The Invisible Wall by Harry Bernstein
A Love Story That Broke Barriers

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“There are places that I have never forgotten. A little cobbled street in a smoky mill town in the North of England has haunted me for the greater part of my life. It was inevitable that I should write about it and the people who lived on both sides of its ‘Invisible Wall.’ ”

The narrow street where Harry Bernstein grew up, in a small English mill town, was seemingly unremarkable. It was identical to countless other streets in countless other working-class neighborhoods of the early 1900s, except for the “invisible wall” that ran down its center, dividing Jewish families on one side from Christian families on the other. Only a few feet of cobblestones separated Jews from Gentiles, but socially, it they were miles apart.

On the eve of World War I, Harry’s family struggles to make ends meet. His 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 that might secure Harry’s admission to a fancy school; that her daughter might marry the local rabbi; that the entire family might one day be whisked off to the paradise of America.

Then Harry’s older sister, Lily, does the unthinkable: She falls in love with Arthur, a Christian boy from across the street.

When Harry unwittingly discovers their 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.

A wonderfully charming memoir written when the author was ninety-three, The Invisible Wall vibrantly brings to life an all-but-forgotten time and place. It is a moving tale of working-class life, and of the boundaries that can be overcome by love.

From the Hardcover edition.

About Harry Bernstein

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Ninety-six-year-old Harry Bernstein emigrated to the United States with his family after World War I. He has written all his life but started writing The Invisible Wall only after the death of his wife, Ruby. He has been published in "My Turn" in Newsweek. Bernstein lives in Brick, New Jersey, where he is working on another book.From the Hardcover edition.
Published March 20, 2007 by Ballantine Books. 340 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Travel, Self Help, Romance, Parenting & Relationships. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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When he is four years old, living in a Lancashire mill town, the author serves as a sort of Huck Finn intermediary, carrying secret love messages between two local lovers (Jewish girl, Christian boy).

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The New York Times

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In Mr. Bernstein’s hands, the small events of family life and the daily dramas on the street take on a shimmering, timeless quality.

Apr 04 2007 | Read Full Review of The Invisible Wall: A Love St...


Harry Bernstein is what one would call, 'a late bloomer.' Mr. Bernstein did not come to the eye of critical acclaim until the age of 96, but his first memoir, 'The Invisible Wall' was more than worth the wait.

Jun 29 2011 | Read Full Review of The Invisible Wall: A Love St...

Entertainment Weekly

The dueling halves of the street where Harry Bernstein grew up in WWI-era northern England shared little — besides paralyzing poverty and religious fervor.

Mar 16 2007 | Read Full Review of The Invisible Wall: A Love St...

A Novel Menagerie

But, the effect of the poverty, the diet, and the alcoholic father was repetitious to the prior read so I don’t think that it gave me the same impact that it would have if I had read them months apart.

Apr 22 2009 | Read Full Review of The Invisible Wall: A Love St...

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