The Boy on the Bridge
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The Boy on the Bridge

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3.29 of 5 stars 3.29  ·  rating details  ·  544 ratings  ·  181 reviews
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 smu...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published July 30th 2013 by Scholastic Press (first published July 1st 2013)
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Ash Wednesday
Sep 04, 2013 Ash Wednesday rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: The Bronze Horseman fans who may want to revisit Leningrad 40 yrs after
4 STARS?… okay 4 STARS

There are books that a few pages in, you know it's going to be special. There are those that are easily identifiable as epic by the majesty of their words, those that masterfully manipulates us to care for the hero and heroine that any hurt, joy or triumph they experience in the pages, we make it personal.

And there are those that makes us go through hair pulling levels of frustration, gut-wrenching moral turmoil and the raging urge to grab the characters and smack them sil...more
Annie
In 2011 I read Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters and was introduced to Natalie Standiford’s simple yet elegant writing style, so I was very happy when I heard about the upcoming publication of The Boy on the Bridge (releasing July 30th 2013).

I liked that this novel was written entirely from Laura’s point of view (third person narration) – giving me 248 pages to be sucked into her world. Most YA romance books alternate between a male and female p.o.v. these days but when you’re setting your boo...more
Shainna
A bit disappointing but somewhat cute until the whole obsession thing crept in and then it was a bit Twilight-y.

For starters, I have an issue with the cover. It takes place in Leningrad where there are a ton of bridges. If you like bridges, go to St. Petersburg, they're phenomenal. Just make sure you're on the right side of the city before certain bridges close down or you will be stuck on the other side of the city and no way to make it back. So out of all those bridges, they pick Red Square, w...more
Kristina
I didn't realize that this book takes place in 1982, which made it so much more interesting. Laura is in Communist Soviet Union, and the government has so much control over it's people, it sickening. Laura has always wanted to go to Russia and learn more about the dark, bloody past of this country, but the college program she is does not allow for anything besides what is government approved. When she meets Alexei (who goes by Alyosha) she learns what life is really like for it's occupants.

I lov...more
Tiff at Mostly YA Lit
I knew I needed to read this book after reading Natalie Standiford's Modern Love article in the New York Times where she discusses the real life circumstances that The Boy on the Bridge is based on: her own life. I was captivated by her story of falling in love and being healed during her study abroad year...and the practical dangers of being in love with a Russian before the fall of the Soviet Union.

Initially, I just didn't believe that anyone could be that naive or unsafe as to do some of the...more
Sarah
I quite liked this, it's definitely different and is written in a way that feels intimate, despite the third person. I loved that it was truly historical and felt rooted in the time (the 1980s) and didn't lazily fall back on music references to create faux authenticity and nostalgia. Rather, political, social and cultural realities are woven into the story, and it was never info-dumpy. I felt like I was experiencing 1980s Leningrad right along with the main character, Laura, and felt as simultan...more
Books & Sensibility
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.

Because 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 jea...more
Jen Ryland
Natalie Standiford's How to Say Goodbye in Robot and Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters are huge favorites of mine, so I was super-excited to read this.

Boy on the Bridge immersed me in an intriguing and completely foreign world: 1982 Leningrad. College student Laura Reid is participating in an exchange program, spending a semester working on her Russian and soaking up the culture.

What I loved most about this book was that the setting was such a unique one for YA. I was fascinated to learn more...more
Kiersten
See more of my reviews at We Live and Breathe Books

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...more
Dawn Teresa
I must admit, I immediately worried that this story would be similar to Anna and the French Kiss, which I kind of loathed. The Boy on the Bridge started off fairly well, with Laura describing life as an American studying abroad in Leningrad. Feeling isolated and lonely in her dreary life in Russia, Laura meets Alexei, or Alyosha, as he prefers to be called, when, on the bridge near her dormitory, he rescues her from the torment of aggressive gypsy beggar women. The implied violence of these wome...more
Jocelin
I was not expecting an epic love story, but I wasn't expecting the ending to be as ambiguous as it was. The story takes place in 1980's Leningrad. An exchange student is studying Russian culture abroad and immersing herself in a seemingly spontaneous and unexpected love affair. Laura seemed like a typical teenager, Alouysa seemed like a mysterious and interesting Russian. All was not what it seemed in this story of love in a foreign land.
Laura was incredibly reckless and took way too many chanc...more
Leah
http://theprettygoodgatsby.wordpress....

