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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Bending Toward the Sun by Leslie Gilbert Lurie

Bending Toward the Sun: A Mother and Daughter Memoir
Publisher: Harper
ISBN: 0061734764
Pages: 368 pgs
Genre: Memoir
Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge

Publisher's Description:
A miraculous lesson in courage and recovery, Bending Toward the Sun tells the story of a unique family bondforged 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. 

My Review:
How many ways can I say that I loved this book? I was sucked into this book from the moment I began reading. I squirreled away moments where I could pick it up again during a very busy week and looked forward to my hellish commute so I could continue reading. It's very rare that you find a book you like that much, so, when it happens I get a bit overenthusiastic and my reviews tend to glow. Prepare yourself for the glowing.

I have read many books about the Holocaust but I have never read one where the story goes on after and shows how the events of the Holocaust went on to affect the survivors' children and grandchildren. It becomes more of a family history beyond being a historical account of the Holocaust and I really appreciate that. I think this is part of the reason I loved the book so much because I do love a good family history. It was interesting and heart wrenching to see the scars of the Holocaust travel from generation to generation.

I became quite attached to Leslie and Rita. Both of their voices were clear and distinct. Usually when I read a book with two different narrators, I identify with one more than the other. That was not the case with Bending Toward The Sun. Both voices were clearly defined and I loved both of them. Each woman was interesting and likable in her own way. Both are strong, talented and intelligent women and I admire both of them. It was also extremely lovely to read a novel about a family as freakishly close and linked as mine. My immediate family is close almost to the point of being abnormal while my relationship with my aunts, uncles and cousins can be described as holiday, weddings  and funerals and to tell you the truth, I like it that way because I don't like any of them at all. My relationship with my mother is very much like Leslie's relationship with Rita. I am constantly wondering if she is okay. I think most of us can identify with that.

Bending Toward the Sun was one of my reading highlights of the year. I couldn't put it down nor did I want to. I would recommend this book to just about everyone. I have already sent out the Amazon listing to my friends and family.

*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review. My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the blog.

1 comment:

  1. [...] Greenberg 57.The Holy Bullet-Luis Miguel Rocha 58. To Serve Them All My Days-R.F. Delderfield 59. Bending Toward the Sun-Leslie Gilbert Lurie 60. God Is an Englishman-R.F. Delderfield 61. A Match For Mary [...]



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