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Bending Toward the Sun: A Mother and Daughter Memoir

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A miraculous lesson in courage and recovery, Bending Toward the Sun tells the story of a unique family bond forged in the wake of brutal terror. Weaving together the voices of three generations of women, Leslie Gilbert-Lurie and her mother, Rita Lurie, provide powerful — and inspiring — evidence of the resilience of the human spirit, relevant to every culture in every corn A miraculous lesson in courage and recovery, Bending Toward the Sun tells the story of a unique family bond forged in the wake of brutal terror. Weaving together the voices of three generations of women, Leslie Gilbert-Lurie and her mother, Rita Lurie, provide powerful — and inspiring — evidence of the resilience of the human spirit, relevant to every culture in every corner of the world. By turns unimaginably devastating and incredibly uplifting, this firsthand account of survival and psychological healing offers a strong, poignant message of hope in our own uncertain times. Rita Lurie was five years old when she was forced to flee her home in Poland to hide from the Nazis. From the summer of 1942 to mid-1944, she and fourteen members of her family shared a nearly silent existence in a cramped, dark attic, subsisting on scraps of raw food. Young Rita watched helplessly as first her younger brother then her mother died before her eyes. Motherless and stateless, Rita and her surviving family spent the next five years wandering throughout Europe, waiting for a country to accept them. The tragedy of the Holocaust was only the beginning of Rita's story. Decades later, Rita, now a mother herself, is the matriarch of a close-knit family in California. Yet in addition to love, Rita unknowingly passes to her children feelings of fear, apprehension, and guilt. Her daughter Leslie, an accomplished lawyer, media executive, and philanthropist, began probing the traumatic events of her mother's childhood to discover how Rita's pain has affected not only Leslie's life and outlook but also her own daughter, Mikaela's. A decade-long collaboration between mother and daughter, Bending Toward the Sun reveals how deeply the Holocaust remains in the hearts and minds of survivors, influencing even the lives of their descendants. It also sheds light on the generational reach of any trauma, beyond the initial victim. Drawing on interviews with the other survivors and with the Polish family who hid five-year-old Rita, this book brings together the stories of three generations of women — mother, daughter, and granddaughter — to understand the legacy that unites, inspires, and haunts them all.


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A miraculous lesson in courage and recovery, Bending Toward the Sun tells the story of a unique family bond forged in the wake of brutal terror. Weaving together the voices of three generations of women, Leslie Gilbert-Lurie and her mother, Rita Lurie, provide powerful — and inspiring — evidence of the resilience of the human spirit, relevant to every culture in every corn A miraculous lesson in courage and recovery, Bending Toward the Sun tells the story of a unique family bond forged in the wake of brutal terror. Weaving together the voices of three generations of women, Leslie Gilbert-Lurie and her mother, Rita Lurie, provide powerful — and inspiring — evidence of the resilience of the human spirit, relevant to every culture in every corner of the world. By turns unimaginably devastating and incredibly uplifting, this firsthand account of survival and psychological healing offers a strong, poignant message of hope in our own uncertain times. Rita Lurie was five years old when she was forced to flee her home in Poland to hide from the Nazis. From the summer of 1942 to mid-1944, she and fourteen members of her family shared a nearly silent existence in a cramped, dark attic, subsisting on scraps of raw food. Young Rita watched helplessly as first her younger brother then her mother died before her eyes. Motherless and stateless, Rita and her surviving family spent the next five years wandering throughout Europe, waiting for a country to accept them. The tragedy of the Holocaust was only the beginning of Rita's story. Decades later, Rita, now a mother herself, is the matriarch of a close-knit family in California. Yet in addition to love, Rita unknowingly passes to her children feelings of fear, apprehension, and guilt. Her daughter Leslie, an accomplished lawyer, media executive, and philanthropist, began probing the traumatic events of her mother's childhood to discover how Rita's pain has affected not only Leslie's life and outlook but also her own daughter, Mikaela's. A decade-long collaboration between mother and daughter, Bending Toward the Sun reveals how deeply the Holocaust remains in the hearts and minds of survivors, influencing even the lives of their descendants. It also sheds light on the generational reach of any trauma, beyond the initial victim. Drawing on interviews with the other survivors and with the Polish family who hid five-year-old Rita, this book brings together the stories of three generations of women — mother, daughter, and granddaughter — to understand the legacy that unites, inspires, and haunts them all.

30 review for Bending Toward the Sun: A Mother and Daughter Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    JG (Introverted Reader)

