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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—Rita, her daughter, Leslie, and her granddaughter, Mikaela—the memoir provides powerful and inspiring evidence of the resilience of the human spirit, relevant to every culture in every corner of the world. Unimaginably devastating and incredibly uplifting, this firsthand account of survival and healing offers a poignant message of hope in our own uncertain times.
Rita Lurie was five years old when she fled her home in Poland to hide from the Nazis. From the summer of 1942 to 1944, she and fourteen members of her family shared a nearly silent existence in a cramped, dark attic, subsisting on scraps of food. Young Rita watched helplessly as her young brother and then her mother died by her side. Motherless and stateless, Rita and her surviving family spent the next five years wandering throughout Europe, waiting for a country to accept them.
Decades later, Rita 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 her mother's childhood to discover how Rita's pain has affected not only Leslie's life and outlook but also that of her children. Their collaboration produced this unforgettable story, which reveals how deeply the Holocaust remains in the hearts and minds of survivors and their descendants.
A Note From the Publisher
“The lasting impact of the Holocaust on a survivor and her daughter emerges in this joint account… The voices and experiences expressed are valuable.”
“[An] affecting memoir…. Vivid…. Riveting…. An amazing story of wartime survival.”
“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
“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
“This beautifully written memoir is so timely and relevant to today’s world of rising antisemitism and hatred. Readers of all ages will be inspired to fight against prejudice and stand up for what’s right. As the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, the book also reaffirmed that intergenerational relationships are complicated and that the trauma that is passed down is real and not unique.”
—Beth Kean, CEO Holocaust Museum LA
“Bending Toward the Sun is a beautifully written, gripping, intergenerational memoir that is hard to put down. More than a compelling story about survival during the Holocaust, this is a book that any parent should read for its insights about how hopes, dreams and fears are passed down through a family’s generations. At its essence, it is a story about hope and enduring love."
—John B. Emerson, US Ambassador to Germany, 2013-17
“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, in which the expected push-and-pull of the mother-daughter relationship is warped by brutal history, illuminates both the strength and fragility of that bond and of the human spirit.”
—The Associated Press, Huffington Post & The San Diego Union-Tribune
“Memoirs can be perilous for writer and reader alike, and Leslie Gilbert-Lurie tackles the genre’s pitfalls head-on by recreating both her mother’s life followed by the writer’s look at her own life.”
—Arlene B. Soifer, Jewish Book Council
“Every parent, grandparent, and child needs to read this book together! Bonding through understanding the past brings light and impacts what we pass on to the next generation. Today, this incredible story of the Holocaust and its aftermath could not be more relevant. Prejudice, fear, demonization of the 'other,' and the complicit inaction of others tragically endures in the world today. How lucky for those who read this book to see how history of the human heart can subconsciously be passed through three generations. The gift of this encounter is how we warm each other’s destinies with love and truly bond with understanding.”
—Nancy Rubin, former US Ambassador to the Commission on Human Rights & first Chair of National Mental Health Awareness Campaign
“Bending Toward the Sun is not only a riveting account of one woman's bravery during the Holocaust, it's an unflinching examination of how the past never really stays in the past. Through this captivating mother-daughter memoir, Gilbert-Lurie illustrates how the trauma of surviving perhaps the most devastating chapter in human history leaves its mark on every generation. Her family's story is increasingly relevant today as we witness the breakdown of many of the societal norms we once took for granted. Anti-Semitism and racism are once again on the rise. Yes, the human spirit is resilient and yes, we will survive. But as Gilbert-Lurie warns, our children may pay the price.”
—Yadin Kaufmann, Israeli Social Entrepreneur and Sadara Ventures Co-Founder