Book Review: Bending Toward The Sun by Rita Lurie and Leslie Gilbert Lurie
If the sins of the father are visited upon the son, then are the sorrows of the mother to be carried on by the daughter? Reading Bending Toward The Sun by Leslie Gilbert-Lurie has made me ponder this. Bending Toward The Sun starts out with the narration of Rita, Leslie’s mother. Rita and some of her family members survived the Holocaust by hiding in the attic of a family friend. Rita’s tale is fascinating, I can’t help but ache for her. To be honest, I did cry a bit while reading her story. Eventually Leslie takes up the narration, and the rest of the memoir is about how Rita’s Holocaust survivor status has affected her life. For instance, Leslie experience severe separation anxiety growing up. She also felt pressured to become an overachiever.
I think the writing could have been a bit better, but I realize that Lurie isn’t a writer. She’s a television executive/consultant. I guess I don’t expect the narrative to be as good as that of someone who writes for a living. Interspersed throughout the book were photographs which I felt would have been less awkward if there had been some pages in the middle for them, or an appendix.
Reading Bending Toward The Sun has made me think about how some may perceive the Holocaust. Obviously, we all have learned about the horrors during the time period. What about after? I mean, do we picture those who have lived through hell as ambling back home and living the same life as before. I suppose I make that mistake from time to time. Rather, surviving the Holocaust had a lasting mental effect on Rita Lurie, who battled depression her whole life. It sucks that something like this robbed someone of something so precious, childhood. I understand Rita wanted to give her children the best possible childhood, but it seems her neurosis also affected her children. After finishing this book, I wouldn’t mind reading more about the children of Holocaust survivors, as it will help to expand my understanding of the impact of such a tragedy.
I would suggest a glass of kosher wine while reading this book. Drink to l’chaim, drink to hope and strength in darkness. While much of Bending Toward the Sun is dark, it’s ultimately about the strength of family ties and how much the past forms what we are today.