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Publisher's Summary

This enchanting true story, written when the author was 93, is a moving tale of working-class life, the social divide, and forbidden love on the eve of the first World War.

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.

Critic Reviews

"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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Story

A Powerful Tale

Any additional comments?

This story of struggle and survival sticks with the reader long after the narration is finished. It gives a birds eye view of life in a different time with all the accompanying expectations and realities from the past. An excellent book. Highly recommended.

31 of 32 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Brings a lost world to life

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.

22 of 23 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Alex
  • Lafayette Hill, PA, USA
  • 04-10-07

Angela's Ashes for Jews

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

19 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Sherry
  • danvers, IL, USA
  • 04-30-08

The Invisible Wall

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.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
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Beautiful & Raw

I read another of Bernstein’s books (The Dream) a couple of years ago and enjoyed his writing so much that I (rightly) assumed I would like all his work. He has this fantastic way of writing memoir that draws you in instantly and keeps you completely absorbed throughout. There was never a lull in my listening—you know, where you put the book down for a day or two because your interest waned ever so slightly.

He also has this uncanny ability to help you see people—I mean really see people—even if you feel like you have absolutely nothing in common with them. It’s quite remarkable, actually. He’s quickly becoming one of my favorite authors!

One of my favorite themes woven throughout The Invisible Wall was the awareness that everyone on this planet is really much more alike than we are different. And, since Bernstein is writing from his own history, rather than just speaking to ideals, the truth of it all resonates deeply.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Story
  • Janice
  • Sugar Land, TX, United States
  • 02-11-13

Gentle memories

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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Patti
  • Chittenango, NY, United States
  • 10-15-10


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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

invisible wall

great book, great narrator

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Amazing book writeen with the heart

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.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • kimberly
  • claremont, CA, United States
  • 06-13-10


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.

5 of 8 people found this review helpful