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

ISBN: 0061734764

ISBN13: 9780061734762

Bending Toward the Sun: A Mother and Daughter Memoir

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Format: Hardcover

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Book Overview

"Here is a memoir that takes us through many worlds, through heartache and noble hopes, through the mysteries of family love and toward a beautiful, light filled conclusion. Read Bending Toward the... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

fascinating story

One of the best memoirs I have ever read. Absorbing, hard to put down.


All Holocaust memoirs break my heart but this one actually has some positive moments. Well written.

Descendants of a Holocaust survivor endeavor to perpetuate the Holocaust legacy

Thousands of books have been written about the Holocaust. Most memoirs are Holocaust survivors' biographies, some are historians' work and a very few have been written by descendants of Holocaust survivors. Bending Toward the Sun is Rita Lurie's (nee Ruchel Gamss) life story complied by her daughter, Leslie Gilbert-Lurie, who, "wanted to honor her parents and leave a legacy of knowledge about their past. Recent remarks in the news by some Holocaust deniers had made her particularly angry, and eager to clear up misperceptions." Leslie felt the book will, "add meaning to Mom's survival. I was living for three: my grandmother, my mother and me." The story concludes with Leslie's own voice as well as her daughter, Mikaela's. Most Holocaust survivors had been captives, for several years, in forced labor and concentration camps in Germany and its occupied lands. Others survived as partisans in the forests and some had been sheltered in barns and attics of righteous gentiles. Rita was hidden, with fourteen members of her extended family, in a Polish farmer's attic. For providing shelter, the man expected to be paid in jewelry, furs and other valuables. Nevertheless, that goodhearted Pole had risked his life and his family's life by hiding fifteen Jews, confined in his attic. At the age of six and a half, Rita saw her five year-old brother, Nachum, and her mother, Leah, dying in the attic. When the war ended, Rita exclaimed, "I felt like a piece of baggage that had been warehoused for two years!" Some of the Holocaust survivors with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder ("PTSD") are carrying a burden most people, including relatives, are unable to comprehend. This leads to misunderstandings, alienations and collisions in social interactions. Confronting unfair attitudes, real or assumed, stir flashbacks to the wartime episodes. As a Holocaust survivor myself, I feel the constant need to have my aching heart healed and my tormented mind redeemed from the horror and anguish I experienced. Starving killed the physical body but starvation for love and attention killed the soul. A profound sadness and an internal turmoil have been raging within me since the end of the war. A person who had been tortured once is tortured for the rest of his/her life. Although Rita's mind was occupied with her wretched past, she turned away from the cliff to a path of ostensible normalcy. In the absence of manifested love (on the receiving end and on the giving end) for many years, Rita created a new family. Her husband was eager to make her happy and her children showered her with love. When Rita got older she suffered from several bouts of severe depressions. Her children reached out to mitigate their mother's symptoms. PTSD seldom ceases to rage; it hits hard when getting older and frail. I commend Leslie for being an anchor to lean on for her mother who was drowning in despair. Rita was blessed to be nurtured by a compassionate spouse and concerned offspring, who had been

A Powerful and Moving Memoir

Once I began reading this book I truly couldn't put it down. I have always been interested in the Holocaust and stories of the survivors. While reading this book I was so deeply touched by Rita's story and the tragedy that she endured. This book at times had me almost in tears while reading the account of all that the family endured during the 2 years that they were in hiding. I also found their strength to survive and find their way in the world afterward intensely inspiring. It truly shed's light on the effect that the wounds of the Holocaust had on survivors and the long term consequences that it had on their families. I like the way that the book is both told in the mother's words and the daughters words. It makes this memoir unique in that the story remains in the first person perspective throughout and it feels more personal. I would recommend this book as a must read for mothers and daughters or anyone that would enjoy a compelling read that will have a lasting effect on your heart and mind. I received this book from FSB Media Associates program

A deeply moving and profound memoir

I read many books, memoirs in particular, but I have never reviewed one. For Bending Toward the Sun, I make an exception, as I found this book to be deeply moving, profound, and in some small way, life changing. This mother/daughter memoir begins by chronicling Rita Lurie's (Ruchel's) harrowing journey through her Anne Frank-like hiding during the holocaust -- only this one with a happier ending. Her story is at once horrifying and beautiful as it documents man's potential for inhumanity, and at the same time, the courage and perseverance of the human spirit. I was particularly moved by how someone who bore witness to such random inhumanity at such a young and formative age (including watching her mother die in hiding just months before their liberation) and then went on to suffer more abuse in the confusion and craziness of the post war years, could still managed to pull her life together and find enough courage and love in her heart to build and sustain a successful marriage and loving tight knit family. We live in a world where people constantly attribute bad behavior to unfortunate childhood experiences. Yet here is a woman who leaves a boatload of hatred and insanity behind to build a productive, beautiful life. In the next section of the book, Gilbert-Lurie explores how her mother's legacy of trauma and suffering was inadvertently passed down to her, and became her own cross to bear. Gilbert-Lurie, the memoir's lead author, took on what seems to be the Herculean task of writing not only about her mother's survival of the Holocaust, but about how, despite her mother's best intentions, a legacy of fear and anxiety was passed down to her children. Gilbert-Lurie is obviously an extremely functioning and accomplished woman. And yet, she turns herself inside out, to reveal to a world of strangers, the irrational fears and anxieties that have been, from birth, as much a part of her as any other of her god-given traits. The author also makes the point that inheriting the trauma of the previous generation is not unique to the holocaust. And that our world is filled with individuals who struggle to over come the side-effects of hardships they never lived. I found the book to be riveting, and emotionally compelling. And above all, I found it to transcend the specificity of one family's story, in it's successful attempt to make a universal point about the human family, and the wounds we each carry, every day, that we've unknowingly borrowed from our loved ones. A must read.
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