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Bending Toward the Sun LP: A Mother and Daughter Memoir Paperback – Large Print, September 8, 2009

4.3 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The lasting impact of the Holocaust on a survivor and her daughter emerges in this joint account by Lurie-Gilbert and her mother. Lurie was five when a farmer agreed to hide her along with 14 Polish-Jewish relatives in his attic in exchange for jewelry and furs. While in hiding, Lurie witnessed the Nazis shoot a cousin and an uncle; her younger brother and mother died in the stifling, stinking hideout (years later her daughter, Gilbert-Lurie, wonders if the boy was smothered to quiet him and if her grandmother died of a broken heart). After the war, in an Italian DP camp, Lurie's father remarried to a stepmother Lurie resented; her father became increasingly depressed and remote when their fractured and traumatized family relocated to Chicago; and deep depressions haunted Lurie's own otherwise happy marriage. Gilbert-Lurie in turn recalls her mother's overprotectiveness, her career as a TV executive, a 1988 visit to her mother's childhood village and her own guilt, anxiety and sadness. Although the voices and experiences expressed are valuable, the writing is adequate at best, with none of the luminosity of Anne Frank, to whom Gilbert-Lurie compares her mother. Photos. (Sept. 1)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“BENDING TOWARD THE SUN is a captivating memoir that explores a complicated, loving, and enduring mother-daughter bond, and reveals how doubts, hopes, and dreams are handed down from generation to generation. As both a mother and a daughter, I found it deeply touching.” (Arianna Huffington, author, syndicated columnist, and founder of The Huffington Post)

“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 SUN and enrich your life.” (Rabbi David Wolpe, author of Why Faith Matters and Making Loss Matter-Creating Meaning in Difficult Times)

“Gripping, exhausting, exciting, devastating--this book is at times hard to read but always impossible to put down. ” (Rabbi Irving Greenberg, Founding President, Jewish Life Network; former Chairman of United States Holocaust Memorial Museum)

“BENDING TOWARD THE SUN is . . . bolstered by writing that is compelling and sensitive, the book transcends the holocaust genre with its multi-generational point of view on the ultimate effect of fear and evil on young minds.” (Dick Wolf, Emmy Award-winning creator and Executive Producer of Law and Order; Law and Order: Special Victims Unit; and Law and Order: Criminal Intent)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: HarperLuxe; Lgr edition (September 8, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061885134
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061885136
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,307,111 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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 deeply affected by these deaths.

In 1944, when the Russians first conquered Poland, the families emerged from the attic and went from one Displaced Persons camp to another. Isaac, her father, remarries and they immigrate to the U.S. The second section of the book (according to me) is Rita's growing up years. The family lived in New York then moved to Chicago where she eventually met Frank, her husband. They begin their family life in southern California where they add two daughters and a son to the mix. Their children grow and Leslie, the main author comes of age.

Section 3 is Leslie's voice. She describes her mother's behavior and her own reaction to her mother. Both women are stunningly honest. A major theme throughout the book is that Rita never had a childhood and was never nurtured. It seemed that she sought nurturing from inappropriate sources, especially her oldest daughter.

*Psychological commentary: (I mean, really, you expected it, didn't you?) Given that Rita's most traumatic experiences occurred when she was between the ages of 5 and 8, every so often her interactions with others seem childish and disproportionately immature.
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Format: Hardcover
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 to seek safety from the Germans. Rita's family comes upon a good friend. His name is Stashik Grajolski. For two years Rita and about eleven other family members lived in Mr. and Mrs. Grajolski's attic. They eventually were able to make their way out of Poland and set foot on American soil.

Bending Toward the Sun tells this amazing story of courage, sadness, and family. I like how this book was broken out into three sections. The first section tells the story of Rita Lurie and her incredible journey. The next two sections are about Leslie and her daughter Mikaela with Rita. They remember their time together from the past to the present. I thought this was a lovely story. I got to know Rita and found her to be a nice woman. This was one memoir I was happy to read. It reminded me of The Diary of Anne Frank and The Hiding Place. Two really good non fiction novels. One thing though is that at the beginning as I was just getting to know Rita, I found all the people she came upon hard to keep straight. Other than this factor, I did like this book.
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Format: Hardcover
What I Can Tell You: 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 captivating book it is thought provoking and made me think of my own legacy and past and what I may be unconsciously handing down to my own children. Because, as Leslie mentions, our mother's past or families past, effects and shapes who we are as people.

Rita is lucky to have survived such an ordeal that changed history and is still affecting individuals.

Leslie, Rita and even Granddaughter Mikaela who has a big voice in this book are very brave to have started the journey of documenting the life and times of Ruchel/Rita. What a gripping story that will sit with me for quite some time.

I implore you to check out the book video here.

If you decide to read this book, know that you will learn a lot about yourself and your own relationship with your mother.

What makes this book even more special is the amount of photos peppered throughout the story. Seeing the smiles and knowing the two years they endured hiding is at times unbearable.

My heart breaks for the little Ruchel who just wanted to be held and told everything was going to be OK. I cannot imagine what it was like to lose her mother the way she did. Losing my own at 12 years old to Cancer was horrific.
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