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?
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.