My mom lent me this book to read about a year ago, and for whatever reason I just barely got around to it. And now having read it, it just seems unbelievable to me that I let this book sit at my house not being read for so long! It did not deserve such treatment!
The Invisible Wall is the memoir of a boy named Harry growing up in England around World War I. It starts when he's about 4, and follows him to his early teenage years. He lives in a poor, working class neighborhood of row houses. And one side of the street is Jews, the other side Christians, and the "invisible wall" in the title refers to what might as well have been in the middle of their street. The Jews and Christians didn't associate with one another. They weren't mean or hostile, it was just as if the others didn't exist.
When Harry is really little, only about 4 or 5, he unwittingly becomes part of a Romeo and Juliet-esque story with one of the older Jewish girls and a Christian boy. A lot of the book takes place on their street, with stories of what happened there, but he also talks about school and home and the synagogue. His angelic, wonderful mother is such an amazing and tragic character. She wants so badly for her children to have a good life, and it just feels so impossible. But she is so optimistic and believes that things will be better someday. His father is awful. He hardly ever speaks or looks at his children, and is hardly ever at home because he's out at the pub. I remember at one part the dad is talking to one of Harry's sisters, and he stands at the bottom of the stairs and yells up, "You!" Harry says his dad never called them by their names and I thought that was so sad. He also talks about taking lunch to his dad at the factory, and how all the other boys were so excited to see their dads, but he was just scared. And then once they got there, the other dads went and hugged their kids and talked and ate lunch together, but his dad just stayed at his desk and waited for him to drop off the lunch, and never talked or looked at him. It's really sad.
Anyway, I don't want to say too much, because I think it's usually better to read something when you don't know very much about it. All I knew was that half their street was Jewish and the other half Christian, and I loved it. Also, sometimes books like this can be a little bit slow moving, but this is completely riveting. I couldn't put it down, I even took it to the gym with me and read on the elliptical.
Do we rate our books? I don't remember, it's been too long since I've written. But if we do, I give this one 5 stars. It is wonderful.