David's Reviews > The Invisible Wall: A Love Story That Broke Barriers

The Invisible Wall by Harry Bernstein
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's review
Nov 22, 2008

it was amazing
Read in July, 2007

Harry Bernstein was 93 years old when he wrote this tender memoir about his childhood in Manchester, England in the years surrounding World War I. He narrates his family's story from a child's point of view growing up in a poor, working-class neighborhood. The Jewish families lived on one side of the street, and the Christians on the other with an "invisible wall" between. While they avoided the violence that would later oppress the Jews, they suffered persecution in more subtle ways (schoolyard anti-Semitism, also reflected among the adults). Occasional attempts to cross the wall, including romantic attractions between Christian boys and Jewish girls (one Harry's older sister), are fascinating. But some of the more poignant parts relate to the domestic struggles in Harry's home. He watches his drunken and overly authoratative father take out his frustration and anger on his daughters in scenes that are occasionally heart-wrenching; his mother struggling to hold the family together in their poverty and turmoil; his siblings trying to discover their individuality. And then the Jewish community as a whole trying to come to grips with changing times and traditions. This is a beautifully written and very touching memoir.
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