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The Boy on the Bridge Hardcover – July 30, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up-In this love story set during the Cold War, 19-year-old Laura Reid is an American studying in Leningrad. She meets Alyosha on the bridge near her dormitory, and their star-crossed love is immediate and dangerous. They live at a time when every move is watched and luxuries are scarce. Laura shows Alyosha what is available to foreigners in Russia during a covert trip to the Berioska Shop. In turn, he gives her a glimpse into his secret past and a present that creates more questions than it answers. As the end of the semester draws near, so does their time together. Although Laura has heard that Russians will do anything to get to the U.S., she doesn't want to believe that Alyosha might be one of them. Readers are left wondering until the very end about his true intentions. Standiford accurately re-creates the bleakness of life in the Soviet Union in the early 1980s. This is a great book for teens who enjoy tragic romances with a historical twist.-Kimberly Castle-Alberts, Hudson Library & Historical Society, OHα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

Russia has always fascinated Laura. When she gets the chance to study abroad in the Soviet Union in 1982, she leaps at the opportunity to experience the vibrant, bombastic culture she has learned about. The reality is different: the environment is dour and the locals unfriendly, including the sticky-fingered Gypsies on the bridge between her dorm and the nearest town. When said Gypsies accost her, Laura is saved by Alyosha, a handsome artist. They embark on a slow burn of a romance, which changes Laura’s emotional landscape, enlivening and unfurling Russian culture during an era when the past was suppressed and love with foreigners was verboten. This is a romance filled with foreboding, as Standiford works hard to make Alyosha come across as anything other than opportunistic, but still there’s an air of danger as Laura is conscious that Alyosha might try to use her to leave the country. While more straightforward than the author’s quirky How to Say Goodbye in Robot (2009), this is nonetheless a delightful escapist read. Grades 9-12. --Courtney Jones
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press (July 30, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0545334810
  • ISBN-13: 978-0545334815
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,246,424 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Natalie Standiford was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, but now lives in New York City. She plays bass in the rock bands Tiger Beat (featuring fellow YA writers Libba Bray, Dan Ehrenhaft, and Barney Miller) and Ruffian. Find out more at her web site: www.nataliestandiford.com.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Christina (A Reader of Fictions) on July 30, 2013
Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Kindle Edition
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.

Until she meets Alyosha (aka the boy on the bridge). When Alyosha saves her from a gypsy attack, Laura gradually grows closer to him. At first they just meet up for coffee so Alyosha can show Laura around Leningrad, the city she’s staying in, and so she can practice her Russian, but as the story progresses, their love story unravels.

I received an uncorrected proof of The Boy on the Bridge at Book Expo America, and I didn’t really know what to expect from it. I thought the cover was pretty (Russia, cool!) and the blurb seemed sort of interesting, although quite clichéd. When I started reading this book, I wasn’t especially pulled into the story. Sure, it wasn’t bad, but I wasn’t eager to read it either. Through most of the book I was in this state of apathy. Only at the end did I get really into it and eager to see the fate of the characters.

Laura, for one, was very bland. She was this American girl here to study Russian and ended up dating some handsome Russian stranger, which was predictable at best. Of course, this was in the premise of the story, so it’s fine – there’s nothing wrong with that. It was just the way that she immediately saw him as this savior who embodied the spirit of Russia. It was so… ugh. She didn’t even think it was strange that a perfect stranger came up to her, saved her, and gave her his number.
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By Amazon Customer on April 1, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book to use in a school assignment which was to be written from a non-western view point. Even though this novel is written in an American's perspective, it is all about life in Soviet Russia. That the protagonist is American only helps the reader to see just how different Soviet Russia was.

I liked Alyosha quite a lot, but even I was never fully convinced if his motives were genuine or more selfish. The writer did an expert job at remaining ambiguous and there is plenty of evidence for either argument. I would suggest this book to anyone who is interested in YA literature.
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Format: Kindle Edition
The Boy on the Bridge is one of those books I don't really know how to react to. I wanted to read it because I thought it'd be a cute little romance set in an interesting time and place, one we don't see often in YA books. I don't know how I expected it to end, but I certainly didn't like how it did end. But that's not really where my problems with the book lie, but instead my problems stem more from the weirdness of the relationship between Alexei and Laura and the ending.

When American student Laura, who is studying in Leningrad for the semester, meets Russian artist Alexei--who goes by Aloysha--she quickly falls in love, both with him and the Russia he shows her. This sounds cute, right?? And it is, at first. Laura is in awe of the cute artist boy who seems so earnest and truthful, overeager even. But their relationship progresses into love so quickly. Instalove is not something that bothers me all that often; many times, I can really see why the relationship works. But, in this case, it is only possible that Laura falls in love with the idea of Aloysha. Their worlds are so different, and she only sees a glimpse of how he lives. She only sees that he works as an artist and romanticizes Russia's situation, flauting her school's--and the government's, at times--rules. She is constantly shown the reality of what most of the Russian citizens want from the Americans in their country, but she never questions Aloysha's motives in their relationship.

Not only is the relationship naive and formed on a romantic notion, but Aloysha's actions verge on stalking and obsession, and Laura also never picks up on it. I mean, her class goes to Moscow for a week and the boy follows them there, waiting outside of their hotel until he sees her. They can't be apart for a week? Really?
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