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The Boy on the Bridge by Natalie Standiford

The Boy on the Bridge

by Natalie Standiford

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That was delightful. ( )
  glitzandshadows | Oct 12, 2015 |
I saw this cover and immediately wanted to read it, it's absolutely beautiful. I wish that the story could live up to the cover though. I did enjoy reading it, just not as much as I wanted to. There was a lot of Russian language and references, which wasn't really a big deal, just wish there wasn't so much. However, they were living in Russia so I guess I can't complain.

The romance between Laura and Aloysha started off pretty good, then went to I love you pretty quick. I'm not a fan of instant love, even when someone is trying to get out of the country, I just laugh when it is said so early on. I did enjoy seeing their relationship grow and was curious to see how everything played out. I would of liked to see it end differently, even though the ending was realistic.” ( )
  BeckyGandee | Oct 21, 2013 |
I've read a lot of rave reviews for this title, but honestly? I wanted to hit the main character upside the head with a clue-by-four. Everybody tells her not to trust or fall for a local guy; this is Cold War Russia (shouldn't it have been USSR? Just sayin'.), and everyone wants out. Not only is it Cold War Russia, it's spring term - the book starts in January. In Russia. Bleak, nyet? She "randomly" runs into a guy on the bridge on her way back to class, and he shoos off the Gypsies begging her for money. And they fall in love. She skips classes for him. She spends all of her money on him. She proposes so he can get a green card. Honey, you can do better! ( )
  kcarrigan | Aug 26, 2013 |
Review found on: http://lifeasabookaddict.blogspot.com/2013/07/the-boy-on-bridge-by-natalie-stand...

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.

**I received this book on behalf of Scholastic Press in exchange for nothing, but my honest opinion. Thank you.** ( )
  BookConfessions | Jul 29, 2013 |
The Boy in the Bridge is one of those instances where the cover does not prepare you for the story within its pages. Sure, The Boy on the Bridge centers around a romance, but it's not the fluffy, cute read the cover suggests. Actually, The Boy on the Bridge is a story of a college student studying abroad in the Soviet Union, and discovering the hardships of life their, both physical and interpersonal.

The setting of The Boy on the Bridge made this a win for me, above and beyond the storytelling or the characters. Russian and Soviet history are among my fascinations, and The Boy on the Bridge takes place in an era with which I am less familiar. It's 1981, and the Soviet Union will continue to limp along for another ten years, and there's an air of desolation to Leningrad, which Standiford captures perfectly. Mistrust hangs in the air. Stalin may be long dead, but fear of being turned into the KGB for anti-Party activities is still rampant. The disparity between the quality of life for the American exchange students and regular citizens is shocking and sad; Laura and her fellow foreign students can obtain products Russians cannot. Basically, everything about the setting was well done, and such a nice break from all the books set in the US.

In one of my favorite novels and film adaptations, A Room with a View by E.M. Forster, there's a line about how Lucy was "transfigured by Italy," where she traveled with her cousin Charlotte on the sort of extended holiday wealthy Brits indulged in during the early twentieth century. In such a way was Laura transfigured by Russia. Like Lucy, falling in love with someone she wasn't meant to was a big part of the transformation, but so too was seeing a different way of life and learning about the tenuousness of life.

The Boy on the Bridge deals with a slightly older heroine, nineteen and a college student, but she's no less naive in romance. Her boyfriend of sorts back in the US is a cheater and a creep, based on the evidence of the letter he sent her, so it's initially exciting to see her move on with the Russian boy who drives overeager gypsies away. However, Laura becomes too enraptured with Alyosha, skipping glass and risking getting kicked out of the program to spend time with him. Normally, such a romance might bother me, but Standiford keeps the overall message one of caution and self-awareness.

Though the romance feels doomed, whether or not it actually is, there's a sense too that she needed this experience, more than she needed the classes at the university. From an intellectual standpoint, interacting with Alyosha and his friends dramatically improves her Russian. From an experiential standpoint, because she takes that risk, she actually gets to experience the Soviet Union. If she followed the rules, she might hardly have met any Russians or have seen anything aside from the scheduled school visits. Whatever may come of her time studying abroad, she'll never forget it and she'll never be the same.

The writing itself left me wanting a bit. Standiford uses close third person, which usually I don't mind, but for some reason I kept wanting The Boy on the Bridge to be in first person. Aside from that, the writing is decent but didn't stand out for me. I also wouldn't have said no to more banter.

Natalie Standiford's The Boy on the Bridge is a very quick read, and a must read if you're as intrigued by Russia as I am. Standiford depicts a realistic relationship built during the timeframe of a study abroad program, against the backdrop of the early 1980s in the Soviet Union. ( )
1 vote A_Reader_of_Fictions | Jul 24, 2013 |
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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.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0545334810, Hardcover)

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?

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:21 -0400)

It is 1982 and nineteen-year-old Laura Reid is spending a semester in Leningrad studying Russian, but when she meets Alyosha she discovers the dissident Russia--a world of wild parties, underground books and music, love, and constant danger.

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