cover image The Boy on the Bridge

The Boy on the Bridge

Natalie Standiford. Scholastic Press, $17.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-545-33481-5

Standiford (Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters) paints a somber portrait of communist Russia during the early 1980s in this love story tinged with intrigue. Laura, an American college student studying in Leningrad, is homesick and tired of “bitter cold, inedible food, filthy dorms, boring classes.” That’s before she meets Alyosha, a handsome young Russian artist who appears on a bridge just in time to save her from two aggressive gypsy women. Although Laura has been warned not to “fall” for Russian men, who might have ulterior motives, she is drawn to her mysterious rescuer and arranges to meet with him secretly. Their rendezvous become increasingly frequent and intense, and the city that once seemed so bleak to Laura suddenly comes to life. It also becomes more dangerous, making Laura wonder whether Alyosha’s affection is sincere. The desperation behind the Iron Curtain is dramatically portrayed as Laura witnesses the restrictions Alyosha and his friends endure. Besides offering readers passion and suspense, Standiford raises thought-provoking questions about how far people should go for the sake of love and freedom. Ages 14–up. Agent: Sarah Burnes, the Gernert Company. (Aug.)