The Girl They Left Behind
A sweeping family saga and love story that offers a vivid and unique portrayal of life in war-torn 1941 Bucharest and life behind the Iron Curtain during the Soviet Union occupation—perfect for fans of Lilac Girls and Sarah’s Key.On a freezing night in January 1941, a little Jewish girl is found on the steps of an apartment building in Bucharest. With Romania recently allied with the Nazis, the Jewish population is in grave danger, undergoing increasingly violent persecution. The girl is placed in an orphanage and eventually adopted by a wealthy childless couple who name her Natalia. As she assimilates into her new life, she all but forgets the parents who were forced to leave her behind. They are even further from her mind when Romania falls under Soviet occupation.Yet, as Natalia comes of age in a bleak and hopeless world, traces of her identity pierce the surface of her everyday life, leading gradually to a discovery that will change her destiny. She has a secret crush on Victor, an intense young man who as an impoverished student befriended her family long ago. Years later, when Natalia is in her early twenties and working at a warehouse packing fruit, she and Victor, now an important official in the Communist regime, cross paths again. This time they are fatefully drawn into a passionate affair despite the obstacles swirling around them and Victor’s dark secrets.When Natalia is suddenly offered a one-time chance at freedom, Victor is determined to help her escape, even if it means losing her. Natalia must make an agonizing decision: remain in Bucharest with her beloved adoptive parents and the man she has come to love, or seize the chance to finally live life on her own terms, and to confront the painful enigma of her past.

The Girl They Left Behind Details

TitleThe Girl They Left Behind
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseOct 9th, 2018
PublisherAtria Books
ISBN-139781501187681
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, War, World War II

The Girl They Left Behind Review

  • Norma * Traveling Sister and proud Grandma!!!
    January 1, 1970
    Haunting, compelling & engrossing!THE GIRL THEY LEFT BEHIND by ROXANNE VELETZOS is a fascinating, captivating, and deeply moving historical fiction novel inspired by true events of the author’s mother. The way that the story unfolds is so powerful, poignant and so delicately and beautifully written that easily held my attention. My absolute favorite historical fiction novels are ones based on true events. Just knowing that is always deeply affecting and brings out these intense feelings that Haunting, compelling & engrossing!THE GIRL THEY LEFT BEHIND by ROXANNE VELETZOS is a fascinating, captivating, and deeply moving historical fiction novel inspired by true events of the author’s mother. The way that the story unfolds is so powerful, poignant and so delicately and beautifully written that easily held my attention. My absolute favorite historical fiction novels are ones based on true events. Just knowing that is always deeply affecting and brings out these intense feelings that I have for the storyline, characters and setting. It just makes me that much more appreciative and transfixed in the story being told. ROXANNE VELETZOS delivers an absolutely beautiful and lovely written story here with compelling and strong characters, a harrowing and vivid setting, and an intimate and heartfelt storyline. The author did a wonderful job at fully immersing me into this story and the characters lives. It was heartwarming and also heartbreaking to read and at one point it gave me goosebumps all over. I absolutely love it when a story produces so many different emotions and reactions from me.I was totally fascinated with the photos that were included in this book and looked at them many times while I was reading this book. Norma’s Stats:Cover: Eye-catching, hauntingly beautiful, intriguing, impactful and an excellent representation to storyline.Title: The title immediately intrigued me and is such a moving, effective and extremely fitting representation to storyline. Writing/Prose: Well-written, poetic, eloquent, vivid, fluent, gorgeous and captivating. Absolutely loved the writing-style!Plot: Engrossing, emotional, descriptive, thought-provoking, interesting, heartfelt, fast-paced, and entertaining.Ending: Tender, loving, touching, and bittersweet that gave me goosebumps. Overall: This was an absolutely stunning historical fiction novel and one that I won’t soon forget! Would highly recommend!Thank you so much to Simon & Schuster Canada and Roxanne Veletzos for an ARC.Review can also be found on our Two Sisters Lost in a Coulee Reading book blog:https://twosisterslostinacoulee.com/
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  • Lindsay - Traveling Sister
    January 1, 1970
    4 stars! A beautiful and heart-wrenching story about family, love, loss and letting go.“In anguish and despair we release this child into the hands of God, with hope and faith that she may be saved.” This was the note that was left in a little girls’ beautiful velvet dress on the day that her Jewish parents fled the city of Bucharest, Romania leaving their young daughter abandoned and alone on the streets. This little girl was the author, Roxanne Veletzos’s, own mother and this is her story.The 4 stars! A beautiful and heart-wrenching story about family, love, loss and letting go.“In anguish and despair we release this child into the hands of God, with hope and faith that she may be saved.” This was the note that was left in a little girls’ beautiful velvet dress on the day that her Jewish parents fled the city of Bucharest, Romania leaving their young daughter abandoned and alone on the streets. This little girl was the author, Roxanne Veletzos’s, own mother and this is her story.The main character in this engrossing novel is Natalia, a four-year-old Jewish girl. Natalia’s parents went into hiding, leaving their young daughter behind, in the hopes that a loving family would find and care for her until they could safely return and bring her back home. Natalia is placed in an orphanage and quickly adopted by a loving and wealthy couple who do not have children of their own. Natalia is an unforgettable character – she really got to me. We follow her journey through childhood and then adolescence and beyond where her curiosity stirs and she begins to question her birth parents decision to abandon her.This wartime novel is heartbreaking, shocking and emotional. I truly felt for this family and what they endured. There were many pieces of history revealed that I had not known about which made the book so much more impactful for me. The fact that this novel is based on the authors’ own family was a jaw dropping revelation. I finished reading the book with tears streaming down my face.This book is split into three parts. I found Part 1 and Part 3 the most captivating and moving, with my attention wandering slightly during Part 2. The writing was excellent, the storyline at that point felt a bit drawn out and less impactful. Regardless of this, the ending made up for any lack of spark I felt in the middle section. This is a powerful and deeply moving book that will sit on my mind long after writing this review. This was a Traveling Sister read that I shared with Norma and Brenda. We all enjoyed it immensely and highly recommend it. To find this review, along with the other Traveling Sister reviews, please visit our blog at:https://twosisterslostinacoulee.com/2...Thank you to NetGalley, Atria Books and Roxanne Veletzos for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review!The Girl They Left Behind is available now!
