Back of the book: On the eve of World War I, in a small English mill town, Harry Bernstein’s family struggles to make ends meet. Harry’s father earns little money at the Jewish tailoring shop and brings home even less, preferring to spend his wages drinking and gambling. Harry’s mother, devoted to her children and fiercely resilient, survives on her dreams: new shoes for young Harry, her daughter’s marriage to the local rabbi. Then Harry’s older sister does the unthinkable: She falls in love with a Christian boy. But they are separated by an “invisible wall” that divides Jewish families on one side of the street from Christian families on the other. When Harry unwittingly discovers the secret affair, he must choose between the morals he’s been taught all his life, his loyalty to his selfless mother, and what he knows to be true in his own heart.
Harry Bernstein writes about his early years in such an engaging way that he makes reading about incredibly difficult times almost easy. The Invisible Wall is Harry’s memoir of his early years (pre-WW I) in England. Reading it, I had thoughts of Angela’s Ashes – there are a few similarities. I appreciated that he included photos of his family. Harry was ninety-six when he wrote the book. I read the paper back edition and he added an afterward in which he tells how he came to write his memoir. He also wrote The Dream which is about his life in the United States. I look forward to reading it soon.