The Boy on the Bridge is a lot less fluffy than it looks.
Laura, the protagonist, is such a likeable main character because her character isn’t the stereotypical fish out of water. She’s an American in Cold War Russia, but unlike so many other YA books where the main character is in a foreign country, Laura actually embraces the new language and culture. She genuinely wanted to be in Russia and learn more about the country. Despite the fact that she is ostracized by most people because she is American, Laura is still determined to make the most of her study abroad experience.
As the cover suggests, there is romance. Alexei, also known as Alyosha, is not your typical love interest. I was constantly wondering if Alyosha is someone that Laura could trust. Is he genuine or his he using her because she is American? For the most part, I was unsure of his motives. The romance is unpredictable.
I don’t think I’ve ever read a Cold War era novel set in Russia before, so the setting was really refreshing. Standiford does an amazing job with the setting. I could really picture myself in Russia and imagine all the different places that Laura visits.
The Boy on the Bridge gives readers such a great glimpse of what it is like for an American teenager living in Cold War Russia. In addition to Laura’s own experiences, readers also get to see what it is like through Alyosha’s eyes. Through Russian and American perspectives, readers get a broader image of life in Russia.
Overall, I quite enjoyed The Boy on the Bridge. Despite what the cover suggests, The Boy on the Bridge by Natalie Standiford is more than just a sappy romance by giving a glimpse of life in Cold War Russia.
About the Author
Natalie Standiford, author of “How to Say Goodbye in Robot,” “Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters,” and the popular “Space Dog” and “Dating Game” series, has written picture books, nonfiction, chapter books, teen novels, and even horror novels for young adults. Standiford also plays bass in the rock band Tiger Beat, with fellow YA authors Libba Bray, Daniel Ehrenhaft, and Barnabas Miller.
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