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  • Marialyce
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 valiant starsMy reviews can be seen here: http://yayareadslotsofbooks.wordpress...I have always been attracted to books about the second World War and the people who lived in Europe during that awful time. They, the ones who survived were left, with not only the scars incurred upon themselves, but also the countries in which they lived that were devastated and in ruin. In this book: The Girl They Left Behind, we meet a young Jewish family who are trying to escape the scourges of being 4.5 valiant starsMy reviews can be seen here: http://yayareadslotsofbooks.wordpress...I have always been attracted to books about the second World War and the people who lived in Europe during that awful time. They, the ones who survived were left, with not only the scars incurred upon themselves, but also the countries in which they lived that were devastated and in ruin. In this book: The Girl They Left Behind, we meet a young Jewish family who are trying to escape the scourges of being persecuted for being Jewish. They leave their young four year old daughter, on a doorstep hoping for the best, that she will be found and saved. It is a terrible option, but one that they are forced to make as they are sure of their capture and probably their death. They bear major regrets and love and adore their child vowing if they survive somehow someday they will find their daughter.It is Bucharest and the war rages as young Natalia, the abandoned child, is found and adopted by a wealthy Romanian family. Life seems to be on the upswing for Natalia as the people who become her adoptive parents are kind, loving, and wealthy. However, as in all things the winds of war blow in all kinds of directions, and after the war ends, Romania finds itself under Russian control and locked behind what would eventually be called the Iron Curtain. Harsh and cruel the realities that Natalia and her family faces are devastating and as Natalia grows she falls in love with a man, Victor, who has mysterious but powerful connections to the regime.This was a most poignant story, one that showed how many were forced to survive after the war. It was a true test of survival and hope that someday things would be better although the bleakness is so well portrayed in this book. We all hope for the best in our lives and Natalia does as well. She adores her family and Victor, but hard choices need to be made so that she can move forward and find in herself and others her strength, her freedom, and those who love her.I recommend this story to those who love a well done historical fiction. It was a riveting story once again reminding us that we, who enjoy freedom, are ever so lucky and fortunate to be living where we are.Thank you to Roxanne Veletzos, Atria Books, and NetGalley for a copy of this well done historical fiction novel.
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  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
    January 1, 1970
    5 enchanting stars to The Girl They Left Behind! The Girl They Left Behind is an enchanting story of family based on the author’s mother’s early life. In Bucharest, Romania, in 1941, a three-year-old girl is found alone on the steps of an apartment building. She is Jewish, and Romania has recently aligned with the Nazis, so all the Jews are risking peril if they cannot escape. She is taken in at an orphanage and eventually adopted by a couple, Anton and Despina, who name her Natalia. 5 enchanting stars to The Girl They Left Behind! ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ The Girl They Left Behind is an enchanting story of family based on the author’s mother’s early life. In Bucharest, Romania, in 1941, a three-year-old girl is found alone on the steps of an apartment building. She is Jewish, and Romania has recently aligned with the Nazis, so all the Jews are risking peril if they cannot escape. She is taken in at an orphanage and eventually adopted by a couple, Anton and Despina, who name her Natalia. Romania then falls into the hands of the Soviets and life changes for everyone all over again. The family faces bombings, starvation, and threats to their health thanks to a deadly infection. Through all of this, they are steadfast as a family. Natalia grows up in this dismal and sad world under the Communist regime, and she occasionally gets peeks at her own identity, one she does not fully understand since being separated from her biological parents. She later falls in love with Victor, who works for the Communists. He is determined to help her escape when she has the chance, even though he cannot go with her. She would also be leaving her loving adoptive parents if she goes. My favorites aspect of this book involved the love for family. Anton and Despina strongly desired to have a child, and in a time when they were feeling hopeless, Natalia enters their lives. Natalia was cherished, and it seems they lived their lives making up for all she had lost. Another wonderful facet is that we hear from Natalia’s birth parents. They are always searching for her. I also appreciated the Romanian setting. I have not read a book set in Romania before, and I found the history enlightening and the cultural aspects were fascinating. The Girl They Left Behind is a deeply emotional, fully immersive tale of the sheer will to survive and how intense love defines a family whether they are close in physical space or solely in the heart. Thank you to Atria for the ARC to read and review. All opinions are my own. My reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com
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  • Dorie - Cats&Books :)
    January 1, 1970
    I have read and listened to many books about WWII but never one that took place in Romania. This was an audiobook that virtually caused me to stop doing everything I could just to sit and listen to the voice of the narrator. I don’t usually write long reviews of audiobooks but this book moved me to tears more than once and is a story that should be heard.This novel starts in Bucharest, Romania in 1941 when Jewish people were being rounded up, beaten and killed by the government which was then I have read and listened to many books about WWII but never one that took place in Romania. This was an audiobook that virtually caused me to stop doing everything I could just to sit and listen to the voice of the narrator. I don’t usually write long reviews of audiobooks but this book moved me to tears more than once and is a story that should be heard.This novel starts in Bucharest, Romania in 1941 when Jewish people were being rounded up, beaten and killed by the government which was then aligned with Nazi Germany. Two parents have to make a life and death decision, to leave their 4 year old daughter behind as they try to escape the city, hoping that she will be adopted and have a good life. They feared that they would be killed and wanted to give their daughter the hope of survival even though their hearts broke with having to leave her behind.Natalia is that little girl. After some time in an orphanage she is fortunate to be adopted by a kind and very wealthy family who give her love and attention. They were never able to have a child of their own. For many years Anton and Despina live a charmed life. Anton had built a chain of stores which did well and he was able to provide a very good life for his family. However when the war ends, the Soviets take over Romania which will become part of their empire which will be ruled with an iron fist. All of this captured land will be known to those in the West as Behind the Iron Curtain, as no news can flow in or out.Anton and Despina are stripped of their wealth, their home, their stores and made to live a dismal life in a communal shared apartment. There is little food and life is bleak for everyone.In the end, against all odds, Natalia will be given the chance of a lifetime, to come to the United States. It is here that she will finally meet her birth parents. With the help of Victor, Anton’s family friend, who worked for the Communist government in Romania, the money that her biological parents saved, will help buy her freedom from the hands of the Soviets.This is a long, heart wrenching story which is hard to sum up in a review. It is a story that is based on familial facts that the author has researched. Her mother was that orphan left behind in Bucharest. This is an impeccably narrated audiobook that I would recommend to all lovers of historical fiction.
