Review: The Girl They Left Behind by Roxanne Veletzos
Based on true events, The Girl They Left Behind is a novel that will break your heart as it tells the story of the much-loved little Jewish girl who is left behind when her parents flee Romania--and certain death--during the Second World War. Adopted by a wealthy childless couple, Natalia wants for nothing. But war is closing in. First Romania will find itself bombed by the Allies and then, when it finds itself under Soviet rule, they are bombed again, this time by the Germans. And following the war, they find themselves in the Soviet Bloc, a place which is neither kind, nor welcoming to people like Natalia's parents. Over time, their circumstances become more and more bleak until Victor, a well-connected friend of the family, makes Natalia a surprising offer ...
As I alluded to in my opening sentence, this novel did indeed break my heart. It is difficult not to feel for Natalia, Despina and Anton as their circumstances become more and more bleak. (These are, essentially, good people who have everything they have worked hard for taken from them, bit-by-bit to satisfy a corrupt regime.) There are moments of hope, though. And simmering away in the background is the story of Natalia's biological parents, also good people, though I cannot offer any more information than that lest I start giving away plot spoilers.
The prose was so engaging that every time I picked the book up, I found myself reading for longer than I intended.
Highly, highly recommended.
Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia for my ARC of The Girl They Left Behind.