Best Review of An Invisible Thread: The True Story Of An 11-year-old Panhandler, A Busy Sales Executive, And An Unlikely Meeting With Destiny:
Most helpful customer reviews 270 of 280 people found the following review helpful. Wonderful By Silver's s Maurice had never met anyone like Laura and Laura had never met anyone like Maurice. They were from two different worlds. Laura doesn't know why she stopped and turned back after Maurice asked her for some money, but she is glad she did.Through Maurice, Laura learned about the life he and thousands of others were living on a daily basis....not a pleasant life at all. Laura was helping Maurice to live a better life at least one day a week, and it seemed to be paying off since she could see a change in him even though he had to go back to his horrible living conditions after he left her.As well as learning about the living conditions of others, the author also gave the reader a chance to find out that her childhood/family life was not very easy.....her father was an abusive alcoholic, and her mother sat by not being able to defend herself or her children. Obviously the author's childhood and the childhood of her brothers and sisters had an impact on their entire life and on her decision to turn back and fulfill Maurice's plea for help.The descriptions in the book are very detailed and heartbreaking but also heartwarming. You will become a part of the lives of every character and you will feel their pain and happiness.An Invisible Thread is the perfect title for this book. The book brought to the surface that we all have a connection to other human beings even though that connection may not be outwardly visible.I truly enjoyed the book because of the honesty of feelings and of human kindness and human connection. This is a must read. Laura Schroff is a brave woman to reveal all this about her life, but it definitely will make you realize that no matter how small the gesture may be, we can make a difference for someone else. 5/5 130 of 138 people found the following review helpful. more complex than you might initially think By a long way from home I was very torn throughout the reading of this book. Once I finished reading I turned to the user reviews on amazon to see what others thought. I found myself agreeing with both the positive and negative reviews which made me sit back and think long and hard about things.What drew me to the book was not just the story, but the fact that the first editorial review stated that there was a "lack of excess sentimentality" As far as my tastes go, I don't like gratuitous sentimentality so that simple statement was a ringing endorsement. But the book IS sentimental, sometimes overly so, and, as other less favorable reviews have pointed out, there is a self congratulatory undercurrent at times. There were points in my reading of An Invisible Thread that I would have hurled the book across the room in frustration. The fact that I was reading on the kindle app for my android phone was probably the main reason for my restraint. The author was often the hero in her stories and I found myself wondering how much of a role revisionist history played in her retelling of her childhood and even certain scenes with Maurice. Or maybe not. There are already too many spoilers here in these user reviews so I am not going to give anything away, but suffice it to say that when Laura met Michael I was so angry I wasn't sure I would finish the book. Sure, she talked about her struggles with her decisions but I think I didn't always believe her. There we a few other instances of cowardice in the book that made me cringe but then I had to ask myself whether I would be any less cowardly in some of these emotionally difficult situations. Unfortunately, the answer is probably, NO. Edit* I should note, that along with what I am calling cowardice, Laura also showed incredible bravery and/or courage.What I finally realized was that no matter how frustrated or angry I became at times, something was keeping me glued to this book. I am a truly terrible reader and always have been. Slow, distractible and easily bored. I can't remember the last book I read in one day. This one I read in half a day, losing precious hours of sleep as I dug deeper and deeper into the story. I loved Maurice. His indomitable spirit in the face of the overwhelming odds against him was just a joy to watch unfold. If I am honest with myself I would have to say that I ended up loving Laura as well. I didn't always like her but what she did for Maurice can't be denied no matter what you decide her motives were. Does it lessen the gift when the giver is also the receiver? I don't think so. Laura gave so much to Maurice and got so much back in return. I don't think we need to penalize her for the fact that in the process of saving Maurice, she managed to save herself as well. Isn't this precisely how so much of life works? Laura is multifaceted and as I turned pages I found myself with myriad emotions about her -- most of them quite positive. In fact, I would like to meet her and find out more of the story that didn't fit in these pages.We humans are such complex creatures. To sum either one of these two characters up as either privileged, underprivileged, self serving, selfish, innocent, lovable, a victim, cowardly, a hero, a superhero, courageous, or sentimental, is to miss the fact that they are all of the above and then some. They are human. Flawed. Did Laura and Maurice always have pure motives for all the decisions they made? Probably not. I don't know