An Invisible Thread (2011): Laura Schroff & Alex Tresniowski
Have you ever been in a large city and wandered by someone who was panhandling on the street? We have all had this experience and blindly walked along into our daily lives. In 1986, Laura Schroff did the same but something moved her to return to the disheveled young man she saw on Broadway Ave in New York City. This small act culminated in a twenty-five year relationship between two people who now call themselves family.
In 1986, Laura Schroff was a busy sales executive working for USA Today when she happened upon 11 year old, Maurice, a poor young boy struggling to eat in the projects of New York City. For some reason, Laura went back and asked Maurice if he wanted to go to McDonalds for a meal. Laura and Maurice continued to meet every Monday at a restaurant or for a home-cooked meal for years. At first, Laura’s friends and family struggled to understand this unusual relationship and tried to deter her from becoming involved in the hopelessness of Maurice’s situation. In one scene, Laura is compelled to look for Maurice when he doesn’t show up for a promised trip to a Mets game. She travels with her neighbor to the Bryant, one of New York City’s worst welfare hotels. When she finds him she encounters Maurice’s mother, Darcella, a woman who is severely addicted to crack. This visit and another to Maurice’s school emphasize the need for an authentic and responsible role model for this impressionable young boy. Laura is compelled to be a mentor to Maurice and teaches him many life skills that we all take for granted. Both parties feel rewarded by their situation.
Throughout the book, Laura’s memories of her traditional childhood are shadowed by her own family problems and are mentioned in alternating chapters. This is a writing method that feels engaging and enhances the message of the book.
As the novel progresses, Maurice becomes an important part of Laura’s extended family and attends family gatherings with her during Christmas and Thanksgiving. As an inner city child, he observes common traditional rituals such as eating at a dinner table, riding his first bike, and seeing a parent comforting a child without abuse. As a reader, I wished this constant interaction between Laura and Maurice would continue to the end of the book but life is not always perfect. Circumstances in both of their lives affect Laura’s relationship with Maurice and become a source of pain for both. As a favor to new readers and I will not spoil the plot outcome.
An Invisible Thread was such a pleasure to read. I finished it in nearly a day in my favorite place to read - riding in the passenger seat of our family car. The memoir is not long and if you enjoy my recommendations, please take a few days to dive into this amazing and inspiring book. My New Year’s resolution includes looking outside of my comfort zone for ways that I might help others. Laura Schroff represents an honorable and poignant example that we are all connected and one small act can be monumental!