Bending Toward the Sun: A Mother and Daughter Memoir
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Bending Toward the Sun: A Mother and Daughter Memoir

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  199 ratings  ·  56 reviews
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...more
Hardcover, 357 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by Harper (first published August 18th 2009)
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JG (The 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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
Wendy Hines
Bending Toward the Sun is a memoir that spans three generations. It's told in different points of view, which is nice, because as you see it may not be how they see it.

Rita Lurie is five when she is uprooted from everything she knows, ripped from her home, to flee from the Nazi's. Her family and eleven others take refuge in a friend's attic. She watches her brother and her mother die, but she eventually leaves Poland.

She struggles to find herself in her new world, but she is strong and brave and...more
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...more
Kelli
Interesting book in which Leslie Gilbert-Lurie documents her mother's (Rita's) story of being a Jewish child in hiding during WWII in Poland and then postwar traveling around Europe in search of a country in which they could live peacefully. Gilbert-Lurie explores how the emotional and pyhysical trauma her mother suffered during childhood was passed on to her own children and then on to their children. The recounting of Rita's story was interesting and the notion that emotional trauma can be pas...more
Sensitivemuse
Bending Toward the Sun is a mother and daughter memoir by Leslie Gilbert-Lurie and her mother, Rita Lurie. It covers both of their lives and how the Holocaust has made such a significant impact on them and on their future generation. The first part features Rita's story, from hiding in a cramped attic with her family during the War to her years in America struggling with her past and growing up without a real mother. The second part of the book, covers Leslie's life, who tries very hard to pleas...more
Jane Maritz
Ever wonder what Anne Frank's story would have been like if she survived the holocaust?

I recently read Bending Toward the Sun: A Mother and Daughter Memoir, which starts out with the true story of a young girl who hid in an attic with her family during WWII. It was a gripping but hard story to read.

I kept seeing myself in her mother's shoes. I stress over things like getting Esmé educated and keeping her entertained. How would I survive watching my children fade away from lack of food and stimul...more
Susan
Bending Toward the Sun is an emotionally riveting and beautifully written Holocaust memoir. The first section of the book, Rita's story of hiding - living in deplorable conditions, watching as beloved members of her family died - is truly horrifying and distressing. Rita's experiences as a young girl shaped her in a profound way, and the repercussions of the extreme suffering she endured and witnessed, reverberated through the years, touching the lives of not only her children, but also her gran...more
Anna
Bending Toward the Sun: A Mother and Daughter Memoir by Leslie Gilbert-Lurie with Rita Lurie is different from the other Holocaust memoirs I’ve read in that it delves deep into how the horrific things the survivors endured can be passed across generations in the form of guilt, fear, and anxiety. It is the kind of book that stays with you days after you’ve turned the last page.

The book is broken into three parts, with the first part told by Rita Lurie and covering the years 1937 to 1960. Rita de...more
Zoë
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...more
Christine (booktumbling)
Leslie Gilbert-Lurie’s memoir is more than a story of the horrors her mother, Rita, and 13 other family members endured for two years while hiding in an attic from the Nazis. It is a intimate portrait on how fear of loss, guilt and depression can unknowingly be handed down generation to generation.

Rita’s first-hand description of her family’s existence in the attic is harrowing. The elation and relief that is felt when they learn of their “freedom” is short-lived when they discover they are free...more
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....more
Jennifer
I am in awe of this book. I found it beautifully written, first from the perspective of Rita (Ruchel), then her daughter, Leslie, and then a combined narrative in the final third of the book, with sprinklings of Mikaela (Leslie's daughter) as well. I was thoroughly enmeshed in this story. I felt so connected to all the key characters and could not put the book down. Although, I cannot identify with the Holocaust in a personal nature, the events and feelings were so vividly written that I felt li...more
Literary
I received this book from FSB Media in exchange for my review.

I normally try to steer clear of historical recounts, but when I read the summary for Bending Toward the Sun on the FSB Media website, it intrigued me. To actually read about what occurred to an actual survivor of a terrible historical event and how it affected her future generations was something I couldn't pass up ... and I'm glad I didn't.

