The Girl They Left Behind Roxanne Veletzos from Atria Books  // Simon & Schuster A sweeping family saga and love story that offers a viv...

Top 5 Ways Fact Meets Fiction in The Girl They Left Behind by Roxanne Veletzos + Giveaway (US only)

The Girl They Left Behind
Roxanne Veletzos
from Atria Books // Simon & Schuster

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.

Ways in Which Fact Meets Fiction in The Girl They Left Behind

  1. They often say, �write what you know,� and for me, this became a mantra while crafting this novel. Growing up in California, many childhood recollections of my native Bucharest in the years before the fall of the Wall had become faded; yet I felt it was important to depict what it was like to live in that time not just from research but a personal perspective. The streets sunk in darkness, the overcrowded trolleys, the half-empty shelves in grocery stores�they are all drawn from memory. Even my grandparents� home which they were forced to share with other families is exactly as I recall it�a grand Edwardian flat stripped of its former splendor by years of neglect. Then there are the Cismigiu Gardens where as a child I spent many afternoons. It is a happy memory and perhaps the reason why I chose it as the setting for Natalia, Anton and Despina�s first encounter as a family.
  2. Readers often ask me why in the novel I�ve chosen to change my mother�s name while keeping those of the other main characters, and my answer is this: As a protagonist, I needed Natalia to have an identity of her own, to see her in my mind�s eye as someone who wasn�t entirely my mother. This was especially true in the third part of the book, when Natalia�s journey as a young woman departs from reality. (Plus, it would have been impossible to write all those love scenes with her in mind!) Young Natalia, however, does resemble my mother closely, as her early experiences and abandonment on the eve of war seeded this novel.
  3. The young, starving student who later rises to power and saves the Gozas from numerous misfortunes, is also drawn from reality. His role in my grandparents� lives when they suffered extreme persecution is almost unaltered. However, the love affair so pivotal to this plot was crafted from my imagination. In fact, it came to me rather late in the first draft and drove the unexpected conclusion!
  4. When the novel opens in January 1941, as Romania is caught in a terrible wave of antisemitic violence, Natalia is three-and-a-half years old�two years older than my mother was on the night of her abandonment. This was a deliberate change, as I needed Natalia�s voice to come in on the very first page, to establish an immediate, emotional connection with the reader. My mother in reality, remembers nothing of that night, nor much about her time at the orphanage.
  5. Originally, the book�s ending followed a path closer to real life. It was only after it had gone through several revisions and I began working with my editor at Atria, that I changed direction. Without giving away any spoilers, I will say that it was a very emotional experience to re-write it this way, and that I still tear up reading those final pages. In the end, I believe it enriched the novel a great deal, and I couldn�t be happier with the outcome.

About the Author

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.


Books � la Mode is giving away one print copy of The Girl They Left Behind�yay!!

To enter, all you have to do is answer Roxanne's question in the comments below:
What country or city in Europe do you wish you could read more about? What time period in that culture would be most interesting to you?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Roxanne and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

I feel like so many books about Europe published in America are only about Anglican or "westernized" countries when there is so much more to offer. Don't get me wrong, I love British, French, Spanish, etc. literature, but you have to admit there is a lot of it. I'd love a mainstream novel about Prague or perhaps some Nordic countries.

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the tour publicist and publisher�a huge thank you to the lovely folks at TLC Book Tours and Atria Books!
Giveaway ends November 4th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US residents only�sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for a list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ?
Good luck!

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