I finished The Girl They Left Behind last weekend and I’m still thinking about it. Set in WWII, this novel tells the story of a young Romanian girl who is left on a door step alone in the night as Jews are being massacred across Bucharest. Adopted by a wealthy middle-class family, Natalia is raised by a loving family, but she often wonders why she was left alone by her biological parents. Anton and Despina are loving parents, but they face many trials after the war. Romania switches its allegiance to the Allies after being run by the Nazis for the majority of the war. It seems like life will get better after the Allied victory until the iron curtain falls on Romania. At that point, the communist chip away at all that Anton built from scratch rising from a penniless orphan until he was the owner of a chain of stationary stores. Slowly all is taken away from him, including his purpose and his dignity. The family struggles to survive. Will Natalia ever find out what happened to her biological parents? What has happened to Victor, the young man Anton helped in his out when he was struggling?
I really enjoyed at the end of the novel that the author had based this entire novel on her mother’s experience being abandoned and adopted during the execution of Jews during WWII in Bucharest. The author spent her childhood growing up in Bucharest before the family moved to the United States. She lovingly wrote of Bucharest and provided background history on events. I looked up even more as I was reading the novel as I know little to nothing about Romania and its involvement in WWII. It was fascinating to learn this part of history that was new to me.
This really has had me thinking about communism as well. It seems strange to me to take someone who is a productive member of society and leave them with nothing to do once you’ve stripped them of their status and ability to work. It also seems like wealth was just redistributed to other people.
I enjoyed the story and read this book relatively quickly. I loved reading about Natalia and her family’s trials and tribulations. I with there would have been more at the start of the novel about her biological parents and their journey. The romance also fell very flat for me in this book. I just wanted to read about Natalia and her family as that was the true love story of the novel.
“For an instant, he recognized it, that same shred of hope that had risen above all else in his own wretched heart, a trace of resignation in the path that left no other options open.”
“You made my life truly beautiful.”
Overall, The Girl They Left Behind is a fascinating look into WWII and its aftermath in Romania and how it impacted one family.
Book Source: Review Copy for being a part of the TLC Book Tour. For more stops on the tour, check out this link.
One lucky winner has a chance to win a copy of The Girl They Left Behind by Roxanne Veletzos . If you would like to win this book, please leave a comment on what interests you about this book. What is your favorite WWII book? Have you ever visited Romania or read any books on Romania?
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The deadline for entry is midnight on Friday November 9th!
Please make sure to check the week of November 12th to see if you are a winner. I send emails to the winner, but lately I've been put in their "junk mail" folder instead of their inbox.