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  • Brenda -Traveling Sister
    January 1, 1970
    The Girl They Left Behind is an emotional family saga and a love story filled with tragedy yet written with hope that drew me right in one of my favorite types of stories. Roxanne Veletzos passionately and vividly weaves her family’s story, some history of WWll Romania with a fictional side to some of this story. She starts the story off by vividly capturing the desperation of Jewish parents who left their daughter behind in hopes she will be safely taken care of and survive the violence The Girl They Left Behind is an emotional family saga and a love story filled with tragedy yet written with hope that drew me right in one of my favorite types of stories. Roxanne Veletzos passionately and vividly weaves her family’s story, some history of WWll Romania with a fictional side to some of this story. She starts the story off by vividly capturing the desperation of Jewish parents who left their daughter behind in hopes she will be safely taken care of and survive the violence surrounding them. We are taken on a heartbreaking journey with her grandparents’ story that she changed very little of. I appreciate how Roxanne Veletzos filled in the mystery to some of this story with her fictional account to the story. Making this such a hopeful and satisfying story to read right to the very end. I highly recommend!Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for our ARC to read and review
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  • Erin
    January 1, 1970
    Based on true events of the author's mother, The Girl They Left Behind is an endearing story set in Romania that immediately took my heart! Two people fleeing in the night as the Germans enter Bucharest to roundup the Jewish population make the difficult decision to leave their three year old daughter behind. Enter Anton and Despania, a Romanian couple who have struggled amidst four devastating miscarriages. When Anton suggests a visit to the local orphanage, they soon find the family they have Based on true events of the author's mother, The Girl They Left Behind is an endearing story set in Romania that immediately took my heart! Two people fleeing in the night as the Germans enter Bucharest to roundup the Jewish population make the difficult decision to leave their three year old daughter behind. Enter Anton and Despania, a Romanian couple who have struggled amidst four devastating miscarriages. When Anton suggests a visit to the local orphanage, they soon find the family they have been dreaming of for so long. But there will be many troubles ahead as the Germans are soon replaced by the Soviets and the Romania they once loved is now very vulnerable.Without a doubt one of the most heartfelt WWII/Cold War stories of the year! If I had one little quibble, the last 1/3 of the novel really escalated towards resolution and I wasn't totally ready to let go of the characters....yet! Thanks to Netgalley for an e- ARC in exchange for an honest review
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  • Kate Quinn
    January 1, 1970
    Will definitely be giving a cover quote for this one--forthcoming!Updated: "Roxanne Veletzos pens a fresh, original debut in THE GIRL THEY LEFT BEHIND, twining personal family drama together with the lesser-known history of World War II Romania. When an explosion of horrific anti-Semitic violence sends a Jewish family fleeing into the night, driving them to leave their only daughter in the safe arms of new parents, the consequences will reverberate past Hitler's defeat through the Soviet Will definitely be giving a cover quote for this one--forthcoming!Updated: "Roxanne Veletzos pens a fresh, original debut in THE GIRL THEY LEFT BEHIND, twining personal family drama together with the lesser-known history of World War II Romania. When an explosion of horrific anti-Semitic violence sends a Jewish family fleeing into the night, driving them to leave their only daughter in the safe arms of new parents, the consequences will reverberate past Hitler's defeat through the Soviet oppression of post-war Bucharest. Even readers saturated with Second World War dramas will be enthralled by this moving tale of two ferociously-devoted mothers, the daughter they share, and the sacrifices they are willing to make for a new future. Gripping, tragic, yet filled with passion and hope--I couldn't put it down."
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  • Brenda
    January 1, 1970
    Bucharest, 1941 and the little Jewish girl, not quite four years old, had been abandoned in the frosty night air; discovered by the concierge, she was cold, limp and whimpering. Some time later, she was taken to an orphanage where she withdrew into herself, frightened, not knowing what was happening. When Despina and Anton, a wealthy but childless couple desperate for a child adopted her, they named her Natalia. Her future was assured.But war ravaged the country, and turmoil surrounded them with Bucharest, 1941 and the little Jewish girl, not quite four years old, had been abandoned in the frosty night air; discovered by the concierge, she was cold, limp and whimpering. Some time later, she was taken to an orphanage where she withdrew into herself, frightened, not knowing what was happening. When Despina and Anton, a wealthy but childless couple desperate for a child adopted her, they named her Natalia. Her future was assured.But war ravaged the country, and turmoil surrounded them with the Nazis in control; bombing a constant in their lives and the sounds of sirens sending fear through them. But it was when the Soviets took over that things took a turn for the worst. Starvation, oppression, danger – would they ever know peace again?But when Natalia was in her early twenties an opportunity to flee was offered. What would she do? Would she grasp it with both hands? How could she leave the country she’d known all her life; the parents who had given her everything? Poignant, deeply moving and intensely heart breaking, The Girl They Left Behind is a historical fiction novel based on author Roxanne Veletzos’ mother’s life. Set during the days of WWII and continuing into the years following, it shows immense courage and a family’s incredible love and devotion to one another. The author’s notes plus family photographs at the end give the story deeper meaning – an excellent novel which I thoroughly enjoyed.With thanks to Simon & Schuster AU for my uncorrected proof ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Zoe
    January 1, 1970
    Evocative, absorbing, and incredibly affecting!The Girl They Left Behind is a powerful, riveting tale that sweeps you into a country ravaged and oppressed by war and then forced to endure economic instability, political upheaval, social injustice, and lack of freedoms under Stalinist rule.The prose is poetic and enchanting. The characters are multi-layered, resilient, and vulnerable. And the plot, set in Romania during the mid-1900s, is a profoundly moving tale about war, familial relationships, Evocative, absorbing, and incredibly affecting!The Girl They Left Behind is a powerful, riveting tale that sweeps you into a country ravaged and oppressed by war and then forced to endure economic instability, political upheaval, social injustice, and lack of freedoms under Stalinist rule.The prose is poetic and enchanting. The characters are multi-layered, resilient, and vulnerable. And the plot, set in Romania during the mid-1900s, is a profoundly moving tale about war, familial relationships, heartbreak, loss, guilt, grief, suspicion, desperation, resilience, courage, coming of age, and hope.Overall, The Girl They Left Behind is the perfect blend of historical facts, compelling fiction, and palpable emotion. It’s a beautifully written story that is nostalgic, heart-wrenching, and impactful and does a remarkable job of highlighting not only the indomitable spirit of humanity to endure, survive, conquer, and even love under even the most atrocious of circumstances but also Veletzos’ passion for her maternal heritage.Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Bev Walkling
