I wish a very Happy Birthday to an author whose memoir I finished reading this morning. The Invisible Wall was published when Harry Bernstein was 96 years old. He’s gone on to write more books, and today he turns 100.

I don’t read many memoirs, but this one (recommended by Novel Journey) had me on page one. It tells the story of a street, one side Jewish, one side Christian, in an English mill town in the early 1900s, beginning when the author was four or five years old. The book’s subtitle, A Love Story That Broke Barriers, provides a huge clue as to the underlying power of the book.

From the back cover:

“Harry Bernstein returns home and, magically, takes us with him. Captivated by its dancing prose and descriptions of neighborhood life, we experience with the child Harry all the wonder, thrill, and heartbreak of being a working-class kid learning to navigate the balkanized world of Christians and Jews within a single English mill town. Bernstein gives us a people’s history, a street-level perspective on a world that might otherwise have been lost, with crucial lessons that will endure throughout time.” ~ Michael Patrick MacDonald, author of All Souls.

Harry Bernstein has published two more books. The Dream and The Golden Willow.

Happy Birthday, dear Harry. Your book opened up a whole new world for me, and an era I knew very little about has come alive. A fitting gift to celebrate 100 years of living!

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