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Publisher Description

This wonderfully charming memoir, written when the author was 93, 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.

“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.

Biographies & Memoirs
March 20
Random House Publishing Group
Penguin Random House LLC

Customer Reviews

Caligirl328 ,

Great read!

Highly recommend!

askinder ,

Poignant memoir

The author paints a picture of a time and place where poverty, war, and antisemitism made life in his neighborhood very difficult. And yet, there were enough happy memories to make him want to return there years later for a last visit. Very beautifully written.

prairieone ,

Best book ever!

This is one of the best books I've ever read! One of the very few books I literally could not put down. You won't believe it's a memoir! It reads like fiction. It definitely breaks the boring memoir stereotype. I really felt for the characters and felt like I was there. Seriously, just stop reading reviews already and read this book!

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