    January 1, 1970
    A huge thank you to #NetGalley and #Simon&Schuster for granting me my wish and allowing me to read this book. I finished it yesterday and have thought a lot about it since then. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.I have read many books that are set in the time period of the Second World War. In many ways it was a time period that shaped my life as my parents and relatives lived through it (except for a few) and it affected them in ways that trickled down to my A huge thank you to #NetGalley and #Simon&Schuster for granting me my wish and allowing me to read this book. I finished it yesterday and have thought a lot about it since then. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.I have read many books that are set in the time period of the Second World War. In many ways it was a time period that shaped my life as my parents and relatives lived through it (except for a few) and it affected them in ways that trickled down to my generation. This story in this fact-inspired novel began during the war but continued on afterwards to a time period that I do remember living through and though it was set in the past, the story told resonates deeply with what I see happening around us in this present era as well.The story begins in Romania. I haven't read a lot about the war in Romania so I found it fascinating to discover what life was like for the people there at that time. In 1941 during the time of the Bucharest pogrom, a young Jewish couple escape from their home while the local police are waiting to take them away. In order to survive themselves and offer a better chance of survival to their young daughter, they are forced to leave her out on the streets. She is found by a caring woman who takes her to a local orphanage and eventually Natalia (as she is called) is adopted by a well to do young couple (Despina and Anton). Despina and Anton were unable to have children of their own and Natalia's entrance into their lives brought them tremendous joy.The incredible incapacitating grief of Natalia's parents at their loss is well described. It was hard to read at times because I could identify as a parent with the huge sense of loss they would have to have been feeling and yet Natalia blossomed over the next few years and life was good until the war came directly to Bucharest and the bombs began to fall.This story took me through so many high's and lows. Extremely well written, it is dark in tone at times because the war was dark and life was not easy and when the war ended, life did not go back to what it had been before. As the Russians took over Despina and Anton lost pretty much everything they owned except their lives and their daughter. Even their lives were at stake at times. Throughout, their love for their adopted daughter was so great that they were willing to sacrifice themselves on her behalf.I was crying as I finished reading the book - tears of sadness and tears of happiness, and in the author's after posts I discovered that much of this was the real life story of her grand-parent's who adopted a young girl during the war. There are wonderful photograph's that put faces to their names. What stood out to me in this book was the depth of love that both of Natalia's sets of parents felt for her and showed her. There are parents in our world right now who are forced to give their children up as they try to escape to a better place. Sometimes it ends well - sometimes it doesn't. The lessons shared in this book are ones that we need to take to heart and remember. Natalia could be any one of us. Thanks to Roxanne Veletzos for putting this story to paper.
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  • Tammy
    January 1, 1970
    In Bucharest, Romania, 1941, a young Jewish couple, fleeing from the Nazis, abandons their 3 year old daughter on a doorstep with the hopes someone will take her in and keep her safe. Natalia is put into an orphanage and is soon adopted by a well off childless couple. The story follows Natalia as she grows up behind the Iron Curtain and details the struggles she and her family face. I read a lot of historical fiction but this is the first I've read about the Bucharest pogrom. Roxanne Veletzos In Bucharest, Romania, 1941, a young Jewish couple, fleeing from the Nazis, abandons their 3 year old daughter on a doorstep with the hopes someone will take her in and keep her safe. Natalia is put into an orphanage and is soon adopted by a well off childless couple. The story follows Natalia as she grows up behind the Iron Curtain and details the struggles she and her family face. I read a lot of historical fiction but this is the first I've read about the Bucharest pogrom. Roxanne Veletzos based her book on the life of her own mother, who was abandoned then adopted. The Girl They Left Behind is a captivating, well researched, hard to put down debut! I can't wait to read her next book!
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  • Amy
    January 1, 1970
    4.5/5One of the best parts of reading really well researched HF is learning about otherwise little known pieces of history and I knew next to nothing about what things were like in Romania during World War Two. The author really knew what she was talking about here, her care and attention to the subject matter was heavily apparent and she did a gorgeous job of bringing this story to life while also educating me, such a great bonus!Stories about parents forced to make heartbreaking decisions 4.5/5One of the best parts of reading really well researched HF is learning about otherwise little known pieces of history and I knew next to nothing about what things were like in Romania during World War Two. The author really knew what she was talking about here, her care and attention to the subject matter was heavily apparent and she did a gorgeous job of bringing this story to life while also educating me, such a great bonus!Stories about parents forced to make heartbreaking decisions always hold my attention and when Natalia’s biological parents leave her behind when they are forced to flee for their lives I could only imagine the pain behind this choice. To know the one chance your child has to live is for you to leave them in such a perilous situation? Ahhh SO devastating. This follows Natalia from that life changing moment over the course of several years and I was wholeheartedly invested in her story. Would she be reunited with her birth parents? Would her and her adoptive parents even survive? It was an emotional tale and one that left an impact on me that I won’t forget.Besides a truly compelling plot, this was written so beautifully, almost delicately especially considering the subject matter. It explored the bonds of family and how deep a mother’s love can be, it was about sacrifice, struggle but it was also hopeful and inspiring, such a beautiful combination that always slays me. Highly recommended for HF fans, Veletzos is an author to watch.The Girl They Left Behind in three words: Emotional, Engrossing and Heartbreaking.
