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:

The Girl They Left Behind Reviews

  • Amy

    4.5/5

    One 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 alwa

    4.5/5

    One 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.

  • 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:

  • Laurie • The Baking Bookworm

    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.

    Veletzo

    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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Bev Walkling

    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 generati

    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.

  • 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."

  • Bookworm

    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 b

    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.

  • 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!

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