    Rita Lurie is a Holocaust survivor. Her story is remarkably similar to Anne Frank's. She hid in an attic in Poland for two years at the very end of WWII. Her family's hiding place was nowhere near as carefully-planned as the Frank family's though. They fled Nazi soldiers in the night and eventually found a family friend who let them stay with him. Imagine 15 people, including children and a baby, hiding in an attic for two years with no food supply mapped out. The children couldn't run around a Rita Lurie is a Holocaust survivor. Her story is remarkably similar to Anne Frank's. She hid in an attic in Poland for two years at the very end of WWII. Her family's hiding place was nowhere near as carefully-planned as the Frank family's though. They fled Nazi soldiers in the night and eventually found a family friend who let them stay with him. Imagine 15 people, including children and a baby, hiding in an attic for two years with no food supply mapped out. The children couldn't run around a make noise and be children. They had no heat source. They didn't even have much light. They lived on what the men could forage at night. Needless to say, they were very sick and malnourished when they finally emerged. Rita was five when they went into hiding, but the experience left a deep and lasting mark on her psyche. Now, where this memoir is different from others that I've read is that it doesn't stop with Liberation. That's only the beginning, in fact. How does such a horrific experience mark your life forever after? Also, how does it mark your children and their children? It's not like you come out of hiding and return to a perfectly normal life. I have to say that the first time I ever thought about these questions was when I read The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman. Spiegelman shows that his father was hard to live with, and sometimes it was because of his experiences as a Holocaust survivor. He's a hoarder and a control freak. Spiegelman's mom, also a survivor, was clinically depressed. That opened my eyes a little bit. So when I was offered this book for review, I jumped on it. I was surprised by the ways that the Holocaust affected this family's life. Rita was a little fearful to let her children out of her sight. Her children picked up on that, as children do, and became overly fearful as well. It's even carrying on to the next generation. There are also the cycles of depression. I had to admire Rita, because she is a fighter, but it seemed almost inevitable that the depression would come around for her again. She tries so hard, but how do you overcome something like the Holocaust? And how does your family react when you spiral down? If, like me, you're interested in the Holocaust but hadn't really thought about the lasting effects in the survivors' lives, pick this up. It was very readable and very thought-provoking.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Powell

    This was more than just another story about surviving the Holocaust in that it dwelt a majority of the time on the life after coming to America and how it impacts their relationships with their family and friends as survivors and how the trauma of it gets passed down to future generations. Told from 3 generations perspective, Rita is a survivor, and she is deeply codependent on her daughter as a result. And her granddaughter suffers from the same insecurities and fears as a result. The first hal This was more than just another story about surviving the Holocaust in that it dwelt a majority of the time on the life after coming to America and how it impacts their relationships with their family and friends as survivors and how the trauma of it gets passed down to future generations. Told from 3 generations perspective, Rita is a survivor, and she is deeply codependent on her daughter as a result. And her granddaughter suffers from the same insecurities and fears as a result. The first half of the book was much more interesting and informative, while the second half kind of dragged on and at one point I was ready for it to be over. In this re release, there is a chapter at the end that talks about how her life in the attic during the hologram is in a lot of ways like the current pandemic of the world and how she is coping with that while living in a nursing home and I found that quite interesting. Thanks to netgalley for this audiobook arc in exchange for my review.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sally Wessely

    Rita Lurie is an amazing woman, and so is her daughter. I am grateful that they shared their stories and their histories with all of us. This is more than just another memoir or story about the Holocaust because it gives understanding to the affect the Holocaust has had on future generations. Leslie Gilbert-lurie gave me great insight when she included the definition of holocaust in her prologue to the book. The analogy to the trial by by fire that so many went through is summed up beautifully wh Rita Lurie is an amazing woman, and so is her daughter. I am grateful that they shared their stories and their histories with all of us. This is more than just another memoir or story about the Holocaust because it gives understanding to the affect the Holocaust has had on future generations. Leslie Gilbert-lurie gave me great insight when she included the definition of holocaust in her prologue to the book. The analogy to the trial by by fire that so many went through is summed up beautifully when she says: The fire of hate that the Nazis lit did not consume everything...Their genes had been affected by the intensity of the heat, but grow they did, and thrive they would, as my mother would put it, "bending toward the sun.". I am married to a wonderful man who was born to survivors of the Holocaust. This book confirmed that his is a shared experience found in many children whose parents went the life altering, traumatic experience suffered by those who survived a fire that meant to destroy them and their entire race.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jude

    Liked the first part a lot because I learned more about the Holocaust. Especially liked the true to life depiction of the family that hid the Jews. The section about the transference of something akin to PTSD to the next generation of Holocaust survivors even though they are raised in a peaceful environment was interesting for the first 30 percent. Then it seemed to degrade into navel-gazing and flimsy theories of trait inheritance. The second generation Holocaust survivors in this family are int Liked the first part a lot because I learned more about the Holocaust. Especially liked the true to life depiction of the family that hid the Jews. The section about the transference of something akin to PTSD to the next generation of Holocaust survivors even though they are raised in a peaceful environment was interesting for the first 30 percent. Then it seemed to degrade into navel-gazing and flimsy theories of trait inheritance. The second generation Holocaust survivors in this family are interesting but I believe the author fails to support her theory of the inheritance of a fragile personality and she drags us along on her failed quest. Not a waste of time but the author fails to support her theory.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    I enjoyed the first half of the book more than the second half. It was an interesting story about a Holocaust survivor and how it affected her life and her children's lives forever. I felt like the 2nd half/the daughter's portion of the memoir started to drag out and got long. Near the end I just wanted to finish. I enjoyed the first half of the book more than the second half. It was an interesting story about a Holocaust survivor and how it affected her life and her children's lives forever. I felt like the 2nd half/the daughter's portion of the memoir started to drag out and got long. Near the end I just wanted to finish.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jason Staker