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  • Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews
    January 1, 1970
    *https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com4.5 stars‘Perhaps her parents were visiting someone in the building when the girl slipped away without their realizing. But who would let a child wander off in the middle of Dacia Boulevard? Who would leave a child of three, maybe four, in the middle of gunfire and the curfew and dead bodies lining the streets?’Out of the crevices of World War II comes another astonishing tale of endurance, survival, love, the strength of the human spirit and the ultimate *https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com4.5 stars‘Perhaps her parents were visiting someone in the building when the girl slipped away without their realizing. But who would let a child wander off in the middle of Dacia Boulevard? Who would leave a child of three, maybe four, in the middle of gunfire and the curfew and dead bodies lining the streets?’Out of the crevices of World War II comes another astonishing tale of endurance, survival, love, the strength of the human spirit and the ultimate sacrifice made to preserve the life of a young child. The Girl They Left Behind gives Romania a chance to tell its harrowing experiences of war. Author Roxanne Veletzos draws on the inspiring real life experiences of her family to craft a fact fused with fiction novel, that I ultimately consumed over a weekend.‘Based on a true story’ is the claim on the front cover of The Girl They Left Behind. It is outlined on this book’s back cover blurb, that this story was ultimately taken from the first hand experiences of survival of the author’s family during World War II. This harrowing tale begins with a child, sitting on the steps on a building based in Bucharest in the bitter cold, awaiting the return of her parents. With the Nazi’s encroaching on Romania, this little Jewish girl’s life was seriously under threat. She is saved from certain death when a wealthy couple adopts her from an orphanage. They give her a new name, Natalia, and she embarks on a fresh start. However, the past and memories of the parents that left her that cold January day continues to haunt her. The Girl They Left Behind follows Natalia’s growth and upbringing as she witnesses the influence of the Soviet occupation on all aspects of her life. Natalia’s life is forever changed by an encounter with Victor, a man who is involved in the Communist regime. As Natalia engages in a dalliance with Victor, it is clear Victor has many of his own secrets that he has tried to keep hidden. Through Victor’s lucrative position as an official in the Communist regime, he is finds an opportunity to save Natalia and give her the freedom she deserves. It does mean that he may have to risk losing her forever. For Natalia, it is a war of hearts as she must decide if she should stay back in Bucharest with her family and lover, or reconnect with her past.I have to agree with the author of the cover quote, Armando Lucas Correa, who penned the incredibly moving tale, The German Girl. Correa states ‘There are stories that must be told because in doing so, they shed light on the irreparable consequences of war in the lives of so many innocents.’ It never ceases to amaze me that stories such as The Girl They Left Behind continue to come out of the shadows of the war. We need to continue to circulate these incredible stories of strength and survival, so that no one will have the ability to cast aside the atrocities of war. With the particular focus on a young innocent girl in this story, Natalia’s incredible tale of salvation made this book a special one indeed.I tend to find that books, especially historical fiction based novels that are plucked directly from the first hand experiences of those who lived and survived the war are always filled with so much heart. Roxanne Veletzos has ultimately penned a piece of historical fiction, not a biography, but she pays the ultimate homage to her family. In her ‘Acknowledgments’, Veletzos cites her grandparents, Anton and Despina, who provided such engaging stories, as the inspiration for the concept of this novel. With the added touch of some family photographs at the close of the story, I was able to put a face to these moving experiences.I consider myself quite well versed when it comes to World War II history. I always take a keen interest in this point in time, devouring both fiction and non-fiction titles. So long behold, when The Girl They Left Behind came my way, I was shocked that I knew virtually nothing at all about the Romanian experience of World War II. Veletzos does a magnificent job of resurrecting the pertinent historical facts, atrocities, first hand experiences, the people and the lasting stories to come out of this sorry chapter of decades past. By attaching characters inspired by real life figures, Veletzos injects life and spirit into the incredible acts of desperation, survival, sacrifice and benevolence that existed during this time.Encircling The Girl They Left Behind is a subtle message on the strength of relationships and love – in their different forms. From a parent’s love, to the love one gives to another person’s child in order to give them at shot at life, and passionate love. In all instances Veletzos’ message is clear, to love is to give live – and I appreciated this resounding message very much.‘You were never far from us. All this time, you were here within our souls, every day, every year. Leaving you there had been the hardest thing imaginable, but if we had not, none of us would have survived. Despite it all, in my heart, I always believed I did the right thing.’The Girl They Left Behind opens up the channels of communication around Romania’s experiences of World War II. It is a vehement tale, about the devastating impact on innocent lives and family units during the war. By filling the pages of her novel with passionate and four dimensional characters, who will linger in your mind, Roxanne Veletzos has achieved a great literary feat.
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  • Louise
    January 1, 1970
    How often does the general reader get a chance to read anything about Romania – fiction or non-fiction – in English? The only book I read or even know of is Letters to a Young GymnastLetters to a Young Gymnast (by Naiia Comaneci), so I was glad to see this on Goodreads. Not sure which of my friends labeled it as "to read"… but saw "Romania" in the publisher’s blurb.This story is loosely based on the experience of the author’s mother. You experience, along with Natalia (the author's mother), and How often does the general reader get a chance to read anything about Romania – fiction or non-fiction – in English? The only book I read or even know of is Letters to a Young GymnastLetters to a Young Gymnast (by Naiia Comaneci), so I was glad to see this on Goodreads. Not sure which of my friends labeled it as "to read"… but saw "Romania" in the publisher’s blurb.This story is loosely based on the experience of the author’s mother. You experience, along with Natalia (the author's mother), and her family life in mid-century Eastern Europe and its brutal circumstances over which they have no control. Your first glimpses of the trouble to come are scenes of how Jews hid and fled. The full scale war begins as King Carol, who had brought Romania into the Nazi camp is ousted/abdicates. You see the family’s strategy for surviving Allied bombing. When King Michael surprisingly takes control, you see how the family seeks refuge from Nazi bombing. Without much warning the Russians took over the country and real shortages began for the family. You see how control is implemented and how the group in power takes out its resentments on others. A long time family friend, a true communist believer as a youth, lives in luxury.This is a sad but heartwarming story. There are photos of the real life grandparents who loved and nurtured her mother and of her mother when she was a little girl. This is not the real story, but you can conclude that it was, in spirit, something like the author's mother's young life.
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  • Laurie • The Baking Bookworm
    January 1, 1970
    Roxanne Veletzos has written a engaging, informative and heart-felt story based on her mother's early life during WWII and later during the Soviet occupation of Romania. During the 1941 Pogrom in Bucharest, Veletzos' grandparents made the difficult choice to leave their three-year-old daughter, Natalia, on the steps of a building hoping to give her a chance to survive. Sent to an orphanage, she was quickly adopted by a wealthy couple who were devoted to her and gave her life of privilege. Roxanne Veletzos has written a engaging, informative and heart-felt story based on her mother's early life during WWII and later during the Soviet occupation of Romania. During the 1941 Pogrom in Bucharest, Veletzos' grandparents made the difficult choice to leave their three-year-old daughter, Natalia, on the steps of a building hoping to give her a chance to survive. Sent to an orphanage, she was quickly adopted by a wealthy couple who were devoted to her and gave her life of privilege.Veletzos provides vivid descriptions of Bucharest during WWII and afterwards when the Soviets took control, a time when life for many Romanians continued to be fraught with uncertainty and danger - especially those who didn't support the Communist regime. She includes the lesser known history of Romania during these times and blends her personal family history into a riveting, fictional read.This is a captivating, sometimes heart-wrenching story about family bonds, resilience and hope. I highly recommend The Girl They Left Behind to fans of Historical Fiction that enjoy getting a different perspective in the popular WWII Historical Fiction genre. Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to Atria Books for providing me with a complimentary digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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  • Anna
    January 1, 1970
    It is 1941. A small girl is found abandoned and freezing outside a Bucharest apartment building. Taken to an orphanage, she is fortunate to be adopted by a wealthy childless couple who love and adore her. They name her Natalia, and as she assimilates to her new life, she begins to forget the parents who left her. Life begins to become more difficult as Romania is caught in the thros of WWII, and their monarchy is toppled by the Soviets. For most, they were slowly able to rebuild and find renewed It is 1941. A small girl is found abandoned and freezing outside a Bucharest apartment building. Taken to an orphanage, she is fortunate to be adopted by a wealthy childless couple who love and adore her. They name her Natalia, and as she assimilates to her new life, she begins to forget the parents who left her. Life begins to become more difficult as Romania is caught in the thros of WWII, and their monarchy is toppled by the Soviets. For most, they were slowly able to rebuild and find renewed hope for the future. But not so for those caught behind the iron curtain. For them it was years of fear, government control over every aspect of life and little chance of escape. Through it all, Natalia proves herself to be strong, resilient and resourceful.A beautifully written story of bravery, loyalty and love based upon the author's family history.
