Friday, November 2, 2018

Book Review and Giveaway - The Girl They Left Behind by Roxanne Veletzos

Book Synopsis
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.


 

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

 

My Review

The Girl They Left Behind tells the story of a little Jewish girl left behind in Bucharest, Romania, when her parents fled the violence and anti-semitism of the city in 1941.  The little girl, Natalia, is placed in an orphanage and adopted by a loving couple named Despina and Anton.  


Things change for the family when Romania falls into Soviet occupation.  Natalia eventually ends up working with a family friend, Victor, whom she falls in love with.  Change comes again as she makes the decision to escape or stay with Victor and her parents.


I love historical fiction and found this novel so compelling.  It is based on the true life story of the author's mother, and that made the book even more interesting for me.


I knew very little about Romania and life under Soviet rule after World War II, so I felt I learned a lot of historical details in this novel.


The story is lovingly told with beautiful descriptions of the city, the family, and most of all Natalia.  The characterizations are well developed.  I cared about Natalia, what happened to her, and I really liked her parents as well.


An example of the lovely storytelling in this book comes when Natalia and her mother find some cherry trees and pick cherries to bake a tart for Anton's fiftieth birthday:


"In an instant, Natalia caught up and looped her arm tightly through her mother's.  She rested her head on her shoulder, and they walked like that for a while, lost in their thoughts, passing the dancing shadows on the sidewalk to the next street, where more cherries lay scattered on the ground, ready for picking.  The summer sky embraced them, so blue, the color of hope.  It wasn't much, but it was enough to make her feel thankful.  Thankful, indeed, that she still had her family and that at the very least, her family would enjoy some splendid pastries" (p. 243).


The Girl They Left Behind is such a unique and moving book.  I highly recommend it to other fans of historical fiction.

Author Bio

Roxanne Veletzos was born in Bucharest, Romania and moved to California with her family as a young teen. Already fluent in English and French, she began writing short stories about growing up in her native Eastern Europe, at first as a cathartic experience as she transitioned to a new culture, then simply to pursue what had become an unrelenting passion. She has worked as an editor, content writer, and marketing manager for a number of Fortune 500 companies and has been writing fiction since 2012. Her first novel, THE GIRL THEY LEFT BEHIND, is based on her family’s true story.

 

Connect with Roxanne

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

 

Giveaway

One lucky reader will win a copy of The Girl They Left  Behind.   This giveaway is open to readers in the U.S. and Canada.  The giveaway will end at midnight on November 9.  Winner will be notified by email and needs to respond within 48 hours or another name will be drawn.  The author or her publicist will mail the book to the winner.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received a copy of this book from TLC Book Tours.

12 comments:

Barbara Lima said...

I enjoy reading about WWII.

Roxanne Veletzos said...

Thank you for these lovely words and for recommending this book to other historical fiction fans. I really enjoyed this review!

Deborah Wellenstein said...

I very much want to read The Girl They Left Behind. Thanks for the chance!

Faith Creech said...

I would love to read this book. It looks so good. Also love the cover. Thanks for the chance to win the giveaway

Becky Richardson said...

This sounds wonderful. I love historical fiction.

Debbie E said...

After reading your review I definitely will put this one on my list to read. I know very little about Romania and WWII era and would love to read about it.

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

Thanks for being on the tour!

Jeanna Johnson said...

This sounds like a good read!

Abigail Gibson said...

I look forward to reading this wonderful book.

Jana Leah B said...

This is a fascinating time period & I don't think I've read any books set in Romania before.

Darlene said...

I love period books.

Laura Lee said...

I love reading books set in their era.