The Boy on the Bridge Review

The Boy on the Bridge
by Natalie Standiford
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?

I was really excited about this book. Historical set in Russia? Falling in love while on study abroad? Bring it on.  

Overall, it wasn't what I hoped. The Russian setting was fascinating and beautifully used, making for an original concept. The characters are solid. Alexei and Laura's relationship is lovely. There's a range of American and Russian minor characters, some of them more developed than others. The voice falls flat and it just didn't grab me. There are points at which i felt like I was being told a story, and it pulled me out of it. The ending is more bitter than sweet. While it's relatively expected, it works well.


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