anyone whose motives are always pure. Some reviewers question why Laura wrote the book if not for self congratulations. Maybe. Or maybe she knew she had a good story to tell. The fact that it painted her in a good light is just part of the tale. She DID do a good thing. Don't lose sight of that fact just because at times she seems to feel good about herself. She ought to feel good. It was a potentially miserably unhappy story with a warm and fuzzy ending (FYI - I usually hate warm and fuzzy endings). She did something that most people would not have done and she did it with conviction (and more than a bit of blind faith).I don't know why Laura (and Alex) chose to write the book. I don't know whether she simply had a story to tell or whether she needed more self validation. I don't actually care WHY she wrote it. I care THAT she wrote it. It comes at a time in our lives when apathy is rampant and relationships are more fragile than ever. Was this a brilliant piece of writing? No, not at all really. Again, I don't really care. It was a simple story (albeit with some complex emotions) simply told. I enjoyed the journey and am finding the thoughtful aftermath more rich and colorful than I had expected.Bottom line: I recommend the book. 123 of 131 people found the following review helpful. I Wanted to Love It, But... By Louisa M God bless Laura Schroff and Maurice Maczyk. An Invisible Thread tells their story; Laura, a successful NY career woman, and Maurice, the young 11-year-old panhandler, whom she helped and befriended. Her initial act of kindness, and the lessons they taught one another and share here, are indeed inspiritional, and hopefully will help to change many lives for the better.But parts of this book are difficult to read. The description of the welfare hotel where Maurice lived at one time is horrifying; the abuse that Laura and her family suffered at the hands of her alcoholic father is even worse. I must applaud the author for her honesty...although she does pat herself on the back a little too often, she also gives other people credit where due, and admits if she made a mistake.There are many small details (for example, the brown bag lunches, and the bicycle) which add heart to the story, but then other chapters jump ahead abruptly, and suddenly the reader is two years in the future without knowing what transpired in between. Also, the editing could have been better...if Maurice is on a bike, he should "pedal" away, not "peddle," as it is spelled in the text.For me, almost the saddest part of the book was the following sentence: "He (the suthor's husband) even relented and allowed me to invite Maurice to our home for Christmas one year." Allowed her? Wasn't it her home also? It is obvious that Laura and Maurice have always had a special relationship; what a pity that they were forced to miss any time together at all.The photo inserts are helpful, and a nice addition, as is the follow-up interview with the author.Ms. Schroff states that the book idea grew from a magazine article. It is a good book, but not great. Borrow it from the library, and use the money you would have spent on a purchase to perform your own act of kindness. I wish Laura, Maurice, and their entire extended family all the best. See all 2162 customer reviews...
"I thought I knew what An Invisible Thread was going to be. I thought it would be a simple and hopeful story about a woman who saved a boy. I was wrong. It's a complex and unswervingly honest story about a woman and a boy who saved each other. By its raw honesty and lack of excess sentimentality, it is even more inspirational. This is a book capable of restoring our faith in each other and in the very idea that maybe everything is going to be okay after all." —Catherine Ryan Hyde, author of Pay It Forward and Jumpstart the World"An Invisible Thread—a remarkable story, told so beautifully and honestly—shows us what's possible when we are not afraid to connect with another human being and tap into our compassion. It is a story about the power each of us has to elevate someone else's life and how our own life is enriched in the process. This special book reminds us that damaging cycles can be broken and not to neglect the humanity of the strangers we brush up against every day." —Chris Gardner, bestselling author of The Pursuit of Happyness and Start Where You Are"A straightforward tale of kindness and paying it forward in 1980s New York . . . For readers seeking an uplifting reminder that small gestures matter." —Kirkus s"According to an old Chinese proverb, there's an invisible thread that connects two people who are destined to meet and influence each other's lives. . . . As Schroff relates Maurice's story, she tells of her own father's alcoholism and abuse, and readers see how desperately these two need each other in this feel-good story about the far-reaching benefits of kindness." —Publishers Weekly"An Invisible Thread is like The Blind Side, but instead of football, it’s food. These are two people who were brought together by one simple meal, and it literally changed the course of both of their lives. This is a must-read . . . you can read it in a day because it’s impossible to put down. If you read it and find it as moving as I did, pay it forward: buy a copy and give it to a friend.” —Rachael Ray, host of The Rachael Ray Show"When advertising executive Laura Schroff was approached by 11-year-old panhandler Maurice, at first, she ignored him: 'His words were part of the clatter, like a car horn or someone yelling for a cab. They were, you