Monday, August 31, 2009

Review: Bending Toward the Sun: A Mother and Daughter Memoir

Recommended for: people who enjoy memoirs, readers interested in the psychological impact of WWII

Teaser quote: For decades, readers have wondered what Anne Frank might have become, had she lived. My mother's coming-of-age story may provide some indirect insight, and shed light on the long-term impact of the Holocaust, and other tragedies, on the children involved. (pg. 3)

My rating: 3.5 /5

My thoughts:
I think it’s important to start this off with WHY I chose this book. After the birth of my 1st son, I thought it would be nice to start a family tree. I realized that I didn’t know very much about my mom’s side of the family. My maternal Grandma passed away in the early 80’s leaving my Grandpa as my only known relative. My maternal grandparents, although not Jewish, were Eastern European and fled to Canada during the war…that’s all I knew. I called up my Grandpa to inquire about his past. Did he have any brothers or sisters etc. etc. I could tell by the quick, surface answers I was given that this was just too hard to talk about and left without learning too much. I chose Bending Toward the Sun as a way to fill in the gap of questions that I never had to chance to ask.

Told in three parts, Bending Toward the Sun is a unique opportunity to see the impact a truly horrific experience not only on the survivor but on generations to come. It begins with a glimpse into Rita’s happy childhood which leads into the terrifying experience that ultimately overpowered her ability to enjoy life. There are no grisly details of the Holocaust, just enough information for us to understand what she saw that haunted her forever. The focus of part two is Rita’s adolescence, starting her own family and trying to lead a normal life in America. I found this section a slow read, probably due to the fact that it mostly dealt with her depression and heartache. In reading the book jacket, I was in awe at how successful her daughter, Leslie, became and yet reading about her life in the book I was too caught up in the sadness and did not get the same vibe. The final part deals with the decade over which this book project took place. We see the impact on Rita’s grandchildren and an attempt at closure for all. Maybe I am too much of “a glass is half full” girl but I was expecting more of a fairytale, happily ever after ending which never came into fruition. I applaud Rita (and all contributors) for reliving such a dark part of their lives in hopes that others may learn from it. Thanks to Bending Toward the Sun, I feel a bit of closure.


Leslie Gilbert-Lurie, author of Bending Toward the Sun, will be on the Today show Tuesday, September 1st, the day of it's release (tomorrow!)

Enter my giveaway here


  1. I'm actually currently reading this one! It's fairly decent so far, and I like your teaser quote.

  2. I've been having some trouble getting into this one and keep putting it down. I'm still in the first section. The second part sounds difficult also. But I will keep trying

  3. This book sounds intriguing. I love the way a family conversation piqued your interest! Your grandpa must have a wealth of amazing stories, if they weren't so painful to remember.

  4. April & Deb ~ it started out strong (maybe I had ulterior motives when reading this part?) but I think I got draged down by the depression & couldn't bounce back

    Laughing Stars ~ I think now i understand why this is never discussed. It would be nice to know even just a bit of his happy childhood and my family roots.

  5. This sounds really interesting. Great review! Love the quote as well.

  6. Great review! I spent a year in high school studying the Holocaust and the impact on all the people involved. It was a stimulating class, and we spent a week traveling to talk to Holocaust survivors who shared their stories. I'll have to pick this book up

  7. Lizzy ~ I can't imagine the stories you heard!!! I think I would have left that class emotionally exhausted everyday :(

  8. Ok, I NEED to buy this one. I'm really into books set during the WWII era right now. This one seems amazing!