    I will give this three stars because Rita's story about her childhood in the Holocaust is tragic, moving, and delivered in a very matter-of-fact fashion that seems to amplify the horror of it. The first third of the book, delivered in Rita's words, were my favorite. The rest of the book, about Leslie's life and growing up as what I can best describe as a wildly codependent, neurotic brat, was less powerful. I mean, it had power in that I routinely found myself thinking, "Don't blame your needine I will give this three stars because Rita's story about her childhood in the Holocaust is tragic, moving, and delivered in a very matter-of-fact fashion that seems to amplify the horror of it. The first third of the book, delivered in Rita's words, were my favorite. The rest of the book, about Leslie's life and growing up as what I can best describe as a wildly codependent, neurotic brat, was less powerful. I mean, it had power in that I routinely found myself thinking, "Don't blame your neediness on the Holocaust." Perhaps that's too harsh. I have no doubt that children of Holocaust survivors take on all kinds of issues because of who is raising them. But, what I saw described of Leslie seemed more like a super annoying pre-teen. Perhaps the link between the Holocaust and her attitude needed a stronger link. Maybe she didn't articulate it properly. I was probably more apt to buy into her argument if at times she didn't show a conscious manipulation of her mother for her own means. The one that stands out is when she wanted to come home from some camp and she said she knew what to say to her mother to convince her to come get her in the middle of the night - just hours before the end of the camp. It came off as unbelievably selfish and manipulative. I felt bad for the parents, not because of the trauma in their past, but because they had a child who was using it to her own ends. Leslie's argument would be strengthened if we actually saw that the other children had the same issues. It seems throughout the book that they were the opposite of Leslie. They weren't as clingy, or needy, or neurotic. It is only in the final chapter of the book she briefly mentions each sibling having felt some impact of their mother's depression. It was kind of a too little, too late situation.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Bending Toward the Sun is a heart-wrenching, emotional memoir. Leslie Gilbert-Lurie with the help of her mother, Rita Lurie, shares their story of surviving through hell and back. When Rita was just five years old, her family as well as their friends received orders from the Gestapo to report to the train station, as they were to be deported from their home town of Urzejowice in Poland. Rita, her family and their relatives vanished through the night. They left behind their home and possessions t Bending Toward the Sun is a heart-wrenching, emotional memoir. Leslie Gilbert-Lurie with the help of her mother, Rita Lurie, shares their story of surviving through hell and back. When Rita was just five years old, her family as well as their friends received orders from the Gestapo to report to the train station, as they were to be deported from their home town of Urzejowice in Poland. Rita, her family and their relatives vanished through the night. They left behind their home and possessions to seek safety from the Germans. Rita’s family comes upon a good friend. His name is Stashik Grajolski. For two years Rita and about eleven other family members lived in Mr. and Mrs. Grajolski’s attic. They eventually were able to make their way out of Poland and set foot on American soil. Bending Toward the Sun tells this amazing story of courage, sadness, and family. I like how this book was broken out into three sections. The first section tells the story of Rita Lurie and her incredible journey. The next two sections are about Leslie and her daughter Mikaela with Rita. They remember their time together from the past to the present. I thought this was a lovely story. I got to know Rita and found her to be a nice woman. This was one memoir I was happy to read. It reminded me of The Diary of Anne Frank and The Hiding Place. Two really good non fiction novels. One thing though is that at the beginning as I was just getting to know Rita, I found all the people she came upon hard to keep straight. Other than this factor, I did like this book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    In this three-generational memoir, Gilbert-Lurie tells the story of her mother, Rita, who survived the holocaust hiding with most of her extended family in a farmhouse attic. Rita then comes with her father, sister, and stepmother to the United States, where she has a difficult time growing up, and a troubled relationship with her stepmother. The second part of the memoir is Gilbert-Lurie's, as she talks about the effects of being the daughter of a survivor, feeling responsible, from a very youn In this three-generational memoir, Gilbert-Lurie tells the story of her mother, Rita, who survived the holocaust hiding with most of her extended family in a farmhouse attic. Rita then comes with her father, sister, and stepmother to the United States, where she has a difficult time growing up, and a troubled relationship with her stepmother. The second part of the memoir is Gilbert-Lurie's, as she talks about the effects of being the daughter of a survivor, feeling responsible, from a very young age, for her mother's happiness. Finally, there is the story of Mikaela, Rita's granddaughter, who develops severe separation anxiety, which her mother attributes to the effects of the holocaust on a third generation. While this certainly is a likely aspect of the problem, Mikaela seems overly and unhealthily indulged in this, and ultimately it was frustrating reading about a family so overly enmeshed.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Abby

    This was beautifully written. It took years for the authors to endure/research/prepare/write this memoir, and I (selfishly) read it in less than a week. It was heartbreaking and emotional to read, and yet it was incredibly awe-inspiring. This mother/daughter memoir unlocks the emotions of a family story surrounding events from the Holocaust. It depicts the aftermath of the Holocaust from the perspective of three generations--the survivor (grandmother), the successful professional (mother), and t This was beautifully written. It took years for the authors to endure/research/prepare/write this memoir, and I (selfishly) read it in less than a week. It was heartbreaking and emotional to read, and yet it was incredibly awe-inspiring. This mother/daughter memoir unlocks the emotions of a family story surrounding events from the Holocaust. It depicts the aftermath of the Holocaust from the perspective of three generations--the survivor (grandmother), the successful professional (mother), and the hopeful child (daughter). I loved every minute of this overpowering story and I highly recommend it to those interested in memoirs and WWII/Holocaust. This book will move you. It will make you cry, but it will also help you realize that no matter the circumstances of the past...there is always hope for a brighter future. Thank you, Nancy, for letting me borrow this:)