could say, just noise—the kind of nuisance New Yorkers learn to tune out.' A moment later, when she came to, she returned and invited her new acquaintance to lunch at McDonald's, the beginning of a human connection that would change both their lives. An Invisible Thread picks up the progress of two very different people with strangely parallel stories of 'complicated pasts and fragile dreams.' Uplifting, without an ounce of pretension." —BarnesandNoble.com“This book is a game-changer . . . each chapter touches your heart. An Invisible Thread is a gift to us all. America needs this book now more than ever.” —“Coach” Ron Tunick, national radio show host, “The Business of Life”“An incredible story . . . I would encourage everyone to pick up this book.” —Clayton Morris, host, Fox & Friends About the Author Laura Schroff Laura Schroff is a former advertising executive who has helped launch three of the most successful start-ups in Time Inc. history—InStyle, Teen People, and People StyleWatch. Schroff has also worked as the New York Division Manager at People magazine and as Associate Publisher at Brides magazine. She lives in New York City. Alex Tresniowski Alex Tresniowski is a former human-interest writer at People and the bestselling author of several books, most notably The Vendetta, which was purchased by Universal Studios and used as a basis for the movie Public Enemies. His other titles include An Invisible Thread, Waking Up In Heaven, and The Light Between Us. Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved. The boy stands alone on a sidewalk in Brooklyn and this is what he sees: a woman running for her life, and another woman chasing her with a hammer. He recognizes one woman as his father’s girlfriend. The other, the one with the hammer, he doesn’t know. The boy is stuck in something like hell. He is six years old and covered in small red bites from chinches—bedbugs—and he is woefully skinny due to an unchecked case of ringworm. He is so hungry his stomach hurts, but then being hungry is nothing new to him. When he was two years old the pangs got so bad he rooted through the trash and ate rat droppings and had to have his stomach pumped. He is staying in his father’s cramped, filthy apartment in a desolate stretch of Brooklyn, sleeping with stepbrothers who wet the bed, surviving in a place that smells like death. He has not seen his mother in three months, and he doesn’t know why. His world is a world of drugs and violence and unrelenting chaos, and he has the wisdom to know, even at six, that if something does not change for him soon, he might not make it. He does not pray, does not know how, but he thinks, Please don’t let my father let me die. And this thought, in a way, is its own little prayer. And then the boy sees his father come up the block, and the woman with the hammer sees him too, and she screams, “Junebug, where is my son?!” The boy recognizes this voice, and he says, “Mom?” The woman with the hammer looks down at the boy, and she looks puzzled, until she looks harder and finally says, “Maurice?” The boy didn’t recognize his mother because her teeth had fallen out from smoking dope. The mother didn’t recognize her son because he was shriveled from the ringworm. Now she is chasing Junebug and yelling, “Look what you did to my baby!” The boy should be frightened, or confused, but more than anything what the boy feels is happiness. He is happy that his mother has come back to get him, and because of that he is not going to die—at least not now, at least not in this place. He will remember this as the moment when he knew his mother loved him. © 2011 Laura Schroff “Excuse me, lady, do you have any spare change?” This was the first thing he said to me, on 56th Street in New York City, right around the corner from Broadway, on a sunny September day. And when I heard him, I didn’t really hear him. His words were part of the clatter, like a car horn or someone yelling for a cab. They were, you could say, just noise—the kind of nuisance New Yorkers learn to tune out. So I walked right by him, as if he wasn’t there. But then, just a few yards past him, I stopped. And then—and I’m still not sure why I did this—I came back. I came back and I looked at him, and I realized he was just a boy. Earlier, out of the corner of my eye, I had noticed he was young. But now, looking at him, I saw that he was a child—tiny body, sticks for arms, big round eyes. He wore a burgundy sweatshirt that was smudged and frayed and ratty burgundy sweatpants to match. He had scuffed white sneakers with untied laces, and his fingernails were dirty. But his eyes were bright and there was a general sweetness about him. He was, I would soon learn, eleven years old. He stretched his palm toward me, and he asked again, “Excuse me, lady, do you have any spare change? I am hungry.” What I said in response may have surprised him, but it really shocked me. “If you’re hungry,” I said, “I’ll take you to McDonald’s and buy you lunch.” “Can I have a cheeseburger?” he asked. “Yes,” I said. “How about a Big Mac?” “That’s okay, too.” “How about a Diet Coke?” “Yes, that’s okay.” “Well, how about a thick chocolate shake and French fries?” I told him he could have anything he wanted. And then I asked him if I could join him for lunch. He thought about it for a second. “Sure,” he finally said. We had lunch together that day, at McDonald’s. And after that, we got together every Monday. For the next 150 Mondays. His name is Maurice, and he changed my life. Why did I stop and go back to Maurice? It is easier for me