Have you ever wondered when watching Schindler’s List or The Defiance, or reading Anne Frank’s Diary about the absolute terror and fragility that Jewish people went through as the Germans invaded Poland and other countries trying to eradicate as many if not all of the Jewish people from the planet?
In this new mother / daughter memoir Bending Towards The Sun, they talk about their stories, and the subsequent anxieties that have afflicted the family as much as three generations after it had occurred. Rita tells the story just weeks before they were ordered to report to the train station seemingly to be sent off to a concentration camp and how they escaped and hid in a neighbours farm loft for over 2 years, the death of her mother and young infant brother while being with other family members, and subsequent life moving from country, finally settling in Italy until their visas to the United States were approved.
Shortly after arriving in Italy, her father married another woman and spent nearly a year in hospital battling rickets and tuberculosis. The struggle to build a new life in the states once they arrived, the closeness of family she once enjoyed to being somewhat of an outcast, her cousins more Americanized then she was. The dreams and impossibilities of being as prosperous as they were in Poland to be starting all over again in a country that they didn’t know much about, the hard work to just make it and the sheer will to survive, where her anxieties should have subsided, but being in a situation such as they were would they go away completely?
It was interesting to see that the actual anxieties and debilitating depression that Rita has suffered for many decades actually being passed down to generation after generation. As Laurie was growing up, it was evident in her as well, even since she was born in America and raising her own children, how it was evident in them as well. Was it a matter of parenting skills, or genetically passed on. Suffice to say, It made me wonder as well.
This book had taken 10 years to make its debut. Every day, mortifying fear, anxiety, and the will to survive have you holding your breath as Rita tells her story, gathering up her courage to finally talk about it with the other family members who also were in hiding to be able to have them talk about what it felt for them, and how they feel now. The amount of trauma they experienced as a result of the German soldiers walking past, not making a sound so that detection wouldn’t happen and their friends who his them for so long wouldn’t be killed.
The book is broken up into three parts – Part 1 is Rita telling her story in her own words and recollections, Part 2 is Laurie talking about how her mother raised her children, her anxieties and fears growing up, Part 3 is talking about Laurie’s daughter and her anxieties, and summing up the family and how they felt and deal with the atrocities on a daily basis.
It is just amazing that these people survived this awful ordeal and had the courage to be able to re open those wounds, to open the doors on such a sad time in history and share it with us.
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