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Bending Toward the Sun: A Mother and Daughter Memoir

3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  424 Ratings  ·  73 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
Hardcover, 368 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
Oct 16, 2009 Sally Wessely rated it really liked it
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
Aug 31, 2009 Cheryl rated it liked it
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
Feb 17, 2011 Abby rated it really liked it
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
Mar 09, 2010 Jude rated it it was ok
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
Nov 11, 2012 April rated it really liked it
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.
Jul 26, 2014 Ann rated it liked it
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.
Pam Warner
Boring, slow moving. I am giving up.
Jan 03, 2017 Mauri rated it it was amazing
Loved this book great characters
Jan 20, 2011 Zoë rated it really liked it
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
Apr 15, 2014 Nancy rated it really liked it
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
Nov 30, 2010 Kimm rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 27, 2009 Jenny rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2009
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
Sep 29, 2016 Megan rated it liked it
This was an interesting read--a memoir of sorts about of a young Jewish girl who survived the Holocaust with some of her family, because of a Polish farmer who hid them in his attic. The book is split into three sections though--the girl that was hidden, her daughter (who is the author of the book) and the granddaughter and how that trauma has affected generations.
I would have to do my own research to buy into this generational ptsd idea (grandma suffered through Holocaust and it is now somehow
Sep 27, 2009 Sensitivemuse rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 24, 2010 Literary rated it really liked it
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 story
Jun 21, 2016 Anna rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wwii
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
Sep 20, 2010 Maria rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir

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
Christine (booktumbling)
Aug 30, 2009 Christine (booktumbling) rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 20, 2016 Shannon rated it liked it
This is a book that chronicles a young Jewish girl in Poland during the Holocaust as she hid with her family in an attic for 2 years. What makes this a better book than many similar tales, is that it follows the girl as her family wanders homeless for 5 years in Europe, and then for the next 50+ years as she grows, marries, and has a family of her own in America. I loved that aspect, learning how those horrible years manifested in the actions and psyche of the survivors. The 2nd half of the book ...more
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
Jane Maritz
Aug 31, 2009 Jane Maritz rated it it was amazing
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
Wendy Hines
Jun 01, 2013 Wendy Hines rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 25, 2009 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 04, 2016 David rated it it was amazing
This multi-generational true story was at times horrifying, sad, happy, uplifting, and inspiring. It is the first book I have read that actually follows a Jewish family that had survived WWII by hiding in a neighbor's attic for two years until the Nazis had been pushed out of the area. Similarities to Anne Frank's story except that they were not discovered or betrayed. Even though they were not sent to the death camps, what this family experienced after leaving the attic was still fraught with d ...more
Sep 26, 2011 Kelli rated it liked it
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
Sep 30, 2009 Andrea rated it really liked it
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
Mar 31, 2010 Nancy rated it it was ok
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
Jun 06, 2011 Leslie rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 12, 2009 Natalie rated it it was amazing
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
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