  10. 5 out of 5

    April

    If the sins of the father are visited upon the son, then are the sorrows of the mother to be carried on by the daughter? Reading Bending Toward The Sun by Leslie Gilbert-Lurie has made me ponder this. Bending Toward The Sun starts out with the narration of Rita, Leslie's mother. Rita and some of her family members survived the Holocaust by hiding in the attic of a family friend. Rita's tale is fascinating, I can't help but ache for her. To be honest, I did cry a bit while reading her story. Read If the sins of the father are visited upon the son, then are the sorrows of the mother to be carried on by the daughter? Reading Bending Toward The Sun by Leslie Gilbert-Lurie has made me ponder this. Bending Toward The Sun starts out with the narration of Rita, Leslie's mother. Rita and some of her family members survived the Holocaust by hiding in the attic of a family friend. Rita's tale is fascinating, I can't help but ache for her. To be honest, I did cry a bit while reading her story. Read the rest of my review here

  11. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    The first part of this book was really interesting because it described the life of a Holocaust survivor after the war, which isn't a story that's often told. But after that the book really seemed to drag on; it was like the author was just trying to make the book longer by adding in mundane details. I would recommend it if you are interested in WWII books though. The first part of this book was really interesting because it described the life of a Holocaust survivor after the war, which isn't a story that's often told. But after that the book really seemed to drag on; it was like the author was just trying to make the book longer by adding in mundane details. I would recommend it if you are interested in WWII books though.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Stacy

    I received an audio ARC of this book through NetGalley in exchange for my unbiased opinion. Bending Towards the Sun is a memoir of Holocaust survivor Ruth Lurie and her daughter, Leslie Gilbert-Lurie. As a young girl, Ruth and part of her family survived the Holocaust by hiding in the attic of a Polish farmer, then spend several years wandering Europe, stateless, as they wait for a country that will accept them. These formative years had lifelong impacts on Ruth, both physically and emotionally. I received an audio ARC of this book through NetGalley in exchange for my unbiased opinion. Bending Towards the Sun is a memoir of Holocaust survivor Ruth Lurie and her daughter, Leslie Gilbert-Lurie. As a young girl, Ruth and part of her family survived the Holocaust by hiding in the attic of a Polish farmer, then spend several years wandering Europe, stateless, as they wait for a country that will accept them. These formative years had lifelong impacts on Ruth, both physically and emotionally. The effects of the Holocaust effect not just Ruth but also her daughter and granddaughter. As a child, Leslie Gilbelrt-Lurie always felt it was necessary to please her mother. She also had separation anxiety when she went away to camp and often thought of worst case scenarios. As an adult, Leslie learns about the multigenerational impact of the Holocaust on the descendents of survivors and sees its truth in her own family. Ruth and Leslie decided to write this book to get Ruth's experiences written down and hopefully help her find some closure. I think it is so important to get real life stories like Ruth's written down while we still can. We have all heard of Anne Frank and her family hiding from the Nazis, but I had not heard of a family successfully hiding through the end of the war. I am so glad that Ruth and part of her family were able to survive. I had heard of the emotional trauma of the Holocaust passing on through DNA to the children of survivors, but this was the first actual case I have read about. I appreciated that this story focused on life after the Holocaust, as opposed to giving a brief summary in an epilogue. Ruth and Laurie do the narration of the audiobook themselves, which really added to Ruth's part of the story. I did not care for Laurie's narration as much; at times, her voice seemed flat. I definitely recommend this book for those who want to learn not just about the Holocaust but about the lasting effects on its survivors.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth McVay

    I really enjoyed the story of Rita. Her holocaust story is one of struggle and heartache. She experienced so much at a young age and this affected her entire life. I was very interested in reading this book because I have read about the children of Holocaust survivors being affected by their parent's experiences. Rita spent her young life hiding from the Nazi's in an attic. It was a bit like the story of Anne Frank except for Rita's hiding was not as planned out as The Franks. She experienced hu I really enjoyed the story of Rita. Her holocaust story is one of struggle and heartache. She experienced so much at a young age and this affected her entire life. I was very interested in reading this book because I have read about the children of Holocaust survivors being affected by their parent's experiences. Rita spent her young life hiding from the Nazi's in an attic. It was a bit like the story of Anne Frank except for Rita's hiding was not as planned out as The Franks. She experienced hunger, death and anxiety at a very young age. After her experiences in the attic, she experiences a lack of love and motherly nuturing throughout her young life. This affects her own adult life and her mental state. Rita makes it her goal to be the best mother that she can be. Many holocaust survivors were unable to cope with their experiences but Rita makes it a point to give her children the best life. Leslie, Rita's daughter, tells the second part of the story. I was not a fan of her story. She came off as unsatified with the way her mother raisied her. However, Rita tried her hardest to give Leslie the best life possible. It was very hard for me to get through Leslie's part of the book without feeling annoyed by Leslie's complaints. Overall, this memoir was not my favorite. I have read a number of Holocaust memoirs and this one did not stick out to me. Once again, I loved Rita's story and I wish the story would have focused mostly on her experiences and gone a bit more in depth with her time in Nazi-occupied Poland.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Ewald

