Looking for a good holiday read? An Invisible Thread, which accounts the unlikely friendship between Long Island native Laura Schroff, a successful ad exec, and Maurice Maczyk, an 11-year old panhandler, is one of this season’s most heart-warming stories.
The book’s title comes from an ancient Chinese proverb, which deems an invisible thread “connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place and circumstance.” Laura and Maurice’s thread was connected one afternoon back in 1986, when young Maurice, who had not eaten for a day and a half, asked Laura, then 35, for spare change on the street outside her Manhattan apartment. When he explained that he was hungry, she took him for lunch at McDonald’s, and afterwards, for a walk through Central Park. The two shared meals, conversations, and small celebrations for the next 25 years.
Readers will cheer on this pair from vastly different worlds who agree to come together weekly for food and friendship. Maurice’s life reads like a modern-day Dickens tale. He barely knew his father and his mother was a drug addict. He grew up in some of New York City’s toughest housing projects and welfare hotels in the worst neighborhoods. Until he met Laura, he had never known anyone with a job. Knowing Maurice, meanwhile, allowed Laura to satisfy a maternal desire that remained unfulfilled despite two marriages (she writes in the book’s afterward, “Maurice was and is the child I always wanted and dreamed of having”). Weaved between Maurice’s heartbreaking hardships are Laura’s recollections of a suburban LI childhood that was happy on the surface but darkened by an alcoholic father’s abusive rages. She knew first-hand that Maurice, trying to make sense of a chaotic world with unpredictable adults, needed a sense of stability and reliability, and in their weekly meetings, she was happy to provide that to him.
An Invisible Thread is a quick read. Rachael Ray, who welcomed the pair on her show when the book debuted in early November, declared she finished it in one sitting; after seeing Laura and Maurice speak with co-author Alex Tresniowski at Huntington’s Book Revue, I purchased and read the entire book in a weekend (and I’ve got two kids in diapers!)
Chris Gardner, bestselling author of The Pursuit of Happyness says “An Invisible Thread is a story about the power each of us has to elevate some else’s life…” Indeed, busy parents will surely be inspired by this book, refreshed by its message of hope and grateful for its gentle reminder of what an honor and privilege it is to care for children.