The Invisible Wall (Biography) by Harry Bernstein

The Invisible Wall

The Invisible Wall

Harry Bernstein (Adult Biography)

“It was a quiet, little street, hardly noticeable among all the other larger streets, but what distinguished it from all others was the fact that we lived on one side, and they on the other.  We were the Jews and they were the Christians.”

Harry Bernstein describes growing up on a street in the English mill town of Lancashire—one of two sides of the same street separated by an invisible wall, but bonded by poverty.  He writes with fearlessness and bittersweet honesty about his selfless and strong mother who tries to make ends meet with the money left over from his father’s constant gambling and drinking.  The reader is taken on an emotional rollercoaster that goes from tragedy and despair to triumph and delight.  We cringe at his father’s heartlessness and disinterest in his own family, while we hold out hope for his mother who continues to wait for that elusive steamship ticket to America.

At times, Bernstein’s story is painful to read as dream after dream and opportunity after opportunity are unmercifully shattered.  If this was a work of fiction, one could justifiably harbor resentment toward the author for his unusually cruel treatment of his characters.  Knowing that this story is true makes it all the more unforgettable.  This book truly took my breath away and kept me engaged from the very first page to the last.

The Invisible Wall made Harry Bernstein a first-time author at the tender age of 96.  After reading his incredible and compelling story, all I have to say is, “Better late than never, Harry.”

Rating: 5/5

A Cup of Tea by Amy Ephron

A Cup of Tea

A Cup of Tea

Amy Ephron (Adult Fiction)

A Cup of Tea is based on the short story (of the same title) by Katherine Mansfield.  It is set in New York City during World War I and primarily centers around three characters: wealthy and privileged Rosemary Fell, her fiancée and self-made shipping mogul Philip Alsop, and homeless, penniless, and “astonishingly pretty” Eleanor Smith.  When Rosemary happens to see Eleanor huddled beneath a street light one rainy evening, she offers to take the destitute woman home for a cup of tea.  This seemingly innocuous and kind gesture sets events in motion that will have unintended and unimaginable effects on all three of their lives.

This book has good bones, but unfortunately there is little to no flesh and blood to go along with it.  The story lacks depth and feeling and so little attention is paid to the main characters’ development, that by the end of the book, I neither cared nor sympathized with any of them.  By skimping on details and providing no thoughtful backstory for Rosemary, Philip, or Eleanor, Ephron falls far short of delivering her readers the love story that this book professes to be.  Although this story had so much potential and possibility, this particular cup of tea did nothing more than leave me unsatisfied and wanting something else.

Rating: 3/5