As part of her Russian Studies major at Brown University, Laura Reid enters a study abroad program where she'll attend a university in Leningrad for six months, completely immersing herself in all Russia has to offer. Initially she dutifully attends every class and only hangs out with her roommates and the other American students. Everything changes the day Laura has a run-in with some gypsies on a bridge. The women nearly force her to give them whatever m...more
Liza Wiemer
An accurate portrayal of the Soviet Union in the 1980s. Terrifying and heartbreaking. Highly recommend.

When Laura goes to Leningrad for a semester abroad program, she believes meeting Alyosha on the bridge leading to her foreigners only dorm is a chance encounter. She quickly develops deep feelings for him and it appears that he feels the same way. He and his friends are hungry for anything that connects them to America. Does he love her because she's wonderful, bright, kind or because of what s...more
Ashling
I received the ARC at BEA.

I think I must be getting old. In junior high, even high school, I would have thought this story was so romantic and heartbreaking. But now (at the wise old age of almost-27), I thought the story was a bit over-the-top and melodramatic, like a soap opera.

The Boy on the Bridge is a romance set in 1980s Soviet Russia, when the KGB reigned supreme, and the food was apparently terrible. The story focuses on Laura, an American exchange student doing a semester in Leningrad....more
Leslie
This is one of those books for me where at the end I didn't know how to really feel about it. It took me some time to finally settle on a rating since it fell into that grey area in which it wasn't horrible, but yet it wasn't the best I've read. I settled on the rating because it was well written young love story set against the backdrop of Communist Russia in the 1980's where the Cold War was at its peak.

With this serious setting, Standiford did a great job of using the love story between Laur...more
Wendy
Rated four stars because of how entertained I was, in an odd way. I loved the Soviet setting; all this is something I haven't seen before. But the writing, in general, I found a little awkward, and most of the characters fairly flat--the Russians more full-realized than the Americans, but then, most of them are third-tier characters. I wondered if, possibly, the author was too close to the story to write it effectively as fiction. The setting is described so well, but the dialogue and plotting f...more
JennRenee



I was really excited for this book. I love the 80's, Russia sounded like a great change of scenery, and I love another book by this author. I wanted to dig into it and finish it in one setting, since it was a pretty small book. Unfortunately I was a tad bit disappointed. The book had some really great stuff but fell short on some of the more important parts for me.





Laura loves everything about Russia. The history, the language, and of course the boys. She takes a year of college and spends it go...more
Leonel
http://luhathoughts.blogspot.com/2013...

You can never judge a book by its cover. I thought Natalie Standiford's "The Boy On The Bridge" was a nice light read, a young adult love story that's cutesy. Set in 1982, it tells a story of a young exchange student named Laura who accidentally meets a Russian boy named Aloysha (Alexei) and they fall in love. Pretty simple, right. But this is in the middle of the cold war, so we get into an internal conflict as to whether Alyosha's love is genuine, or is...more
Jennie Smith
I read this novel right after returning from a weeks vacation in Germany visiting my best friend who was a foreign exchange student my senior year in high school. While I was there, I was able to see the world through a different lens, so to speak. I saw remnants of World War 2, peaceful protests and demonstrations about the Turkish insurgency as well as many other things that we see in the news, but don't necessarily experience first hand. This book did the same for me. It is set during the Col...more
Ms. Yingling
Laura is spending a semester in Leningrad in 1982 because she is a Russian studies major at Brown. It’s cold, the food is bad, and the locals aren’t exactly friendly, until she meets Alyosha when he saves her from begging gypsy women. The two hit it off, and Laura gets to see a side of Russia previously unavailable to her. Alyosha is an artist who has run afoul of his father and makes his living painting movie posters. He and Laura travel around, fall in love, and eventually make plans to be mar...more
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
3.5 stars

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 story...more
Elise
The Boy on the Bridge takes place in Leningrad, Russia in 1982 where we follow 19-year-old Laura's adventures as a study abroad student. The book is historical fiction, and even though I did know the facts of how it was to live in Eastern Europe during the 80's and 90's, I was still shocked at how bad life was for most of the people in this book. Because if you think about it, the 1980's aren't that long ago!

