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Bending Toward the Sun: A Mother and Daughter Memoir

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  602 ratings  ·  85 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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Average rating 3.93  · 
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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 ...more
Sally Wessely
Oct 16, 2009 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
Mar 02, 2010 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
Jul 26, 2014 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.
Jason Staker
Sep 08, 2017 rated it liked it
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
Jul 27, 2009 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
Mar 31, 2010 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
Feb 03, 2011 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
Aug 28, 2009 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.
Aug 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, world-war-ii
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.
Sarah Ewald
Oct 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Becki Basley
Jul 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Bending towards the sun : A mother and daughter memoir By Leslie Gilbert-Lurie and Rita Lurie
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
Oct 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Patsy Lutz
Jun 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Very moving of how one family survived the Holocast, and the author, and extended family travel back to Poland to actually find the house where her grandmother died, and her mother survived 4 years of living in an attic. The lady who hid them in her attic was still alive, and they actually were able to visit the home and climb in the attic...I can't say enough.
Erica Char
Jun 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
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.
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir, favorites
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.
Oct 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
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.
Lesley Ross
Jun 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"Excellent" describes this memoir...
Mar 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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.
Pam Warner
Boring, slow moving. I am giving up.
Oct 07, 2010 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
Zoë Danielle
Dec 13, 2010 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
Oct 12, 2010 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
Aug 17, 2009 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 14, 2009 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
Aug 03, 2009 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 17, 2010 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
Feb 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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Christine (booktumbling)
Aug 23, 2009 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
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