Authors: Leslie Gilbert-Lurie with Rita Lurie
Book Website: bendingtowardthesun.com
Book Description from Amazon:
“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 corner of the world. By turns unimaginably devastating and incredibly uplifting, this firsthand account of survival and psychological healing offers a strong, poignant message of hope in our own uncertain times.
Rita Lurie was five years old when she was forced to flee her home in Poland to hide from the Nazis. From the summer of 1942 to mid-1944, she and fourteen members of her family shared a nearly silent existence in a cramped, dark attic, subsisting on scraps of raw food. Young Rita watched helplessly as first her younger brother then her mother died before her eyes. Motherless and stateless, Rita and her surviving family spent the next five years wandering throughout Europe, waiting for a country to accept them. The tragedy of the Holocaust was only the beginning of Rita’s story.
Decades later, Rita, now a mother herself, is the matriarch of a close-knit family in California. Yet in addition to love, Rita unknowingly passes to her children feelings of fear, apprehension, and guilt. Her daughter Leslie, an accomplished lawyer, media executive, and philanthropist, began probing the traumatic events of her mother’s childhood to discover how Rita’s pain has affected not only Leslie’s life and outlook but also her own daughter, Mikaela’s.
A decade-long collaboration between mother and daughter, Bending Toward the Sun reveals how deeply the Holocaust remains in the hearts and minds of survivors, influencing even the lives of their descendants. It also sheds light on the generational reach of any trauma, beyond the initial victim. Drawing on interviews with the other survivors and with the Polish family who hid five-year-old Rita, this book brings together the stories of three generations of women—mother, daughter, and granddaughter—to understand the legacy that unites, inspires, and haunts them all.“
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 like I was part of the story.
What I found especially intriguing was that the psychological trauma of the Holocaust has managed to weave into the fabric of the family even two generations later. I can attest to the fact that a parent’s psychological trauma has a real and lasting impact on their own children’s lives, even though the trama happened before their children were born. I am able to relate in a very strong way to this part of the story and I felt myself saying “Oh my gosh – I’m not the only one who feels/thinks/does that!”
I feel very strongly about this story and I highly recommend this to everyone out there. This book will have a lasting impact on me.
Please stop by tomorrow for an except from the book!
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