Thursday, July 11, 2013

Book Review : The Boy On The Bridge by Natalie Standiford

  • Release Date : July 30th 2013
  • Genre : Realistic Fiction
  • Pages : 256
  • Publisher : Scholastic

Synopsis : 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. . . 
Nineteen year-old Laura Reid has always dreamed of going to Russia.  She wants to experience the passion, violence and history of the nation's past. When her studies bring her and a group of American students to Russia it is hardly what she expected.

It’s 1982 and the Russia of her dreams and Communist USSR are not one in the same.

Her days consist of dull classes, harassing gypsies, empty grocery stores and the constant reminder that her US passport makes her an object of scrutiny and jealousy.

Then she meets Aloysha, the titular boy on the bridge. As a relationship forbidden by society, the government and their peers grows between the two Laura has to decide what she is willing to give up for a chance at true love. Because it is love. Right?

Standiford's writing effortlessly builds the world of 1980's Russia. While the book does have a cultural learning curve there aren't all these obvious "teachable" moments and lets the reader live in the world.

The Boy on the Bridge takes place during the years between the rise and fall of Communist Russia. The time period and setting is far from the norm in today's contemporary YA. The bright spots of creativity and defiance give the story a tinge of hopefulness in what seems like a bleak situation. It opened my eyes to what communist Russia was like and how Russia's democracy transformed the country.

I would have wanted a bit more growth from our female protagonist. I feel that after this transformative experience in Russia that she comes out on the other side the same as she came in. I didn't get the indication that she had changed as much as I wanted her to.

The plot is very focused on the romance and parts of the romance can be predictable, but I think the historical aspects are what readers will be drawn to.

One item of note about this book is that the main characters are nineteen and twenty two. Laura  is a sophomore at Brown  studying abroad and Aloysha has been given his first job out of school, yet this book falls under a YA category This book is an example of   how we can have stories about college students and those early year experiences (studying abroad) without sticking it in the new adult category

The Boy On The Bridge test the belief in true love, deceit and fear.  This is not a typical light fluffy romance and will have you thinking long after you have finished it.

OMG, Trailers Always Spoil. The synopsis of this book on Goodreads and Amazon basically give away most of the plot. READ WITH CAUTION. 

 Also I love that this book uses the font Lavanderia in the title and pages however it doesn't work for this book. Like one Goodreads' reviewer suggested the cover screams cutsey Russian romance, but this is not that book. Cover Flip ?

*ARC received at BEA for review


  1. This book sounds like it would be just up my alley! I like that it sort of gives the reader a glimpse into Russia during that time, as well as still having a compelling story of its own. I'm definitely going to check it out!

  2. I'm impressed you tracked down the font! :-) Your comment re the synopsis is spot on - publishers should know better! The lack of info dumps was great, as you say, the atmosphere built slowly, naturally - the mark of a good writer! Glad you liked this one. :-)

  3. I downloaded the font a few months ago from pinterest and recognized it when I saw it.

  4. I loved this book and I did feel that Laura changed while she was there. She deifintely became more willing to take risks. I remember the era of the Iron Curtain well and I am curious to see how those that weren't alive during this time will receive this book.

  5. I guess I was up in the air about Laura towards the end. This book is before my time so I personally found the book to be an eye opener to what that time was like in Russia.

  6. I really love historical contemporary's so this book sounds good for me. I LOVE that cover:) Thanks for the review!

  7. The boy on the Bridge follows a college girl named Laura, who is visiting Communist Russia as
    part of a study abroad program. Laura was fascinated by Russian history
    when she was young, but once she’s studying there, she’s disenchanted
    by all the government restrictions and how little the dramatic history
    of the country came through.

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