    Very unique story about the Holocaust, and how it not only affects the survivor, but can bring psychological issues to generations removed from the survivor. It starts out the story of Rita Lurie who was 5 years old when she and her family fled their home in Poland and spent 2 years in a friend's attic hiding from the Nazis. 14 members of her family in a cramped dark attic. Rita is traumatized seeing her baby brother die, and her mother becoming depressed and losing her will to live, to die befo Very unique story about the Holocaust, and how it not only affects the survivor, but can bring psychological issues to generations removed from the survivor. It starts out the story of Rita Lurie who was 5 years old when she and her family fled their home in Poland and spent 2 years in a friend's attic hiding from the Nazis. 14 members of her family in a cramped dark attic. Rita is traumatized seeing her baby brother die, and her mother becoming depressed and losing her will to live, to die before her eyes, a loss that haunts her for the rest of her life. After the war, she and her family spend the next 5 years wandering throughout Europe waiting for a country to accept them. Eventually they find themselves on the way to America. America is not easy though, and she finds herself feeling as an outcast. She marries and becomes a mother to the author and several other children. As happy as she is with her family, the shadow of the loss of her mother looms over her. Her anxiety becomes something that is 'passed' to Leslie in the form of extreme anxiety of being away from her mom. It becomes a cycle that is 'passed' to Leslie's own daughter. It is only when Leslie and her mom embark on the journey to tell Rita's story that Leslie begins to understand her mother's dark periods. Often times their story is difficult to read, but necessary, as well.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Janice

    This is an amazing book! It's a gift to all mothers and daughters and families who are trying to understand WHY things are the way they are. The book is more than about the Holocaust, a truly horrific experience and time in our world, but about how children and grandchildren are affected by the trauma a parent goes through. I am jealous of Leslie for having the time with her mother and getting her mother and family to share all they did. What a gift! I found out a few years ago that my birth mot This is an amazing book! It's a gift to all mothers and daughters and families who are trying to understand WHY things are the way they are. The book is more than about the Holocaust, a truly horrific experience and time in our world, but about how children and grandchildren are affected by the trauma a parent goes through. I am jealous of Leslie for having the time with her mother and getting her mother and family to share all they did. What a gift! I found out a few years ago that my birth mother had died - and I never got the chance to talk with her or get to know her. The ways in which Leslie was able to come to understand and demonstrate how her mother's trauma affected her was brilliant. This memoir speaks volumes and left my head and heart reeling. Working with those affected by domestic violence or other issues - I will always be thinking about the impact of this and could the negative impacts have been altered, changed, improved with counseling and support? I find myself self-evaluating more of why I am the way I am and the way I parent. I wish my daughter would read this and consider my past as it translated to her growing up - and my sisters, my aunt, and friends. Powerful on many levels. Expertly and loving written, Leslie Gilbert-Lurie!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Becki Basley

    Bending towards the sun : A mother and daughter memoir By Leslie Gilbert-Lurie and Rita Lurie (Scribd). The time Is world war 2 and setting is Poland. Forced to flee for their lives, Rita went into hiding with 14 of her family members in a crowded attic. They had to stay quiet and move as little as possible while the farmer downstairs did his best to keep them alive. They lived in these conditions five years. At the end of the war, Rita and her family move several times before settling in the Uni Bending towards the sun : A mother and daughter memoir By Leslie Gilbert-Lurie and Rita Lurie (Scribd). The time Is world war 2 and setting is Poland. Forced to flee for their lives, Rita went into hiding with 14 of her family members in a crowded attic. They had to stay quiet and move as little as possible while the farmer downstairs did his best to keep them alive. They lived in these conditions five years. At the end of the war, Rita and her family move several times before settling in the United States. As is often the case, a part of them in their psyche remained in that attic. This book takes you through the life of Rita and the challenges and nightmares not only she lives with but how it affected her children and even her grandchildren. Its a very insightful book , highly recommend

  17. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    This book is in two parts the first is the story of the Polish Jewish mother who was a survivor of the holocaust. The second was the story of her daughter who was born and raised in America. The first part was read by the mother herself, very moving and explained the situation for so many people very well. Despite the human horror of the events and tragic loss of life, the mother and her family left everything and emigrated to America to begin a new life. An opportunity to start a new life and r This book is in two parts the first is the story of the Polish Jewish mother who was a survivor of the holocaust. The second was the story of her daughter who was born and raised in America. The first part was read by the mother herself, very moving and explained the situation for so many people very well. Despite the human horror of the events and tragic loss of life, the mother and her family left everything and emigrated to America to begin a new life. An opportunity to start a new life and repair the damage done. The daughter who appears to have had a loving home and living the American dream is tormented by the effects of what her mother went through. The second part of the book read by the author became a chore to listen/read. I did finish it, three stars for part 1. Thank you to #Netgalley for the audio version of this book.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Helen Rebecca Blog

    Five year old Rita had to flee her home in Poland from the Nazis with her family and live in an attic for over 2 years. The family existed crowded in there silently, surviving on scraps of food. Rita and the family members that survived then spent years drifting through Europe before settling in America. Bending Towards The Sun is harrowing, moving, thought provoking and poignant and will stay with me for a long time. Whilst what happened during the war is something everyone knows I’m ashamed to Five year old Rita had to flee her home in Poland from the Nazis with her family and live in an attic for over 2 years. The family existed crowded in there silently, surviving on scraps of food. Rita and the family members that survived then spent years drifting through Europe before settling in America. Bending Towards The Sun is harrowing, moving, thought provoking and poignant and will stay with me for a long time. Whilst what happened during the war is something everyone knows I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t know much of what happened to the Holocaust survivors afterwards. Learning that the trauma from it has been passed through the generations is heartbreaking. Both Rita and her daughter Leslie are incredible women and I’m so grateful their story has been told. The audio version of this is a great listen. Both narrators, including Rita’s daughter Leslie, have interesting, captivating voices that really tell the families story. With thanks to NetGalley, Leslie Gilbert-Lurie and Alcove Publishing for my audiobook.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Teri

