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The Girl They Left Behind

Written by: Roxanne Veletzos
Narrated by: Cassandra Campbell
Length: 10 hrs and 57 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (21 ratings)
Price: CDN$ 28.41
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Publisher's Summary

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 20s 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. 

©2018 Roxanne Veletzos (P)2018 Simon & Schuster

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • sue
  • 2019-03-04

A bit slow

The story, based on historical truth, was good but it did drag a bit. No surprises. Believable

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  • Vicki
  • 2018-11-18

Worthy of Ten ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Haunting story and narration. Such depth in the main characters...I felt an incredible attachment and empathy for them.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Andreea
  • 2019-01-23

I cried and cried...

As a Romanian, I was curious about this story, especially since it dealt with a period so difficult in the history of my country. I did not regret a second adding this title to my audiobook list. More than that, and in all sincerity, I do not recall a book that has made me cry so much throughout the reading. The emotion of having the people - grandparents, great-great parents, now lost forever - come back once again to life... priceless. So many emotions I have felt, so many people lost in the brutal machine of the history I knew... so many destinies changed without compassion.

As someone who currently lives in Bucharest, I imagined the map described by the author in the book, and what a journey it has been! Almost all the places in the book have suffered along the years alterations that have mutilated the beauty of the city and I have no words to describe the regret I feel that my Bucharest has lost that elegance that it once held. Except for a couple of times, the narrator pronounced the titles and names of the places correctly, I know it is not an easy language, especially for someone foreign.

My favourite characters were indubitably Anton and Despina, I've "seen" them along the years in the city - I must say that fewer and fewer are left nowadays -, so quiet, so dignified, even in their walk. As far as the story is concerned, I wish, wish, wish that they had reunited (in fiction) with their daughter for a complete forever after. I know what it feels like to be away from parents, from the loved ones. I must say I did not care much about the love story with Victor - he was still part of a hideous regime -, but I totally understand the idea behind it.

I am grateful also to Roxanne V. for her approach of a theme that has so rarely been seen in print: the selling of the Jewish people by the Romanian Communist State. It is a shame what happened! Bravo, Roxanne V.!

All in all, The Girl They Left behind will remain in my heart for a long time and I hope to read more books from this author. Thank you!

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • TeresaAnn Elizabeth
  • 2018-12-04

Different WWII Story

This book set in WWII and right afterwards, is not like any I’ve read before. It was sad and depressing finding out how life became for those who lived under the Communist Regime once the War itself had ended. The bleakness described, however, does not lead to a conclusion of no hope, thankfully.
Overall, I recommend it.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Jeannie
  • 2019-01-30

Yes, you should pick this book

compelling story, vivid scenes, rich characters and the narration is beautiful. Yes. A thousand times, Yes.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • towergrl
  • 2018-11-20

Romania’s heartbreak

Simply outstanding! I could not stop listening to this poignant, heartbreaking, and courageous tale of many. Truly beautiful in its angst and the hard truths that the world needs to know. This novel is a gift to anyone who reads it, a gift!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Pamela
  • 2019-01-14

What an amazing story.

Always waiting for what happened next. I truly loved this story and the way it was written.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Goddess Being
  • 2018-10-28

Based on a true story..inspiring and courageous

It took a while to get into this and I found the accents a bit difficult but the story was very inspiring. At the end I cried as it was so moving..The writting is wonderful makes one feel as if they are there. Great Book!

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Henwhisperer
  • 2019-03-17

Overly melodramaic

Not sure what to say about this. On a positive note, no swearing, no graphic sex, no homosexuality. I give it 10 stars for the lack of those three things.

The story line should have been excellent but over time the author tends to repeat bits of the story as if she'd run out of things to write about. And now, rounding the last turn, it is just so overly dramatic.

Cassandra Campbell is one of my favorite readers and she does a fairly good job with the Romanian accents.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2019-03-17

Loved, learned, saddened, and amazed

Loved, learned, saddened, and amazed by by this fantastic book.... I recommend highly, expect to love it, especially if you loved " The Light You Zaza Cannot See (?), another favorite of mine.

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  • Sandra Partlow
  • 2019-03-09

Excellent Story

I could not stop listening to this book! Sad and yet intriguing. The narrator was very good and that made the listening even more interesting,