The Dream: A Memoir
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The Dream: A Memoir

4.13 of 5 stars 4.13  ·  rating details  ·  1,104 ratings  ·  197 reviews
“Dreams played an important part in our lives in those early days in England. Our mother invented them for us to make up for all the things we lacked and to give us some hope for the future.”

During the hard and bitter years of his youth in England, Harry Bernstein’s selfless mother struggles to keep her six children fed and clothed. But she never stops dreaming of a better...more
ebook, 272 pages
Published September 23rd 2008 by Ballantine Books (first published 2008)
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K.D. Absolutely
Jul 19, 2010 K.D. Absolutely rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Roseamongthorns who is a fan of my lawyer-brother
Recommended to K.D. by: Attorney Joselito introduced The Invisible to me
Shelves: memoirs
Born in 1910, Harry Bernstein is now 100 years old. I googled him prior to writing this review but it seems that he is still alive. The Dream (2008) is my second book by him. Last year, my lawyer-brother encouraged me to read his The Invisible Wall (2007) and I gave it a five star rating. The Dream is the sequel of The Invisible Wall. Both of course are memoirs. Simple straight life stories that pierce one's heart. Including mine.

In the book's Epilogue, Harry was asked why he is only writing mem...more
Sharon
Harry Bernstein has lead a very interesting and relevant life. I'm not sure exactly what I mean by that but I think it's right. To be published at 96 is an accomplishment not to be trifled with. Harry wrote 3 books, The Invisible Wall, The Dream and The Golden Willow, all outstanding.

This particular book covers the years of Harry's adolescence, living with his abusive, alcoholic father, the conditions in England during and after World War I and then of course, the great depression the US. While...more
Bob Lake
Perhaps this is "Angela's Ashes" redux, but it is a heartwarming memoir of the first 30 years of the life of a gentleman who is now 98. I tells of the glories and disasters of family life and of the mistakes we all make in our relationships.

This is a must-read.

NOTE TO KINDLE USERS: This has text-to-speech disabled!

Terry Earley
Very readable memoir focusing on his maturing love and respect for his mother and for his wife, Ruby. Also very interesting so see the evolution of his feelings and knowledge of his family, especially of his father and grandfather.

When a 98 year old reviews his life, there are lessons for us to learn.
MJ
I didn’t make the connection while I was reading it, but as I clicked off my kindle having finished the last sentence of Bernstein’s charming account of his childhood, and relation to his mother I couldn’t help comparing it to Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes. They both dealt with childhood poverty, immigration, alcoholic irresponsible fathers and comically controlling grandmothers. I loved both books but I kept asking myself why they were so different. It was The Dream; Harry’s mother was the one...more
Angela
Not quite as good as Invisible Wall, but I'm glad I read it so I'd know how their life went after they came to America. So sad that "the dream" never really came true for his mother.
Carol
Jun 19, 2014 Carol rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Margaret Lint, Gail Marsh
This memoir published when Bernstein was 98 years old, piqued my interest because I thought if he can write a book at that age, maybe there's still hope for me. I was seeking inspiration, some kind of catalyst to get me off my stump. Turns out I like the book, regardless of my self-interested motivation for reading it. Bernstein recalls his family's struggles immigrating from Poland in the early 20th century, expecting the "American dream," only to find the country spiraling into the Great Depre...more
Julie
Not as good as the invisible wall, but enjoyed reading how he overcomes all the obstacles and how his life turns out
Michael Jenkins
Harry Bernstein desires one thing, to travel to America and explore all the opportunities. For years, he has heard about the countless ways to make a living there, so when he finally gets the opportunity to go with his family, he is overjoyed. Although he is elated to finally go after his dreams, his mother wants his drunken and bitter dad to go along with them for the ride. Harry is unsure about having his company, thus his hopes are shattered when his Father does not share the same sentiments...more
Melanie
Dreams. Everyone in life has dreams. For Harry’s mother, her dreams were as simple as having a parlor that contained a carpet, furniture and piano. Another one of her dreams was coming to America, so her family could have a better life. In the memoir The Dream, all of these dreams come true…but in life, dreams are often shattered.

This true life story is the second book, which centers around Harry Bernstein and his family, who set sail to America from a poor working town in Lancashire, England. T...more
Annette
My sister sent this as a present to me. I was so excited to move from the first book to this one. Wow is all I can say! There are so many twists and turns to this story. The father is in his life, no now the father isn't. Its wonderful and keeps you guessing. It makes me think about writing about one's family. What one person goes through and how a family or person overcomes hardships and how it can encourage someone else. The wonderful story continues! Can hardly wait to finish it.

So much angst...more
Joanna
Last part of the book helps me understand so much more than I ever could about my seasoned lady friends. Thank you so much for our Saturday night card games! You have so much wisdom and love to share with me.


"I live alone now in a house that Ruby and I bought when we retired. ...there is a lake just across the street from where I live round which Ruby and I used to walk every day, morning and evening, with her hand in mine. We'd finally come to rest on a bench facing the lake with a tree shading...more
Grace
Harry Bernstein's sophomore memoir, "The Dream: A Memoir," picks up where "The Invisible Wall," leaves off: his mother still wishing for his father's family in America to send steamship tickets so they too could emigrate to America. Quickly, Harry's mother's dream is realized and the entire family, except for Lily, newly married to the Christian boy Arthur from across the street and with a new son, Jimmy, leave for Liverpool to catch the steamship for Quebec, Canada, then the train to Chicago.

