Monday, April 30, 2012

The Dream by Harry Bernstein

This follow-up memoir to The Invisible Wall chronicles the author's life as he moves from England to America with his family. It focuses on the idealized version of America many immigrants had post-World War I and how devastatingly quickly that dream was dashed during The Great Depression.

I like a memoir to have something of the unusual about it and The Dream was severely lacking in this department. Bernstein lives a life full of struggles common (unfortunately) to immigrant families in the 20's and 30's. Money is tight, jobs are impossible to find, dad is an all read pretty predictably when you compare this one story to history. I even felt like events were foreshadowed in a style more akin to fiction - the set-up was all too perfect at times - that I never expected to see in a memoir.

Bernstein also relates stories in an overly-detailed manner. I felt like I was reading a diary at times of his day-to-day life. It was actually pretty boring.

To sum up the story, Bernstein, amidst all the trials of immigrating to the US post WWI finds love and lives an overall happy life. His siblings all struggle in different ways, but overcome too. The only sad character in the end is Bernstein's Mom, who suffers beyond the scope of The Great Depression, wanting only happiness and comfort for her children and dying before everything smooths out.

I would not recommend this book. I think you can find a more readable account of life during this time period if that's what you're looking for. I would suggest picking up The Invisible Wall though. It's an interesting story with enough unique elements to really make it an engaging memoir.

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