The Boy on the Bridge

The Boy on the Bridge by Natalie Standiford (Received Advanced Readers Copy from BEA 2013)

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Laura Reid has dreamed of visiting Russia ever since she learned about the gritty and gruesome history in her grade school history class. Now a college student, Laura’s opportunity to study in Leningrad Russia is a dream come true.

So what if her time there takes place during the war? So what if the only reason a Russian person will take interest in her is for a one way ticket out of there? So what if there are so many rules, regulations, and boundaries in place she’ll never get to really experience the Russia she’s so longed to experience? All that matters is that her dream of visiting this vivid country is finally coming true.

But soon, Laura finds that Russia isn’t as vivid as she hoped. It’s cold, bitterly so. It’s grey, and unforgiving. Where’s the art? The college parties? The culture? Laura wants more. So when a chance meeting with a boy on the bridge occurs, Laura jumps at her chance to throw herself into, not only the Russian culture and experience, but a new relationship.

Being with Alexi, also known as Alyosha, means breaking rules and overstepping boundaries. Through him Laura experiences the Russia she’s always known to exist in her heart – the Russia full of art rather than soldiers. The Russia full of parties where Russians and Americans meet and experience one another.

Beyond that, Laura experiences love – truly, madly, and deeply. She loves Alyosha just as much as he loves her. Or so she thinks ….

The Boy on the Bridge written by author Natalie Standiford is a realistic romance set against the often chilly – literally and figuratively speaking – Russia during the Cold War.

Standiford’s a pro already. So as expected, the writing that fills the pages is strong. Besides that, it’s descriptive. Through her masterful writing, Standiford transports readers into a different time and place. Reader’s will not have to imagine the life Laura was living in Russia, they will experience alongside her. Laura often commented about the harsh weather. Reading, you can’t help but shiver. She often commented on the drab sky. Reading, you can’t help by picture the grey clouds hanging overhead. She often commented on Alyosha’s beautiful looks. Reading, you can’t help be feel as if you know him from the inside out.

Even though the writing was strong and descriptive, I found , that there were many predictable moments within this short book. Those predictabilities did not spoil the book, but ultimately left me wishing the storyline had been taken in a different direction. As a reader I wanted some more twists and turns. I wanted to be taken by surprise, just as Laura was the first day she met Alyosha on the bridge. I wanted something … unexpected.

The Boy on the Bridge is a character driven book. Flawed as they may be, Standiford characters are honest, and true. Easy to sympathize with and easier to root for, Laura is a great leading lady. She’s an average girl, exploring the many possibilities that life has to offer her, just as most college students do. She may be naive at times, and readers may not always agree with her decisions, but she’s real.

I enjoyed Laura as a character, no matter how frustrated I got at her. Admittedly there were times I wanted to shake her, but when the story panned out as a whole, I understood why she made the decisions she did. Beyond Laura, I absolutely loved her roommate Karen. She was funky, wise beyond her years, and had absolutely no problem speaking her mind. I wish that she had more play time. Personally, I wish she had her own book! She was a great sidekick, and beyond that a great friend to main character Laura.

Alyosha, the male lead of The Boy on the Bridge, is another main character that is both well crafted and easy to relate to. What makes him so is the fact that he’s a character that is full of emotions that readers pick up the moment he is introduced to the story. With that, however, I found moments of suspicion. I believed that Alyosha cared deeply for Laura, but I also believed that there was an ulterior  motives as well.

Standiford’s The Boy on the Bridge is a quick read, and one that reader’s will enjoy through and through.

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