Anyway, on to the plot! It's all about the forbidden romance between Laura and the Russi...more
Nikki
Oh, I had such high hopes for The Boy on the Bridge. It sounded like something I would absolutely love and something that would break my heart at the same time. And while I did enjoy it, it just wasn't something I really loved.

There was definitely something about the writing, though, that just captivated me. I was just drawn into this so-different world, both fascinated and horrified by the conditions of a 1982 Russia. Standiford does a wonderful job recreating the world with little seemingly i...more
Iroquois
Well it rarely happens but when it does it's a great reading experience: this book was gonna be 2 for me but then I suddenly found myself changing my opinion and it's become a 4. I think what I liked best about it is that it does have this very realistic quality to it. And ironically that's what was making it dull for me in the beginning. When I read YA fiction books the pacing is generally a lot like films, edited to where action, drama,comedy, etc are balanced in a way that allows the reader t...more
Emily Ragsdale
So misleading. No, this isn't one of those dreamy "exchange student romances", no matter what the cover or blurb make it sound like. It's weird and kind of depressing. Laura is a dimwit (she's been dreaming of Russia since she was in elementary school yet all she does is complain about being bored and missing her sleazy semi-boyfriend once she gets there), Alyosha is just using her as a ticket to America, and their "love story" is more like a cautionary "what not to do" tale. Maybe 2 stars isn't...more
Michele Fortier
Mixed feelings, I feel like this deserves a 3.5, really. I was initially expecting something like Anna and The French Kiss with a dash of Sarah Dessen, but this was a bit darker than that. The book was interesting more in the whole "studying abroad in Russia in the 80's" than it was for the romance plot line. Their relationship is a bit obsessive and pretty unhealthy, (she skips all her classes to make-out with this Russian guy) and I felt like the ending was weird and ambiguous and came about r...more
Holly
As a linguist who traveled behind the Iron Curtain, I'm quite familiar with the Soviet Union in 1982. I'm happy to report this is a VERY ACCURATE representation of how it was to live in the big cities of the USSR on a daily basis. The attitudes of the Russian characters are spot-on. The reactions of the American students to what they are witnessing is also well-done.

The plot is pared-down and elegant, the story is compelling and had me both staying up late to find out how it ends, then haunted...more
Gabrielle Carolina
Standiford managed to write Soviet-Russia a love letter without romanticizing it one bit!

As is often the case with "issue" books, like this, the main character is very one-dimensional, however the nature of the love story was amazing. Even now I cannot decide if he truly loved her, if he always meant to love her, or if his intentions were always to use her and he just played the part all the way until the bitter end.

I read The Boy on the Bridge in one sitting and would recommend it to anyone l...more
Eden
May 29, 2013 Eden marked it as to-read
So remember how Maureen Johnson did that whole coverflip thing to show the trend of gendered covers? Well, that was the first thing I thought of when I saw this. First, the italic font with the cutsey sans serif font for the title? And PW's review says "Standiford paints a somber portrait of communist Russia during the early 1980s in this love story tinged with intrigue"--yeah, does this cover scream "sombre" to you? Uh-uh.
Sophie
Meh.

This book started as a sweet romance between an American girl and a Russian boy in Soviet Leningrad, and then it turned sort of sinister. There was some question if Alyosha really loved Laura or if he just wanted to marry her and get a ticket to the US, so I had trouble trusting him about anything, which soured me on the romance a bit. That may have been deliberate, since that atmosphere of distrust affected everything in the Soviet Union. But he does act pretty creepy at times, following La...more
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Natalie Standiford, author of "How to Say Goodbye in Robot," "Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters," and the popular "Space Dog" and "Dating Game" series, has written picture books, nonfiction, chapter books, teen novels, and even horror novels for young adults. Standiford also plays bass in the rock band Tiger Beat, with fellow YA authors Libba Bray, Daniel Ehrenhaft, and Barnabas Miller.
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“Here was the Russia she'd loved since childhood, the dark, violent, passionate place where the life of the mind and spirit were as real as the life of the body.” 4 likes
“Laura, this isn't love. Love lets you go on a trip without following you. Love can live without you for a week, knowing you'll come back.'

'No, it can't.' The afternoon shadows grew long and cold. In spite of the chill, a heat rose up inside her and flooded her face. 'That's how you know it's true love. When he can't live without you.'

Karen shook her head. 'That's how you know it's obsession. Or something else.”
4 likes
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