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.
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 anything for her.
While it is true that this is Natalia’s story it is so much more! It is also an eye-opening glimpse of not only the hardship and frightening time during war, but also post-war. Once the war was over things did not just bounce back to the way they were before. People lost everything and worked very hard, every day just to survive. Natalia’s family was no exception. I admired their incredible determination, strength, and perseverance. Through the good times and bad times one thing always held true – they loved each other and would do whatever it took to keep their family afloat.
This book is based on a true story. Be sure to read “The REAL Girl Left Behind” at the end of the book for fact vs. fiction to find out what was real and what was embellished. There are also several photos at the end for you to give faces to the names of some of the characters.
This is an incredibly heart-warming story! I was completely immersed and could hardly pull myself away from it. It will no doubt be in my top ten books of the year!
*Thank you NetGalley, Atria Book, and Roxanne Veletzos for the opportunity to read and review this book for my honest opinion.
My Rating: 5/5
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: 10/9/2018
Pages: 368 (eBook)
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