The Boy on the Bridge by Natalie Standiford
Source: Giveaway from This is Teen
Summary from Goodreads:
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?
One of my biggest dreams is to study abroad, so when I won a copy of The Boy on the Bridge I was ecstatic. Reading of one girl’s experience in Soviet Russia was very entertaining. The Boy on the Bridge is very powerful in a quiet sort of way.
TBotB is the sort of book where not a whole lot happens, but at the same time each event is important. The story unfolds slowly and is over quickly.
While I cared about the future of each character, I didn’t connect with them. There was a cold detachment to the narration that fit the bleak and desperate setting. The third person narration is a bit of a barrier, and I think the story would have much more likability if it were told in first person.
Learning about the culture of the time was extremely fascinating. Standiford did her research to get all of the facts exactly right. My favorite points in the book were when Laura was discovering new sights and food and people.
Mystery surrounded the story from beginning to end. The ending is a little ambiguous, almost left to the reader’s interpretation. While this is a little frustrating, it also suited the book well.
Standiford has told a beautifully cruel story of desperation. The bleak qualities of the book won’t be appealing to everyone. The cover really deceived me into think I was about to read a light romance, which was so not the case. The Boy on the Bridge is a historical novel for those who love books with culture and intrigue.