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Rita Lurie is a Holocaust survivor. Her story is remarkably similar to Anne Frank’s. She hid in an attic in Poland for two years at the very end of WWII. Her family’s hiding place was nowhere near as carefully-planned as the Frank family’s though. They fled Nazi soldiers in the night and eventually found a family friend who let them stay with him. Imagine 15 people, including children and a baby, hiding in an attic for two years with no food supply mapped out. The children couldn’t run around a make noise and be children. They had no heat source. They didn’t even have much light. They lived on what the men could forage at night. Needless to say, they were very sick and malnourished when they finally emerged. Rita was five when they went into hiding, but the experience left a deep and lasting mark on her psyche.
Now, where this memoir is different from others that I’ve read is that it doesn’t stop with Liberation. That’s only the beginning, in fact. How does such a horrific experience mark your life forever after? Also, how does it mark your children and their children? It’s not like you come out of hiding and return to a perfectly normal life.
I have to say that the first time I ever thought about these questions was when I read The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman. Spiegelman shows that his father was hard to live with, and sometimes it was because of his experiences as a Holocaust survivor. He’s a hoarder and a control freak. Spiegelman’s mom, also a survivor, was clinically depressed. That opened my eyes a little bit. So when I was offered this book for review, I jumped on it.
I was surprised by the ways that the Holocaust affected this family’s life. Rita was a little fearful to let her children out of her sight. Her children picked up on that, as children do, and became overly fearful as well. It’s even carrying on to the next generation.
There are also the cycles of depression. I had to admire Rita, because she is a fighter, but it seemed almost inevitable that the depression would come around for her again. She tries so hard, but how do you overcome something like the Holocaust? And how does your family react when you spiral down?
If, like me, you’re interested in the Holocaust but hadn’t really thought about the lasting effects in the survivors’ lives, pick this up. It was very readable and very thought-provoking.
Thanks to FSB Media for sending me a copy for review.
Read an excerpt.
Find author Leslie Gilbert-Lurie on her website.
Good Books and Good Wine says, “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.”
He Followed Me Home…Can I Keep Him rated it 3.5/5
Buy Bending Toward the Sun on