The narrow street on which Harry grew up appeared identical to countless other working-class English neighborhoods, except for the invisible wall that ran down the center of the street, dividing the Jewish families on one side from the Christians on the other. The geographical distance may have been yards, but socially, it was miles. Families on either side did not speak or meet. But when Harry's older sister fell for the boy across the street, Harry became a go-between for the lovers, crossing the great divide to hide their secret. When the truth inevitably came out, Harry had to decide, at a very young age, what he believed was morally right.
©2007 Harry Bernstein; (P)2007 Blackstone Audio Inc.
"Young Harry serves as a wide-eyed guide to a world since dismantled....True to a child's experience, it is the details of domestic life that illuminate the tale." (Publishers Weekly)
"A groundbreaking story of family secrets and forbidden love told in plain, beautiful prose through the eyes of a young Jewish boy....the chapters are tense with danger and with tenderness." (Booklist)
"In Mr. Bernstein's hands, the small events of family life and the daily dramas on the street take on a shimmering, timeless quality." (The New York Times)
I was totally engrossed in this book, listening to it every chance I could. It brought alive for me the British world of poor, immigrant Jews from Eastern Europe much as Call It Sleep did for Jews on the Lower East Side in New York. However, it should appeal to any reader, regardless of their faith.
The reader added to the enjoyment. My only criticism, and it is minor, is that the production team could have taken some care to ensure that the reader pronounced the Yiddish and Hebrew terms with more accuracy.
If you liked Angela's Ashes you will love this book ! Cannot wait for the follow
on about Mr. Bernstein's life in America. Beautifully told story about life in early 20th century England. Who knew that there was a thriving Jewish community outside of London
I liked this book except for the swearing.
This true story made me realize that no matter what your religious up bringing we all have prejudices,sometimes due to a lack of tolerance or just plain ignorance. When W.W.I began only then did the adults in the community seem to sincerely care about one another as human beings, and forget their religious differences when their children started coming home either disabled or dead.
A must read for anyone who is interested in religion,history and/or interfaith relationships.
I really enjoyed listening to this audiobook. I think the narrator does a great job. I have read another review that points out that the pronounciation of the jewish terms is not accurate, but I do not know about that, for me the reading is good, not too fast, not too slow.
The content is very interesting, the life in a jewish community in London in the 1910's as viewed from a boy's point of view, kind of like Angela's Ashes. It is amazing as an author's first novel. Of course it is not his first novel, it is just his first published novel, he was a professional writer for many years, and a reader before that. He was more than 90 when he started writing this book, and two more followed. As this one leaves you wanting more, I keep hoping The Dream, which continues this story, will one day become available for us in audio. The Golden Willow is available, and I also enjoyed it very much.
This book is going on my list of all-time favorites!! As others have said, it is very similar to Angela's Ashes, showing the poverty and related struggles of this era and people. But it is oh so different, so don't feel that if you have read one you will not enjoy another.
I loved the characters, I loved the stories. I loved the narration. I loved the ending and do want to hear more. Probably the only negative I have is that I was unsure of the timing until the end. I wasn't sure if the war was WWI or WWII.
I was hoping for an Angela's Ashes-type experience, but the main character was not as engaging. The writing was "ehh" so I abandoned the book.
Rating scale: 5=Loved it, 4=Liked it, 3=Ok, 2=Disappointed, 1=Hated it. I look for well developed characters, compelling stories.
I enjoyed this gentle memoir of Harry Bernstein's early childhood, living on an impoverished bicultural street in World War I England, but found little new ground was covered. The territory is familiar, with elements of "Romeo and Juliet", "Fiddler on the Roof", and "How Green was My Valley". While there are unsympathetic characters (on both sides of the street), the threat level as described seems somewhat low in spite of the author's report of feeling terrified - of his father, of the gentile bullies lying in wait after school, even the horrors of the war seem to have soft edges. I think for this to be a 5-star read Harry would have to give a stronger accounting of the more challenging characters - particularly his father and his sister, Rose. Perhaps writing the memoir eight decades after the events in question changes the author’s perspective of the import of certain events and behaviors.
What made the story enjoyable was the fondness the author had for his childhood home, in spite of the daily struggle with poverty and anti-Semitism, and his ability to inspire the same fondness in the reader. Fortunately his writing style is straightforward and unsentimental, allowing the material to be more poignant than maudlin. The reading by John Lee was good, adding to the sense of place and time. He was especially good at distinguishing the old and the young. A good, easy read.
The division between the Christians and the Jews was not surprising. The story has been told many time. The story was moderately interesting.
A poignant glimpse into the real world of people living in England in war time and before
I loved the honesty and simplicty as told by the author. His admiration and love for his family, especailly his mother was so uplifting. In the midst of extreme poverty they lived, loved and died. It must have been a bleak life, but through the eyes of the child/author it still held joy and love. I also appreciated the fact that even though the father was an alcoholic, abusive person he does not use the book to tear him down. I found this book to be uplifting and wonderfully read. I would listen to it again and again.
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