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Bending Toward the Sun Summary and Reviews

Bending Toward the Sun

A Mother and Daughter Memoir

by Leslie Gilbert-Lurie

Bending Toward the Sun by Leslie Gilbert-Lurie X
Bending Toward the Sun by Leslie Gilbert-Lurie
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  • Published in USA  Sep 2009
    368 pages
    Genre: Biography/Memoir

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Book Summary

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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Although the voices and experiences expressed are valuable, the writing is adequate at best, with none of the luminosity of Anne Frank." - Publishers Weekly

"A flawed memoir, but an amazing story of wartime survival." - Kirkus Reviews

""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

"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

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A writer, lawyer, and former executive at NBC, Leslie Gilbert-Lurie is a member and former president of the Los Angeles County Board of Education and a teacher of Holocaust studies. A founding board member and past president of the nonprofit Alliance for Children's Rights, she has worked at a major Los Angeles law firm, served as a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals law clerk, and is a member of the board of directors for several nonprofit organizations, including the Los Angeles Music Center. Recently Leslie was appointed by the mayor of Los Angeles to a panel to devise a new cultural plan for the city. She is a recipient of the American Jewish Congress's Tzedek Award for Outstanding Commitment to Civil Rights, Civil Liberties, and Justice, and the Alliance for Children's Rights Child Advocate of the Year Award. She lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband, two children, and stepson.

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