    mother daughter memoir about the effects the holocaust had on both. mother, Rita Lurie hid in a farmers attic with 14 other family members for 2 years. during that time her 2 year old brother died and her birth mom did 2 weeks later. She ended up in NY and then Chicago after her father remarried. She did not get along with her stepmom and her dad was broken. She fell in love with Frank and had 2 daughters and a son. She had a great marriage but depression, PTSD etc stayed with her. She overcame mother daughter memoir about the effects the holocaust had on both. mother, Rita Lurie hid in a farmers attic with 14 other family members for 2 years. during that time her 2 year old brother died and her birth mom did 2 weeks later. She ended up in NY and then Chicago after her father remarried. She did not get along with her stepmom and her dad was broken. She fell in love with Frank and had 2 daughters and a son. She had a great marriage but depression, PTSD etc stayed with her. She overcame it but had bouts. Most severe incident was treated with ECT. Tours with daughter to to schools to talk about her story

  20. 5 out of 5

    Erica Char

    What this family had to endure during the holocaust is heartbreaking and in many ways incredibly fortunate, which the step mother constantly points out. The writing style and the font choices really turned me off and outside of Ruchel’s experience I lost interest.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Karin

    Thoughtful and poignant, this memoir is difficult to put down. I am inspired by the generations of love within these pages. It is admiral and awe-inspiring what both Lurie women have gone on to achieve in her lives. Highly recommend.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jan

    I know that this is a book she needed to write. It was a bit too much told over and over again which made me lose interest. However, It is such a amazingly detailed of the time, no one wants to talk about.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lesley Ross

    "Excellent" describes this memoir... "Excellent" describes this memoir...

  24. 4 out of 5

    NKay

    This is a true story. The book is excellent and you won’t be able to put it down. I’ve read it multiple times.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Valerie

    A must read Thoughtful, Intense, and totally relevant. Many of us wonder how would we have survived. How would be have lived through the worst atrocities of the modern era. This book takes us into the attic and the lives of people lucky enough to be alive today

  26. 4 out of 5

    Pam Warner

    Boring, slow moving. I am giving up.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    This book has essentially three parts plus one smaller one. The first part is told in Rita's voice. She tells of her childhood in Poland, a country that was largely populated by Jews. Her village was virtually unaffected by the Nazi invasion for the first couple of years. When the S.S. army arrived in approximately 1942, everything changed. As a very young child she and her family stay in an attic for two years. As previously mentioned, Rita witnesses the death of her brother and mother. She is This book has essentially three parts plus one smaller one. The first part is told in Rita's voice. She tells of her childhood in Poland, a country that was largely populated by Jews. Her village was virtually unaffected by the Nazi invasion for the first couple of years. When the S.S. army arrived in approximately 1942, everything changed. As a very young child she and her family stay in an attic for two years. As previously mentioned, Rita witnesses the death of her brother and mother. She is deeply affected by these deaths. In 1944, when the Russians first conquered Poland, the families emerged from the attic and went from one Displaced Persons camp to another. Isaac, her father, remarries and they immigrate to the U.S. The second section of the book (according to me) is Rita's growing up years. The family lived in New York then moved to Chicago where she eventually met Frank, her husband. They begin their family life in southern California where they add two daughters and a son to the mix. Their children grow and Leslie, the main author comes of age. Section 3 is Leslie's voice. She describes her mother's behavior and her own reaction to her mother. Both women are stunningly honest. A major theme throughout the book is that Rita never had a childhood and was never nurtured. It seemed that she sought nurturing from inappropriate sources, especially her oldest daughter. *Psychological commentary: (I mean, really, you expected it, didn't you?) Given that Rita's most traumatic experiences occurred when she was between the ages of 5 and 8, every so often her interactions with others seem childish and disproportionately immature. It makes sense, however, that when Rita was feeling stress in her interpersonal relationships, that she would revert to the child who still longed to be nurtured. The scared, lonely little girl in the attic. Carry on. It is clear that Rita is a survivor yet she does not have her own identity. She is vicariously living through her children. Leslie discovers the term "enmeshed" in her adulthood. Honestly, there were many times during this part of the book that I couldn't remember which was the parent and which was the child. Leslie finds that her childhood habit of collecting accomplishments carry over into adulthood. She is the overachiever who seems afraid to have any down time. Meanwhile, Leslie is suffering from generalized anxiety. Sorry about that. I forgot to warn you that I had another psychological commentary. Leslie also takes a trip to Poland where she is background for a cousin's documentary. There she meets the woman who kept the secret of the Jews in her attic, walked through her mother's old house, and became more keenly aware of what her mother experienced. She also discovers that children of the Holocaust survivors tend to be the hyper-achievers. They also tend to carry the grief of their parents on their own shoulders and feel responsible for their parents' happiness. Leslie eventually marries and has children. It is only when her own daughter suffers from extreme separation anxiety that Leslie sees the connection. Leslie tracks down all of her mother's living relatives who offer new insights regarding her grandmother who died and the uncle preceded her. She also tracks down her mother's stepmother who paints a significantly different picture of their relationship. This is a stunning undertaking. I found the honesty in which the book is written to be painful and genuine. It is also striking to see the contrast between the perception of a child and the perception of those who were there and remembered things differently. Perception is reality. The fourth little section is written by Leslie's daughter who is processing the burden she had cast about her shoulders without her knowledge. It is also discovered, at this time, that Leslie is still gathering her accomplishments by being on important committees. When she realizes what she is doing, she gives up her shield and concentrates on being a mother. Leslie is able to convey facts and feelings without judgment. She shares herself openly for the reader, as does her mother, and she assigns her own meaning when crucial to the experience. Much of the time, however, Leslie is objective and open to interpretation. An amazing journey. 4 and half stars.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Zoë Danielle