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  • Jen
    January 1, 1970
    This was a beautiful historical fiction novel. Set in Bucharest during and post WWII, The Girl They Left Behind follows the life of Natalia through the war and subsequent rise of the Iron Curtain. I was surprised and intrigued to learn this was based largely on the story of the author’s mother and grandparents. This story takes place in an area we don’t hear a lot about in war fiction. When you read about WWII, you’re typically reading about France, Germany, or both. This book took me to a place This was a beautiful historical fiction novel. Set in Bucharest during and post WWII, The Girl They Left Behind follows the life of Natalia through the war and subsequent rise of the Iron Curtain. I was surprised and intrigued to learn this was based largely on the story of the author’s mother and grandparents. This story takes place in an area we don’t hear a lot about in war fiction. When you read about WWII, you’re typically reading about France, Germany, or both. This book took me to a place I likely still have family. My great grandparents would have come from this area. So in a sense, while I didn’t get to meet my great grandparents, I got to learn about the world they came from and what my grandfather fought for. While this book was incredibly personal for the author, it became close to me too. The story of Natalia is written amazingly well and it follows her life as an adopted Jewish girl from Romania and what her family endures during the Soviet occupation. It is an account of deep, profound love, bravery, and family. It’s about what lengths we will go to for our children. Veletzos weaves a dark story into one of hope. And she has done a marvelous job. I received a review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
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  • Denisa Arsene
    January 1, 1970
    This is a nice story, filled with emotions, and whose action begins in the interwar Bucharest, follws through the times of WWII and continuee with afterwards, taking the reader, in the end, across the Atlantic in the States. It was a memento of the atrocities during that dark period. Many of them I knew from my history lessons but a little bit I just discovered. That was a dark period of the entire Europe. Innocents died and suffer. Some of them - with some luck - found a new life..."The girl This is a nice story, filled with emotions, and whose action begins in the interwar Bucharest, follws through the times of WWII and continuee with afterwards, taking the reader, in the end, across the Atlantic in the States. It was a memento of the atrocities during that dark period. Many of them I knew from my history lessons but a little bit I just discovered. That was a dark period of the entire Europe. Innocents died and suffer. Some of them - with some luck - found a new life..."The girl they left behind" was lucky in the end (facing the situation): she had a good home with loving adoptive parents and she found her real ones. She came to understand that - the situation being given - she was one of the lucky. I think I enjoyed best the last part from all of them.
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  • Bookworm
    January 1, 1970
    This was a fascinating story based on true events that takes place in Romania towards the end of WW2 and the communist occupation in the 40's and 50's known as the Iron Curtain. Although I have been to some of the Berlin museums that detail the horrible circumstances many Germans were forced to endure in East Germany post WW2 and behind the Iron Curtain, this was the first time i have read about what happened in Romania. The author notes at the end that the story is based on her mother, having This was a fascinating story based on true events that takes place in Romania towards the end of WW2 and the communist occupation in the 40's and 50's known as the Iron Curtain. Although I have been to some of the Berlin museums that detail the horrible circumstances many Germans were forced to endure in East Germany post WW2 and behind the Iron Curtain, this was the first time i have read about what happened in Romania. The author notes at the end that the story is based on her mother, having been left behind by her Jewish parents during the holocaust in order to protect her. The descriptions of her mother's adoptive parents are described by the author as accurately portrayed in the book. The elements of survival and desperation rang loudly for me as i devoured the narrative. The powerlessness of being able to provide for and protect one's child was heartbreaking.What i most enjoyed was the historical details and the impact on the main character Natalia and her family. The author also does a nice job weaving in some romance although that piece left me a tad unfulfilled. I wanted to hear from and understand Victor a bit more.The story comes full circle, which I will leave at that to avoid spoilers. It was a beautiful way to end an incredibly tragic tale. The writing was good although there were times when I found myself wanting more dialogue development between characters and less descriptive narrative. All in all an engaging and heartfelt story that gives the reader a good idea of what it was like for people living behind the Iron Curtain and the deterioration of their quality of life.Thank you to Simon and Schuster Canada and Roxanne Veletzos for an ARC.
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  • mindful.librarian ☀️
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to the publishers for this free review copy!This story is absolutely stunning. I’m even more blown away by it due to the fact that it is a fictionalized version of the real life story of the author’s mother - a heartbreaking tale of WWII in Bucharest, Romania. This is a rare setting in historical fiction, and especially in WWII fiction - I often get burned out on the genre given that all the stories seem to run together and seem the same, but this one, I assure you, is very different. The Thanks to the publishers for this free review copy!This story is absolutely stunning. I’m even more blown away by it due to the fact that it is a fictionalized version of the real life story of the author’s mother - a heartbreaking tale of WWII in Bucharest, Romania. This is a rare setting in historical fiction, and especially in WWII fiction - I often get burned out on the genre given that all the stories seem to run together and seem the same, but this one, I assure you, is very different. The story continues into the years that Romania is under Soviet occupation behind the Iron Curtain, and details the horrors that the bourgeois class faces under this regime..If you love historical fiction and are looking for a fresh WWII story, definitely give this one a shot!
