The Girl They Left Behind

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 alli...

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Title:The Girl They Left Behind
Author:Roxanne Veletzos
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Girl They Left Behind Reviews

  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

    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. R

    ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

    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:

  • Marialyce

    4.5 valiant stars

    My reviews can be seen here:

    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 persec

    4.5 valiant stars

    My reviews can be seen here:

    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.

  • Norma * Traveling Sister

    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:

  • Zoe

    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.

  • Kate Quinn

    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 oppress

    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."

  • Lindsay - Traveling Sister

    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:

    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!

  • Brenda

    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,

    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.

  • Erin

    Based on true events of the author's mother,

    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,

    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!

  • Brenda - Traveling Sister

    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 surroun

    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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