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The Girl They Left Behind

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  8,909 ratings  ·  937 reviews
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
Hardcover, 353 pages
Published October 9th 2018 by Atria Books
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Dena I saw the author speak at a book store earlier this year. Young Natalia, Anton and Despina are her mother and grandparents. The story follows her fami…moreI saw the author speak at a book store earlier this year. Young Natalia, Anton and Despina are her mother and grandparents. The story follows her family history up until her romance with Victor. At that point, it's not what she called "her mother's story" at that point where Victor comes back into play when Natalia is about 20.(less)

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Average rating 4.08  · 
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 ·  8,909 ratings  ·  937 reviews

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Nov 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 h
Lindsay - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews
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.

Oct 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: net-galley
4.5 valiant stars
My 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 persec
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
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 Natal
Dorie  - Cats&Books :)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Brenda - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews
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
Oct 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, kindle
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
Kate Quinn
Aug 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
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
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
Oct 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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,
3.5 stars: “The Girl They Left Behind” by Roxanne Veletzos is a story of the political history of Romania from 1941 to 1960, told from a Romanian’s family’s point-of-view. It begins with a Jewish couple in Romania when Germany is in control. In January of 1941 there was a Nazi Pogrom in which the Jewish people of Romania were rounded up and slaughtered. Veletzos uses this event as the starting point of a young Jewish couple leaving their toddler on a doorstep of a home in hopes that the child wi ...more
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 generation.
Nov 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 ba ...more
Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews
Feb 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-books
4.5 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 sa
Oct 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: physical-arcs

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
Sep 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
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
Denisa Arsene
Feb 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
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 th
Laurie • The Baking Bookworm
Oct 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: ehbooklover, margaret, booksandchinooks
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.

Apr 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
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 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
mindful.librarian ☀️
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
Sep 30, 2018 rated it liked it
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
Fran Hawthorne
Oct 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
When your family history is as dramatic and mysterious as that of Roxanne Veletzos, it’s understandable that you might want to fill in the gaps with some invented history that's just as dramatic. Unfortunately, Veletzos stumbled over the line between drama and melodrama in her debut novel, “The Girl They Left Behind.”

Here’s the true part: When Veletzos’s mother was a little girl, she was left in a doorway in Bucharest, Romania, in 1941 by Jewish parents who hoped that a kindly stranger would tak
Dec 03, 2019 rated it liked it
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 ov
The Lit Bitch
Oct 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Telma Rocha
Jul 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
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 event
Dec 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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.
Oct 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 exi ...more
Tina Woodbury
Nov 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 anythin
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You'll love this ...: November 2019 - The Girl They Left Behind 33 30 Nov 20, 2019 07:02PM  
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Roxanne Veletzos was born in Bucharest, Romania. As a young teen, she moved to California where she began writing short stories about her native Eastern Europe, at first as a cathartic experience transitioning to a new culture. Building on her love of the written language, she obtained a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has worked as an editor, content writer and marketing manager for a number ...more

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“War is war,” she had told Natalia once. “It transforms human beings in unimaginable ways. But they are still human beings.” 1 likes
“Knowledge is power, the only power that can set you free.” 1 likes
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