Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Review: Bending Toward the Sun by Leslie Gilbert-Lurie

ISBN #: 978-0-06-177672-4 (Softcover)
Page Count: 357
Copyright: 2010 (Softcover by Harper Perennial); 2009 (Hardcover by HarperCollins)

About the Author:
(Taken from inside book)

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.  Leslie 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 is also an honoree of the organization Facing History and Ourselves for her work as an author, educator, and child advocate.  She lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband, two children, and stepson.

(Taken from back cover)

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.

Rita Lurie was five years old when she was forced to flee her home in Poland to hide from the Nazis in a cramped, dark attic with fourteen members of her family.  Young Rita watched her younger brother and her mother die before her eyes.  But the tragedy of the Holocaust was only the beginning of Rita's story.

Decades later, Rita's daughter Leslie 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 that of her own daughter, Mikaela, as well.  The result is Bending Toward the Sun, a collaboration between mother and daughter that brings together the stories of three generations of a family to understand the legacy that unites, inspires, and haunts them all.

To view Leslie's website concerning this book, click here.

My Review:

I received this book from FSB Media in exchange for my review.

I normally try to steer clear of historical recounts, but when I read the summary for Bending Toward the Sun on the FSB Media website, it intrigued me.  To actually read about what occurred to an actual survivor of a terrible historical event and how it affected her future generations was something I couldn't pass up ... and I'm glad I didn't.

We've all heard of the story of Anne Frank when we were in school.  While terrifying, her story has lost its affect on me.  This book has restored my awe of the horrific events of the Holocaust.  To live through a time where a leader as powerfully evil as Hitler is beyond my imagination.  Although anything is possible and something like that COULD happen again ... it's hard to picture it actually taking place.

Reading the accounts of three generations of women who are either directly or inadvertently affected by the Holocaust has been enlightening.  Even though Leslie and her daughter, Mikaela, were not alive during the time of the Holocaust, they have been genetically disposed to the fear with which Rita now lives her life.  I began to wonder ... "How many generations is it going to take until an offspring is born in their family without a fear of life?"

Yes, bad things happen to good people.  Yes, there are evil people who will use others' differences for their own personal selfish gain.  While I understand the fear Rita has acquired concerning living, I don't understand how a person could let that fear control them every day.  My not understanding undoubtedly lies in the fact that I've not lived through a horrific event parallel to the Holocaust.  Or, in the fact that my immediate family has never lived through such an event.

In essence, this book has opened my eyes and given me a deeper look into and a deeper understanding of the Holocaust victims.  It has also reaffirmed my belief that we should never judge a person by how they look on the outside.  We should treat EVERYONE, no matter the race, color or religion, with respect because we never know what they've been through or what they're currently going through.  In the immortal words of John Lennon, "Give Peace a Chance."

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