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Bending Toward the Sun: A Mother and Daughter Memoir    by Leslie Gilbert-Lurie & Rita Lurie order for
Bending Toward the Sun
by Leslie Gilbert-Lurie
Order:  USA  Can
Harper, 2009 (2009)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Leslie McKee

This powerful memoir - told in three parts spanning three generations - was written for the purpose of helping 'others better understand the Holocaust and its impact and hopefully ... also raise awareness as to the potential long-range complications resulting from other tragedies taking place today, around the world.'

Part one is Rita's (Ruchel's) story, detailing two years spent hiding in the attic of a Polish farmer and his wife, Stashik and Maria Grajolski. In the summer of 1942, at the age of five, Rita and fourteen members of her family went into hiding after receiving orders from the Gestapo to report to the train station for deportation during World War II. Left to survive on scraps of food and with no contact with the outside world, Rita saw family members killed and watched family members die in the attic. Rita learned to detach at an early age. Her journey to America is chronicled, including her father's marriage to an Auschwitz survivor and Rita's own marriage to Frank Lurie.

Part two is Leslie's story. Leslie is a media executive as well as an accomplished lawyer. However, Rita unknowingly passed on feelings of fear, anxiety and mistrust of adults. As an adult, Leslie visits Poland, where she is welcomed by Maria Grajolski and her children. Leslie is able to see the very attic where her mother spent two years of her childhood.

Part three integrates all three generations: Rita, Leslie and Michaela (Leslie's daughter). With encouragement from Rita, Leslie decides to tell her story, based on Rita's memories and interviews with family members. Rita wanted to honor her parents and leave behind a legacy.

Rita's story is one of inspiration. While there are not a lot of Holocaust-specific details, it does shed light on the toll that the Holocaust had on millions of Jewish families. Rita's story is an important one that must be shared.

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