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  • The Lit Bitch
    January 1, 1970
    This book is marketed to fans of Sarah’s Key and The Lilac Girls as well as fans of WWII family sagas. I was intrigued by the subject matter as well as the time period. As many of you know, I love war time books—mysteries, romances, family dramas etc—-so this book, historically fit right in.But what stood out for me was the plot for two main characters—–Natalia and Victor split apart by time and war. I loved the idea of seeing two characters from the same region having to pick sides during a war This book is marketed to fans of Sarah’s Key and The Lilac Girls as well as fans of WWII family sagas. I was intrigued by the subject matter as well as the time period. As many of you know, I love war time books—mysteries, romances, family dramas etc—-so this book, historically fit right in.But what stood out for me was the plot for two main characters—–Natalia and Victor split apart by time and war. I loved the idea of seeing two characters from the same region having to pick sides during a war time occupation.I was interested to see how that scenario would pan out, so that’s how this book ended up on my review schedule for October.So I was expecting this book to be more in the vein of a war time romance, but I was pleasantly surprised that it involved a lot more than just romance. There is this incredible family saga going on in the story and I was fascinated by the Romanian occupation by the Germans and Soviets.I don’t know too much about Eastern Europe during WWII beyond the concentration camps, I thought this author did an outstanding job incorporating a little know period in history into her novel which completely engrossed me so much more than the romance or family saga did. The romance and family saga were interesting and enjoyable to read but the driving force for me was the Romanian history.This book is based on the life of the author’s grandmother and I couldn’t get enough of it. It was evident that this was a labor of love for the author. It was a loving, passionate story and the personal touch was evident throughout the novel.I went into this one thinking it was going to be just another war romance but what I found was an impressive and moving story of love, loss, and difficult decisions topped by a rich history of a little known perspective in WWII.I liked this one so much more than I was expecting to. For me, I can always tell when I’m reading something that’s been close to the authors heart, there’s a little hint of something extra special and this book has that. I highly recommend this one!See my full review here
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  • Telma Rocha
    January 1, 1970
    I received an ARC from the publisher via Netgalley. A young loving Jewish couple, along with their little girl are on the run for their lives. Out of true love, and certainly not neglect, the couple make the ultimate sacrifice and leave their 3 year old daughter on the door steps of an apartment building on a cold January night in 1941. They must do this to give her a chance at survival; otherwise the three of them would all die, if they remained together.Natalia, as she is later named, is I received an ARC from the publisher via Netgalley. A young loving Jewish couple, along with their little girl are on the run for their lives. Out of true love, and certainly not neglect, the couple make the ultimate sacrifice and leave their 3 year old daughter on the door steps of an apartment building on a cold January night in 1941. They must do this to give her a chance at survival; otherwise the three of them would all die, if they remained together.Natalia, as she is later named, is eventually adopted by a loving, wealthy family. The three of them form a bond so strong that not even war can come between them. But even the war takes its tolls on the wealthy, and Natalie and her adoptive parents go through many hardships, but at least they are together during these hard times. The family survive several bombings, starvation, and even escape death by a mere few hours from a deadly infection. With everything this family has endured, one thing has remained constant, and that is their love for their daughter and each other. With the truth tightly hidden away and not spoken about, can this ever so close family of three survive facing the truth of Natalia’s true parentage? It is Natalia in the end that is faced with a life changing sacrifice to pursue a life she can only dream of but in order to do so, she must leave behind all she knows to be the comfort, and security she has known most of her life.My Review: I really liked this book! I cried a lot as it is very emotional. Not only was World Word 2 such a devastating, and tragic time in history, but this story also deals with heartbreaking family issues such as giving up a loved one, and adoption. The love of a parent for a child and vice versa is really explored in this book. I grieved for Natalia’s birth parents when they had to make that difficult decision that one cold January night in 1941, and I also grieved for them throughout the book as well. But as much as I felt for the birth parents, I also feared for the adoptive parents. I felt torn between the two sets of parents constantly asking myself, who deserves her in the end? This book is a true testament that true family does not always have to be blood related.I loved so many of the characters. I fell in love with Natalia as a young girl in the orphanage, and then again later as a young, respectful, adult. I loved the way her story was told. The writer did a wonderful job of creating not just one well-loved character but many! Natalia’s mother was another favorite of mine. Her courage and strength through some of the difficult times is noteworthy. The story was well paced, and delivered in a very seamless way. I loved the voice that told the story. There was a good amount of back story to allow the reader to connect with the characters, as well as a good overall portrayal of what life was like during this war-ridden time.I was a little disappointed in the ending but that is only because I had my own hopes and ideas of how things should have turned out. I wanted to know more about Natalia’s life, and I suppose I just was not ready to have the book come to an end when it did. Putting my own hopes and ideas aside, the ending was actually perfect!Closing Thoughts: I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys an emotional drama, and historical fiction. The fact that a lot of the events in this book as well as a lot of the characters are based off of real events and people, made this book all the more interesting to read. Overall I gave this book four stars on my Goodreads rating. A well written, family love story about war, love, and hardships.
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  • Peggy
    January 1, 1970
    Historical Fictions is my favorite genre. I have read many stories about WWII and I think there can't be another angle, but there always is. This is a wonderful read taken place in Romania and based on the authors family. A very inspirational story of survival.
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  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    An ARC was provided to me for free by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.This novel takes place in Bucharest, Romania. In 1941, during a time of increasing persecution against the Jewish population and the encroachment of German soldiers into the country, a young Jewish girl is left abandoned by her fleeing parents on the steps of an apartment complex. She's taken to an orphanage and later adopted by a wealthy couple and given the name of Natalia. Natalia grows up in a An ARC was provided to me for free by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.This novel takes place in Bucharest, Romania. In 1941, during a time of increasing persecution against the Jewish population and the encroachment of German soldiers into the country, a young Jewish girl is left abandoned by her fleeing parents on the steps of an apartment complex. She's taken to an orphanage and later adopted by a wealthy couple and given the name of Natalia. Natalia grows up in a bleak time and comes to age in an even worse time, when the war is over but peace does not come to Romania. They trade German soldiers for Russian ones as Romania falls under Soviet occupation. It is a harsh and difficult life, reminding readers of the realities that followed the Second World War for many eastern European countries.I really enjoyed the first half of the novel. Romania is a certainly unique place to explore during WW2: I have not yet encountered a novel that takes place there. For all the research I've done into both World Wars, I never gave much thought to the European countries that later formed the Soviet bloc. I now wish to find more books that explore the trauma other countries experienced during this time.However, I think once the war ended in the novel and the focus shifted to Romania under Russian occupation, my interest began to dwindle. I think Veletzos did a great job showing the emotional strain of characters during WW2 and the affects of the war, but she skipped time rather quickly afterwards - sometimes entire years were skipped, and I felt jarred by the jump. I don't feel like we were given enough time to adjust to the new conditions of life or completely understand how things changed so rapidly. That may also be due to my own ignorance of Romania's history during this time, as I'm sure context would have helped greatly. Regardless, at that point, I started to skim a lot and felt like I wasn't missing much. Which is a shame, considering how much I enjoyed the novel's strong beginning. I think if you are interested in WW2 and wish to explore a country that I feel is generally overlooked in these narratives, this may be great novel for you!Blog | Twitter | Instagram
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  • Sue
    January 1, 1970
    This was a wonderful well-researched novel about an area not often discussed in current WWII fiction - Romania. Plus it is based on the author's mother and her life as the girl that was left behind. The story was not only about WWII when Romania was an ally of Germany but later in the war, they sided with the Allies so they went from being bombed by the British to being bombed by the Germans. When Russia invaded them at the end of the war, they took over control of the government and Romania This was a wonderful well-researched novel about an area not often discussed in current WWII fiction - Romania. Plus it is based on the author's mother and her life as the girl that was left behind. The story was not only about WWII when Romania was an ally of Germany but later in the war, they sided with the Allies so they went from being bombed by the British to being bombed by the Germans. When Russia invaded them at the end of the war, they took over control of the government and Romania existed as part of the USSR. The novel covered the beginning of the war as well as the bleak life of the people under Russian rule.In 1941, a young Jewish couple leaves their 3 year old daughter behind as they flea from the police. They are heartbroken to leave her behind but they feel that their lives are in imminent danger and that leaving their daughter is her only chance of survival. Natalie is found and sent to an orphanage where she is soon adopted by a loving couple who raise her in a home of love and affluence. At the end of the war when their country was controlled by the communist regime, their lives became unbearable due to the deprivation and lack of jobs and living spaces. The bottom line for both parents is what they did to help their only child survive and have a better life.This is an intense novel written with love and care by the author in honor of her mother. It's a debut and I look forward to her future books.Thanks the publisher for a copy of this book to read and review. All opinions are my own.