    Bending Toward the Sun is a collaborative memoir between Leslie Gilbert-Lurie and her mother, Holocaust survivor Rita Lurie. Rita's life story provides a possible answer to the question, what would have happened if Anne Frank had survived? Like Anne Frank, Rita spent two years hidden in a Polish attic with fourteen family members. Rita lived through the war but emerged motherless, stateless, and gravely ill. After five years wandering Europe, Rita and her family receive American visas and move t Bending Toward the Sun is a collaborative memoir between Leslie Gilbert-Lurie and her mother, Holocaust survivor Rita Lurie. Rita's life story provides a possible answer to the question, what would have happened if Anne Frank had survived? Like Anne Frank, Rita spent two years hidden in a Polish attic with fourteen family members. Rita lived through the war but emerged motherless, stateless, and gravely ill. After five years wandering Europe, Rita and her family receive American visas and move to the States. However for Rita, the Holocaust is only the beginning of her struggles, as she emerges permanently scarred by her experiences. Eventually she marries and has a daughter, Leslie, who she loves dearly but who is also changed by her mother's fear and guilt from being a Holocaust survivor. In turn, Leslie passes on a similar outlook to her own daughter Mikaela. In this way, Bending Toward the Sun is the story of three generations of women and shares the undeniable truth that the impact of a horror such as the Holocaust isn't restricted to those that survive but becomes a legacy passed on from generation to generation. Bending Toward the Sun is an extremely powerful memoir about how we can inherit not only the tangible- blue eyes, brown hair- from our parents but also the intangible, their anxiety and their strength. My favourite portion of the book was the first one, which is written as dictated by Rita to Leslie, and covers not only her time in the attic but also the events that followed. Rita is just a little girl and the things she goes through, from loosing her brother and mother to nearly loosing her own life as she suffers unknowingly from bother tuberculous and rickets, are so outside my own realm of experience I wished I could reach across time and somehow help her. Included within the book are photographs relating to the times described, and they are a perfect compliment which helps remind the reader exactly how young the narrator was. Although as Leslie later emphasizes when she learns conflicting stories from other family members, Rita's memory is not perfect and she only five years old when the story begins, but regardless Bending Toward the Sun provides a powerful look into the life of one Holocaust survivor in her own words, something that which becomes increasingly rare as time passes. Although I was slightly less fond of the sections following Rita's, I did appreciate the role they played in explaining how Rita's experiences in turn influenced how her daughter would see the world. For many years Leslie was afraid to move away from home and constantly felt responsible for her mother's happiness, a huge burden on her shoulders. Despite all her mother put her through, Leslie is able to continue to see the strength Rita possesses and recognizes that a lot of what she is a coping mechanism that was instilled in her from such great horror at a young age. Where I connected less to Bending Toward the Sun was the section written by Mikaela, which was about as well done as anything written by a twelve-year old could be expected to be but seemed more like a school essay than something that really triggered an emotional response in the reader. I also wish Leslie had focused slightly less on her own daughter's experiences, such as having a hard time being away from home and being extremely clingy. The point Leslie is trying to make is that the impact of the Holocaust continues even in the following generations of the survivors, and I feel that could have been said slightly more concisely and without so much detail on the life of her own daughter. While Leslie grew up living with Rita and experienced her issues first hand, Mikaela is yet another generation removed and although I appreciated that she continued to be influenced by her grandmother's experiences I found it much less interesting from a historical perspective. Ultimately, Bending Toward the Sun is a well-written and unique look into the life of one Holocaust survivor and an important reminder of the legacies our parents pass onto us. As fewer and fewer survivors of the Holocaust remain, having a written record of what they went through becomes increasingly important. However as Bending Toward the Sun reminds the reader, as long as descendants exist the tragedy of the Holocaust will never truly be forgotten.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kimm