H...more
Rachel
This series is fantastic. This is the second book in a trilogy. The language is a little courser. The father has a temper and uses language in his outbursts. This is the story of Harry Bernstein's life and family. His mother. Oh his mother!! My heart just hurts for her! Her life was so hard and sad and difficult. I'm grateful knowing that this is a true story and she is a real person that her life in eternity is better. Much better but laws, you just feel for her.
Mlg
The sequel to The Invisible Wall, Bernstein and his siblings get tickets to sail from their poverty stricken life in the UK to America. Settling in Chicago in the 1920's, he describes the difficulties immigrants faced. This was made more difficult by his alcoholic father who was always spoiling for a fight. Bernstein tries to get his mother away from him, but is unsuccessful. He ends up in New York, begins his career as a writer and gets married.
Terry
I would certainly recommend this book, and very much recommend that it follows the reading of The Invisible Wall which tells the story of the earlier days in the author's life.

Harry and his family finally arrive in America, the answer to his mother's dream. How their lives unfold is, of course, less than dream-like.

This is the story of a struggling family, with difficult lives and relationships. Real people in real times. Little adventure, little excitement and few happy endings. But this gem o...more
BC or Brenda
This is a very interesting book written by a 98 year old man remembering his coming to America when he was a 12 year old child. This is the second book of the series, the first being: The Invisible Wall: A Love Story That Broke Barriers. Read them out of order and I can't wait to get the first book so I can read it.

This is a wonderful book of courage and going forward no matter how difficult the world is.
Liza
This was the sequel to The Invisible Wall, which was just a fantastic book. This one was almost as great, but not quite. I just can't quite put my finger on why. I read it in 24 hours, so I guess that says something about how good it is! I continue to be amazed by Harry's life story, although I only know it up through his 30's, and he's in his 90's now. As much as I love Harry, I wrestled with feelings of frustration at his mother at times and with feelings of anger towards his sister Rose, but...more
Rachel Melville
The second of three memoirs written by 96 year old Harry Bernstein. I read the first, "The Invisible Wall" in my Bookworms Book Club and knew I wanted to continue on with Harry's life story. Well written and captivating story. Next I will read "The Golden Willow" about Harry's life with his soulmate, Ruby.
Negin
Read it in one day. That should explain how great this book is! I liked this one even more than the first one – The Invisible Wall – as if that’s even possible, since I love that one so much. Harry was 96 when he wrote this beautiful memoir.
Steven Swanger
This is a sequel to The Invisible Wall, which talks about his early life as a Jew in working class England, picking up when they moved to US. Well worth reading, esp if you've already read the other.
Kathy
Well told story of the difficult life of Harry Bernstein and his family. The "dream" is initiated by his mother in the face of one disappointment after another. When they finally realize their dream by coming to America, things are not as wonderful as they expected. The writing style is matter of fact and yet brings the images- sights, sounds and even smells- of his experience alive to the reader.
Rachel
This is a beautifully told memoir of a Harry Bernstein's youth in the 1920's and 30's. His family emigrated from Lancashire, England to Chicago in 1922, hoping to avoid the poverty that was so difficult for them in struggling England.

Harry's mother told them of her dream, her hope, for her family to move to America and be successful from the time he was very small. Though it was the mother's hope, the family could only be redeemed by hard work and by his father choosing to give up his drunkenne...more
Shelly
This book was a little shorter and courser (there were several bits of bad language and a mild sex "scene") than The Invisible Wall. I didn't enjoy it quite as much. Still, I felt it was a good read and I loved hearing about Harry's life outside of England and what happened and he and his siblings got older, got married, and moved away from home.

I'm definitely intrigued by Mr. Bernstein and his writing and will seek out Golden Willow to read about his relationship with his wife. It's very obviou...more
Cuggiah
Forse la storia non ? nulla di particolare, ma come scrive questo novantenne !!!
tutto scorre piacevolissimamente e ci si sente catapultati nel periodo e nell'ambiente della giovinezza dell'autore.
Mai noioso mai stancante.. vero e sincero. Un pezzo di vita e di storia da non perdere.

Merged review:

Forse la storia non ha nulla di particolare, ma come scrive questo novantenne !!!
tutto scorre piacevolissimamente e ci si sente catapultati nel periodo e nell'ambiente della giovinezza dell'autore.
Mai no...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
This picks up where The Invisible Wall left off. It's every bit as well written as that first book, but the family's life in America just wasn't as interesting to me. I think that's probably because the neighbors they had in England were so much more colorful. I'm still glad I read this one so I could learn how things worked out for them after they got the longed-for tickets to America and made the journey to a new life. Sorry to say, it wasn't as easy and prosperous as they'd dreamed, but Harry...more
Heather Smith
Had to find out what happens to Harry next. This was as fine a read as his first novel….
Ruth
This book is semi-bittersweet. It was a quick read, my mother lent it to me, she liked it enough to want it back.

The author was born to Polish Jews who had emigrated to England. The title refers to his mother's dream--to move to America. The family is large, the father is a mean drunk, it is Angela's Ashes with out the humor. They do get to America, Mr. Bernstein is about 12, it is the 1920s Chicago.

This memoir is a good chronicle of the challenges of immigrants. The same, desperate existence i...more
Lncropper
I really liked this book, while I was hating the difficult times people went through in the 1920s. The author always wanted to write novels, but did not do so until he was 90!! This book is autobiographical and probably could be true of 1000s of families who migrated from England to the U.S. and landed in Chicago or New York. It was a tough world for them, and some of the family members contributed to the problem rather than to the solutions. I enjoy reading about real people and real situations...more
Meg
So poignant. Wonderful re-telling of his story of coming to the US.
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Harry Louis Bernstein was a British-born American writer whose first published book, The Invisible Wall: A Love Story That Broke Barriers, dealt with his abusive, alcoholic father, the anti-Semitism he encountered growing up in a Lancashire mill town (Stockport - now part of Greater Manchester) in northwest England, and the Romeo and Juliet-like romance experienced by his sister and her Christian...more
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