We've all heard of the story of Anne Frank when we were in school. While terrifying, her stor...more
Maria

This is a must read! I would have loved reading this book with a friend or book group.

The story of Ruchel/Rita is quite amazing and gut wrenching. As her daughter states in the Prologue, Rita's story is very similar to Anne Frank's. Both spent two years hiding during the Holocust and hid with the help of others who would have been killed had they been found. However, Rita is here to tell about her story and pass on this legacy to her children and the generations after.

Besides it being a captivat...more
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...more
Andrea
Normally, I don't like to read many non-fiction books. But when I saw that this was a book about a survivor of the Holocaust, I knew I had to read it. I have always been interested in books dealing with that awful time in history.

Bending Toward the Sun is told from two viewpoints. The first viewpoint is Rita, and we go through her life, starting as her world was uprooted and she had to hide in the attic during the Holocaust all the way until she had her first child, Leslie. Then the viewpoint of...more
Natalie
A beautiful memoir, written by Leslie Gilbert- Lurie. The first part of the story is about Rita and her family. The Gamss family, 14 people, hid from the Nazi's in the attic of a farmers house. During this time, they used buckets for toilets, dirty water had to be used to wash 14 people, potato soup was all they had to eat, 1 time a day and sometimes not every day.
Ritas baby brother died during this time and her mother died shortly after. Two years they hid in the attic.
This story is not just...more
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...more
Leslie
Jun 06, 2011 Leslie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Leslie by: Heather
This was one of my favorite reads this year. I was inspired by the almost unbelievable story of the mother who lived for 2 years from age 6-8 in an attic with 14 other families members during the Holocaust. They miraculously lived through this experience but the story doesn't stop there as in so many other Holocaust memoirs. It continues through her teenage life, marriage, having and raising children and becoming a grandparent. She shares her difficulties in believing she deserves to be happy an...more
Lori
A book unlike any other Holocaust survivor book I've read. So far, I'm riveted.

I will be doing a full review of this, but if you ever wondered what it was like to be a Holocaust survivor or to be the child of one, this is the book for you. It begins with the Gamss family's experiences hiding out in an attic for 2 full years (14 people in a 15 ft long attic, 4 ft high). Sections are told by Rita, who lived in the attic, Leslie, her daughter, and Mikaela, her granddaughter. I think this is a must...more
Kerry
Feb 08, 2011 Kerry rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: own
Photographs and first-hand accounts throughout the memoir bring the experiences of the Gamss (Lurie's maiden name) family to life. This story of Holocaust survival goes beyond the war, however, and its emphasis on post-war impact makes the story personally relevant even to those who do not have a similar family history. Any readers with a relative struggling with depression will understand the emotions of both Rita and her daughters. Any readers struggling with depression or guilt themselves wil...more
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.
Bridget
Interesting premise: how the survival skills gleaned from enduring the Holocaust affected three generations of women. Rita, the mother's staggering narrative of surviving the Holocaust as a Jew hiding in Poland is the heart of this book. It's absolutely riveting and heartbreakingly powerful. How Rita's experience and survival mechanisms played out in her relationships with her children and grandchildren, while interesting, wasn't explored as deeply as I would have liked. I suspect her daughter h...more
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...more
Haley Reeder
This Holocaust story is unlike any other Holocaust story I've ever read. I've never considered the impact of the Holocaust on the survivors and their succeeding generations. I think I've always ignorantly assumed that if you survived the Holocaust as a Jew (as this woman has)you were lucky to be alive and could do nothing but live a life of celebration. While this is true in some aspects of life, unfortunately for the Holocaust survivors, they will always carry this tragic event with them.
I tho...more
Colleen Heyboer
This was quite a good book for a memoir (It isn't my favorite genre...). This one intrigued me because it is about a mother-daughter-granddaughter relationship. The mother - Rita - is a holocaust survivor. She survived with her family in the attic of a farmer's house. When she returned to her home after the war was over she still faced ridicule and was forced into a refuge camp. Finally she immigrated to the United States but still suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome. The memoir explore...more
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