    This is a deeply personal story about survival. A mother’s literal survival of the Holocaust and her daughter’s figurative survival as the child of a Holocaust victim. There can be little left in this world that is more horrendous than genocide. Those that make it through are left with a lifetime of scars on the inside as well as the outside. It is always a powerful experience for me to read and learn from their experiences. Leslie Gilbert-Lurie divides her book into two segments: the first consi This is a deeply personal story about survival. A mother’s literal survival of the Holocaust and her daughter’s figurative survival as the child of a Holocaust victim. There can be little left in this world that is more horrendous than genocide. Those that make it through are left with a lifetime of scars on the inside as well as the outside. It is always a powerful experience for me to read and learn from their experiences. Leslie Gilbert-Lurie divides her book into two segments: the first consists of her mother’s story as a child in Poland and continues through until the birth of Leslie; the second part consists of Leslie’s experience growing up and into adulthood under her mother’s close guidance. Although the book is written as the voice of two separate women, I found them more identical in tone and character. I think that stems from the fact that Rita provided the details of her history, but Leslie is the force that fleshed them out and brought them to life. It takes little away from the story, but I think it was interesting enough to point out. Books like Gilbert-Lurie’s should be required reading. I think every child should grow up and learn about the mistakes of the past. We should all be aware of how fortunate our lives are and how much we are able to take for granted. Many people gave their lives for these privileges and it can become much too easy to lose sight of that. In my cozy little corner of the world, I can be thankful that no member of my family ever had to endure the tragedy of the Holocaust in terms of anything more than soldiers fighting in World War II. Of course, that was horrific enough, but nothing even remotely close to what the Survivors experienced. As a child, I lived in Germany for seven years. I was an American child in a foreign country who tried to make sense of a war that had no sense to it. I was able to see the effects of the war some thirty years later and puzzled by the ability of one man to dominate the whole of Europe. I remember reading about Anne Frank and her life in the attic. She felt like an anomaly. Surely, other people didn’t live like that. The fact that Rita Lurie did and survived to tell about it feels surreal. Her journey through the years afterwards is a poignant reminder that life was a continual struggle. To see family relationships deteriorate after so much dependence on one another was heartbreaking. If you don’t have your family to rely on---what do you have?? Leslie’s life in the shadow of her mother’s trauma brought on another wave of reflection. An extension of survivor’s guilt? Her powerful drive to succeed? I can only imagine that just one small tweak to her personality or another helping of personal tragedy could have caused a completely different outcome. Could it all have become so overwhelming that she might never have been able to find any measure of success in her life? It’s very interesting to see how events of so long ago still have the ability to impact her character. With the addition of a third generation, Leslie’s daughter, Mikaela, I find myself rooting for her and hope that she takes life’s offerings and makes the most of it. How will her grandmother’s relationship with her alter her own impression of the world? Will her ties to her mother strengthen her personal determination? I admit that I have not given as much thought to the effect of the Holocaust on future generations. It comes at a crucial time when we are more likely to let those memories slip away. How will it shape Mikaela? I highly recommend this book for anyone and everyone. It’s a feminine storyline, but I think it can cross the gender barrier easily and find it’s way into even the most masculine of hearts.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

    Bending Toward the Sun stirred in me many emotions and thoughts that I did not expect to experience while reading this book. It is a multi-generational memoir beginning when now grandmother, Rita Lurie, is a young child during the Holocaust. This book is advertised as a memoir about the Holocaust, and while that does definitely have a significant place in the lives of these women and is the foundation for much of the thoughts and feelings experienced by them, it is not what defines this memoir. Bending Toward the Sun stirred in me many emotions and thoughts that I did not expect to experience while reading this book. It is a multi-generational memoir beginning when now grandmother, Rita Lurie, is a young child during the Holocaust. This book is advertised as a memoir about the Holocaust, and while that does definitely have a significant place in the lives of these women and is the foundation for much of the thoughts and feelings experienced by them, it is not what defines this memoir. I was drawn to many different themes in this book -- mainly to those about the often frustrating dynamics in mother-daughter relationships and to those themes regarding cultural differences and their effect on those individuals living through them. Before reading any more of this review, you may want to watch a short interview with the three women on the Today show. I watched it before I read this book and it gave me a great introduction to whom I was to read about. That interview is here, and there is also an excerpt there if you're interested. The memoir starts off with Rita describing her childhood from the time of the war and when they had to go into hiding. This part is, as you can imagine, heartbreaking. The entire book is well done in that it tells of a life story without spending too long on each topic as memoirs sometimes tend to do. It moves at a consistent pace throughout which maintains the readers' interest. The effects of the Holocaust are long lasting on Rita and she takes us through the events of the rest of her life including the birth and raising of her children. The second part of the book is then the thoughts of Rita's daughter, Leslie. She grows up feeling a fierce protectiveness toward her mother as well as separation anxiety. This is all despite the many successes and accomplishments throughout the years. She discusses then the birth of her children and how her daughter, Mikaela, appears to have all the same anxieties toward her. It is then that Leslie starts to learn more about how trauma survivors can often pass down their anxieties to the next generation and so on. The memoir doesn't delve into this topic too much to exhaust the casual reader, but enough that it may pique the interest of those interested in psychology and mental health. But as I mentioned above, what I enjoyed best about this book was both the multi-generational method of story-telling and the mother-daughter dynamics. The multi-generational aspect is something often seen in fiction, but I have never read a memoir in this fashion. I found it fascinating to follow the lives from the time Rita was a child through to her daughter's life and then through to another. This may be a result of my personal lack of multi-generational knowledge. I was never close with my maternal grandparents due to geographical and language barriers. Then, cultural differences often caused similar clashes between my mother and me that I read about here with Rita and Leslie, and for me it was almost therapeutic reading about it and being able to identify similarities in their interactions. The book is peppered throughout with pictures of Rita growing up, and of Leslie too. I love having a variety of pictures in memoirs so I can see the people I am reading about. In the book, Leslie states that her mother, Rita, wanted to document her experience during the Holocaust, being, as she is, one from the last generation of survivors. I, too, think it's important and wonderful for her to document her history. As Leslie also stated, Rita's life and experiences are possibly what Anne Frank may experienced had she lived. For this reason alone, this book is worth reading.

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