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The Dream: A Memoir

4.12  ·  Rating Details ·  1,561 Ratings  ·  243 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
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 liked it  ·  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
BAM The Bibliomaniac
A more loving tribute to a mother I have never read. The author is brutally honest about his young adult life circumstances (his drunken father, his poverty, his beggar grandfather, etc), but his tenacity to overcome his circumstances becomes evident almost immediately. And no matter where his life leads him, he never forgets his mother or her dream.
I'd also like to mention that he grabs a dream job: reading books for MGM! Ah the life
Nov 07, 2015 Dana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Harry Bernstein wrote three memoirs in his 90's. This is the second one. And, I'm loving all 3! (I'm currently reading the last one.)

This second book takes place after WWI when Harry and his family finally move to America - his mother's dream. But, life didn't turn out exactly as she thought it would.

These stories are humorous and poignant and I love them all! A wonderful storyteller telling wonderful stories. His memory is incredible!

I've read a lot of books the past month & didn't record
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.
Jun 25, 2014 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 02, 2013 Melanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 04, 2014 Sharon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2014
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
Aug 13, 2016 MJ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 30, 2014 Sharon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved it!! I love memoirs and the way he writes flows beautifully! This was his follow up to The Invisible Wall, another great book. Reading about the years of depression and the many tragedies and obstacles that he, his family, and millions of others faced during those years makes my problems seem so small! And, in spite of all the hardship, people were able to find joy and solace in simple things: a walk in the park, listening to free music concerts in a mall, having tea and coffee with friend ...more
Jan 30, 2016 Jan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This memoir continues the story of the Bernstein family as they left industrial England and made their way in America. How do you make a living in Chicago or New York when you're the foreigner and the Depression has shaken the economy to its roots?

While many family members were not terribly successful, others made their way on perseverance and ingenuity (and maybe a bit of opportunity provided by Prohibition). Just the story of how Bernstein and his Rose enjoyed New York on pennies is worth the
May 15, 2015 Megan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading the Invisible Wall I looked forward to reading the next chapter in Harry Bernstein’s life. As the family continues to struggle to survive in 1920s England, their mother’s wish is answered when a letter containing steamship tickets for America arrives. While the move to America doesn’t fix the neglectful, mean spirited father or lessen Rose’s hatred, there are more opportunities for Harry and his siblings, plus they relatives around them. It is an interesting first hand account of l ...more
Bob Lake
May 27, 2009 Bob Lake rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-on-kindle
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!

Nov 17, 2011 Angela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 16, 2013 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not as good as the invisible wall, but enjoyed reading how he overcomes all the obstacles and how his life turns out
Dec 29, 2016 Isabel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book, published by Harry Bernstein at the age of 96. This memoir deals with his childhood and his mother's 'dream' to bring her children to North America for a better life. He hides nothing as the story of their immigration is told,including his alcoholic, abusive father, his nasty grandmother, his grandfather, who supports the family with a 'job' that everyone knows about but no one talks about, and the horrible places they're sometimes forced to live in Chicago and NYC. It's a bea ...more
Mr Bernstein's family story and his ability to tell it are a treasure! Loved reading about this time in America and specifically for an immigrant family in Chicago. Poignant, funny, surprising. He lays bare everyone's faults but it is still warm and, like his first story set when the family still lived in England, without bitterness.
Rob Wilkinson
Jan 02, 2017 Rob Wilkinson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To write such a captivating autobiography is a wonderful achievement, even more so in your 90s. Bernstein's large, mainly Jewish, family provides rich material. Not the most charismatic group of people, but one with a strong sense of family - sometimes looking after each other, sometimes feuding. Bernstein's narrative is gritty, with some emotional layering, but no old man's rose-tinted retrospect. I wonder how members of the Bernstein family living today view The Dream? Perhaps Harry diplomatic ...more
Cindy Deister
Oct 13, 2016 Cindy Deister rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent Memoir

I enjoyed reading this continuation of the author's life story. For every dark, depressing time he lived, a moment of hope was coming. The author writes that theme with a humble hand, although his strength was exceptional.
Tammy Wahl
Oct 10, 2016 Tammy Wahl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great memoir!
Dec 30, 2016 Kim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book!!!
Secondo libro e continuazione della saga della famiglia Bernstein.
Libro che a tratti ho trovato ripetitivo e a tratti al quanto interessante e il finale mi ha fatto piangere..
Non posso non menzionare nuovamente la grande figura di questa madre, di come sia riuscita anche nelle difficoltà a trasmettere sogni e speranze ai suoi figli..
Il "nonno" le permetterà di realizzare il suo sogno, l'America, pagandogli i biglietti per la traversata in nave e lei, orgogliosa come era, si era ripromessa di rip
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.

Apr 18, 2010 Joanna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 05, 2012 Annette rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 11, 2016 Kelley rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
did not finish this book..rather boring got to go 100
A continuation of Harry Bernstein's life in volume 2 of his memoirs, this one on the challenges to the family of the trip from England to the U.S. and then assimilation beginning in 1922. Harry, the curious one, seemed to do well in fitting in. Like his older brother, Joe, he figured out what he needed to do to blend in best. Rose, who was so unbending, constantly fought life to get it on her terms, something she never accomplished and no doubt died an embittered and unsatisfied woman. Harry is ...more
Jan 27, 2013 Terry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 27, 2009 Liza rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 27, 2016 Beverly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This second installment of the amazing life of Harry Bernstein was another good read, although it was filled with the great strains and sorrows that accompanied the lives most during the Great Depression. It reflects on the time just before and after his family's immigration to America. Through every story highlighted and every situation retold, Harry attempts to portray "The Dream" his mother had of a better life in America, and how it floated before them in imagined glory to only burst like a ...more
Apr 24, 2015 Nicole rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Dream is unlike previous memoir's I have read, it reads a lot like a novel, a very well done novel.

Mr. Bernstein did a wonderful job painting a picture of America in the 1920's just before the Depression hit and everything was going well for people in the land of opportunity. Once the Depression did hit Mr. Bernstein did talk about hardships but he also mentioned times of happiness, the drive to work and not have things for free, and still seeing America as the land of opportunity so despit
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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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