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  • Donna
    January 1, 1970
    This is WWII Historical Fiction set in Romania. I liked the Romanian angle. The story is about a little girl who gets left behind as her parents escape to Switzerland. She ends up in an orphanage and gets adopted by wonderful parents. This was mostly 3 star worthy for me. The story rolled along nicely, but I felt like the characters could have used more light and more shadow. Maybe more emotion. I wanted to feel their torment, not just read about it. The ending was unrealistic and it was also This is WWII Historical Fiction set in Romania. I liked the Romanian angle. The story is about a little girl who gets left behind as her parents escape to Switzerland. She ends up in an orphanage and gets adopted by wonderful parents. This was mostly 3 star worthy for me. The story rolled along nicely, but I felt like the characters could have used more light and more shadow. Maybe more emotion. I wanted to feel their torment, not just read about it. The ending was unrealistic and it was also overly sweet. I know many readers have a sweet tooth for that but I guess I don't row that boat. So 3 stars.
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  • Tina Woodbury
    January 1, 1970
    Wow! I adore this beautifully written story!A little girl is found late one night – she is frightened, cold, and alone. A carrying woman finds her, wraps her arms around here, and carries her to safety. This little girl’s name is Natalia and this is her story.Anton and Despina Goza have tried for years to have children with no success. Through a cousin’s encouragement they make the drive to an orphanage and that is where they meet Natalia. She is the light of their lives and they will do Wow! I adore this beautifully written story!A little girl is found late one night – she is frightened, cold, and alone. A carrying woman finds her, wraps her arms around here, and carries her to safety. This little girl’s name is Natalia and this is her story.Anton and Despina Goza have tried for years to have children with no success. Through a cousin’s encouragement they make the drive to an orphanage and that is where they meet Natalia. She is the light of their lives and they will do anything for her.While it is true that this is Natalia’s story it is so much more! It is also an eye-opening glimpse of not only the hardship and frightening time during war, but also post-war. Once the war was over things did not just bounce back to the way they were before. People lost everything and worked very hard, every day just to survive. Natalia’s family was no exception. I admired their incredible determination, strength, and perseverance. Through the good times and bad times one thing always held true – they loved each other and would do whatever it took to keep their family afloat.This book is based on a true story. Be sure to read “The REAL Girl Left Behind” at the end of the book for fact vs. fiction to find out what was real and what was embellished. There are also several photos at the end for you to give faces to the names of some of the characters.This is an incredibly heart-warming story! I was completely immersed and could hardly pull myself away from it. It will no doubt be in my top ten books of the year!*Thank you NetGalley, Atria Book, and Roxanne Veletzos for the opportunity to read and review this book for my honest opinion.
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  • Reeca Elliott
    January 1, 1970
    During WWII, Natalia is left at an orphanage when she is just a small child. She is adopted by an amazing set of parents. They truly want the best for her. When the Iron Curtain fell on Bucharest, their whole lives changed for the worst.There is so much packed into this read. With the daily struggles just to survive, it is hard to read in places. Natalia is a talented pianist, but she ends up working in a warehouse just to support herself and her parents. Her parents lost everything during the During WWII, Natalia is left at an orphanage when she is just a small child. She is adopted by an amazing set of parents. They truly want the best for her. When the Iron Curtain fell on Bucharest, their whole lives changed for the worst.
There is so much packed into this read. With the daily struggles just to survive, it is hard to read in places. Natalia is a talented pianist, but she ends up working in a warehouse just to support herself and her parents. Her parents lost everything during the Russian occupation. Their home, their business, their dignity, is all gone!
Victor is a rising star under the communist rule. He became a friend of this family back when he was a starving student. This friendship is Natalia's saving grace in more ways than one. She is in love with Victor. And he loves her enough to set her free!
I fluctuated between 4 and 5 stars while I was reading this book. But the ending rolled it on up to 5. Talk about emotional whirlwind. I am not much of a cryer during books...but this one ALMOST succeeded in making me cry. Any author who can achieve that deserves 5 stars! And to know...it is based on the author's family. Superbly done!
I received this novel from Atria Books via Netgalley.
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  • Cheryl
    January 1, 1970
    This book is a perfect example of how real life experience can enhance a story. This book is kind of modeled off of the author's real life. Thus you could feel the labor of love by reading this book. The characters came alive as did the story. Natalia was a strong woman. Which I imagined was not an easy thing to come by during that time period. Yet, on the other hand, I can see a lot of women showing strength in adversity. I have read a lot of books during the WWI and WWII era. I am a fan of This book is a perfect example of how real life experience can enhance a story. This book is kind of modeled off of the author's real life. Thus you could feel the labor of love by reading this book. The characters came alive as did the story. Natalia was a strong woman. Which I imagined was not an easy thing to come by during that time period. Yet, on the other hand, I can see a lot of women showing strength in adversity. I have read a lot of books during the WWI and WWII era. I am a fan of these types of books. Instantly, from the beginning, I felt like I was in Romania. Victor was another shining light in this book. His and Natalia's relationship was true. He risked a lot to help save her. While, the focal point of this book may have been on Natalia and Victor; the other characters were not muted or downplayed in roles. The story really picks up in the last half of the book. If you are a fan of historical fiction, memoirs, WWI, WWII, or on the look out for a wonderful book to read; you need to pick up a copy of this book.
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