to tell you why I ignored him in the first place. I ignored him, very simply, because he wasn’t in my schedule. You see, I am a woman whose life runs on schedules. I make appointments, I fill slots, I micromanage the clock. I bounce around from meeting to meeting, ticking things off a list. I am not merely punctual; I am fifteen minutes early for any and every engagement. This is how I live; it is who I am—but some things in life do not fit neatly into a schedule. Rain, for example. On the day I met Maurice—September 1, 1986—a huge storm swept over the city, and I awoke to darkness and hammering rain. It was Labor Day weekend and the summer was slipping away, but I had tickets to the U.S. Open tennis tournament that afternoon—box seats, three rows from center court. I wasn’t a big tennis fan, but I loved having such great seats; to me, the tickets were tangible evidence of how successful I’d become. In 1986 I was thirty-five years old and an advertising sales executive for USA Today, and I was very good at what I did, which was building relationships through sheer force of personality. Maybe I wasn’t exactly where I wanted to be in my life—after all, I was still single, and another summer had come and gone without me finding that someone special—but by any standard I was doing pretty well. Taking clients to the Open and sitting courtside for free was just another measure of how far this girl from a working-class Long Island town had come. But then the rains washed out the day, and by noon the Open had been postponed. I puttered around my apartment, tidied up a bit, made some calls, and read the paper until the rain finally let up in mid-afternoon. I grabbed a sweater and dashed out for a walk. I may not have had a destination, but I had a definite purpose—to enjoy the fall chill in the air and the peeking sun on my face, to get a little exercise, to say good-bye to summer. Stopping was never part of the plan. And so, when Maurice spoke to me, I just kept going. Another thing to remember is that this was New York in the 1980s, a time when vagrants and panhandlers were as common a sight in the city as kids on bikes or moms with strollers. The nation was enjoying an economic boom, and on Wall Street new millionaires were minted every day. But the flip side was a widening gap between the rich and the poor, and nowhere was this more evident than on the streets of New York City. Whatever wealth was supposed to trickle down to the middle class did not come close to reaching the city’s poorest, most desperate people, and for many of them the only recourse was living on the streets. After a while you got used to the sight of them—hard, gaunt men and sad, haunted women, wearing rags, camped on corners, sleeping on grates, asking for change. It is tough to imagine anyone could see them and not feel deeply moved by their plight. Yet they were just so prevalent that most people made an almost subconscious decision to simply look the other way—to, basically, ignore them. The problem seemed so vast, so endemic, that stopping to help a single panhandler could feel all but pointless. And so we swept past them every day, great waves of us going on with our lives and accepting that there was nothing we could really do to help. There had been one homeless man I briefly came to know the winter before I met Maurice. His name was Stan, and he lived on the street off Sixth Avenue, not far from my apartment. Stan was a stocky guy in his midforties who owned a pair of wool gloves, a navy blue skullcap, old work shoes, and a few other things stuffed into plastic shopping bags, certainly not any of the simple creature comforts we take for granted—a warm blanket, for instance, or a winter coat. He slept on a subway grate, and the steam from the trains kept him alive. One day I asked if he’d like a cup of coffee, and he answered that he would, with milk and four sugars, please. And it became part of my routine to bring him a cup of coffee on the way to work. I’d ask Stan how he was doing and I’d wish him good luck, until one morning he was gone and the grate was just a grate again, not Stan’s spot. And just like that he vanished from my life, without a hint of what happened to him. I felt sad that he was no longer there and I often wondered what became of him, but I went on with my life and over time I stopped thinking about Stan. I hate to believe my compassion for him and others like him was a casual thing, but if I’m really honest with myself, I’d have to say that it was. I cared, but I didn’t care enough to make a real change in my life to help. I was not some heroic do-gooder. I learned, like most New Yorkers, to tune out the nuisance. Then came Maurice. I walked past him to the corner, onto Broadway, and, halfway to the other side in the middle of the avenue, just stopped. I stood there for a few moments, in front of cars waiting for the light to change, until a horn sounded and startled me. I turned around and hustled back to the sidewalk. I don’t remember thinking about it or even making a conscious decision to turn around. I just remember doing it. Looking back all these years later, I believe there was a strong, unseen connection that pulled me back to Maurice. It’s something I call an invisible thread. It is, as the old Chinese proverb tells us, something that connects two people who are destined to meet, regardless of time and place and circumstance. Some legends call it the red string of fate; others, the thread of destiny. It is, I believe,...
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