publication: July 30th 2013 by Scholastic Press
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 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 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 Cold War and Laura is experiencing the world through a different lens just as I did, but on a grander scale.
Laura goes to Russia intent on experiencing the culture that she fell in love with though its language. She doesn't, however, intend to fall in love. The dynamics between Laura and Alexei (also known as Alyosha) are powerful and heartbreaking. Natalie has done an amazing job at showing just how much different worlds can be, yet be faced with the same emotions and heartbreak. I was completely sucked into the world in which Alyosha lives and shows Laura and was pulling for them the entire time. There was so much authenticity in this novel that when I read that Natalie Standiford spent time there during college, I could feel the passion and authenticity even more.
This beautiful love story is avaliable today so make sure to head out and get it!