Hardcover: 368 Pages
Publisher: Atria Books (October 9, 2018)
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.
About Roxanne Veletzos
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
This book tugged at my heart strings. The very beginning of the story sets the pace for a beautifully told tale of endurance and perseverance and above all courage.
Natalia is left at a very young age, on the doorstep of an apartment building, she is hungry, she is scared and she is freezing cold. She can't fathom why her parents would leave her there, but unfortunately this is 1941 and as a Jewish young girl, her best shot at surviving the horrid situation they find themselves in, is for her to be taken in by someone who is not Jewish and therefore not in as much danger.
Her name is not even Natalia, but that is the name given to her by her adoptive family, a couple with no children of their own and quite well off.
As Natalia grows up, small snippets of her past life start peeking through, and she can no longer ignore the nagging feeling that there is so much more to her past and her childhood.
It all comes to a halt when she is forced to make the decision of either following her heart and figuring out who she really is, and where she comes from, or staying behind with the family she has come to love and the man she is in love with, Victor.
If you enjoy WWII history, or are at all interested or fascinated by the Jewish persecution during those times, this is a MUST read and definitely needs to be added to your reading pile.
It is not an easy, light read, but it is absolutely fascinating and is based on the author's own family life. As a huge fan of history and personal stories, this book has become one of my favorites and I'm ever so grateful for the chance to review it.
The book publisher has graciously offered a copy to a lucky winner. The contest is open to US and Canada.
All I need from you is a comment down below, please make sure I have a way of contacting you if you are picked as a winner.
I would love to know from you, if you are a fan of the history genre of books or personal memoirs????