An Invisible Thread: The True Story of an 11-Year-Old Panhandler, a Busy Sales Executive, and an Unlikely Meeting with Destiny

by Laura Schroff

Other authorsAlex Tresniowski (Author)
Paperback, 2012




Howard Books (2012), Edition: Reprint, 272 pages


He asked for spare change; she kept walking. But something made her turn around and go back. They met nearly every week for years, and built an unexpected, life-changing friendship that has today spanned almost three decades.


½ (224 ratings; 3.8)

Media 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,
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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."
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User reviews

LibraryThing member HistReader
I began this book expecting a conceited tale of Laura Schroff "giving back," or admonishment of the reader for civic ills or even a promulgation that racial oppression still exist. Instead, I found this book to be written so that it was engaging from the first page to the epilogue without any
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dressing down or politicking. Ms. Schroff alternates between her story of befriending a pre-teen panhandler and her broken home of a stereotypical Catholic family. Ms. Schroff never attempted to equate or draw the slightest parallel between Maurice, who grew up in a series of drug dens operated by his mother, and her home wracked by alcoholism.

Being a cynic, I found myself waiting for the altruistic braggadocio for the first two or three chapters, yet the way she shares their narratives (his and hers), I don't believe she is publishing a written account of her life with Maurice for any other reason than inspiration. I would also estimate she is proud of Maurice, like a mother, of his accomplishments.

This book reads rather quickly and was difficult to put down. Not written in a grandiloquent fashion, An Invisible Thread, is easy to understand and would be suitable for a young adult. With Ms. Schroff's honest and undecorated view of abject poverty from an "outsider's" point-of-view, free of blame, the book exemplifies kindness from a heartfelt level where nothing is sought in return. True charity.
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LibraryThing member marshapetry
Pretty good book. Good narrator for audiobook. Nothing stellar, just a story about a woman from a highly dysfunctional family trying to help an inner city kid survive. The proselytizing was a bit over the top... my how this woman thinks a g-d is watching over every little thing... but the story
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itself is interesting and watching this kid grow up with some structure is nice. It's the ol' white person makes good story, but it is still nice how it turned out. Easy read.
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LibraryThing member HeatherMS
“An Invisible Thread” by Laura Schroff and Alex Tresniowski is a true story of a successful ad sales rep, Laura Schroff, and a homeless 11 year old panhandler, Maurice, who by chance for an unlikely friendship in the heart of Manhattan.

11 year old Maurice was asking for money because he was
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hungry. Laura Schroff walked right on by without noticing him. Then, for no reason, she stops, turns around and offers to take Maurice to McDonalds for some food. Thus began what would become a weekly tradition between Maurice and Laura.

Reading about Maurice was heartbreaking. It is hard to imagine that a child would have to live like he did with a drug addicted parents and extended family, never knowing where he was going to sleep or when he was going to eat. Maurice has grown up learning never to trust anyone. Until he meets Laura and takes a chance.

Laura is brutally honest about herself and Maurice in this book. She grew up in a household with an alcoholic father. She became a successful ad sales rep despite not having gone to college. Although she was successful, she was missing something in her life. Turns out, it was Maurice that she was missing.

This is a feel good story about a chance encounter, learning to trust, and opening your heart. Laura and Maurice are incredible people who changed each other’s lives for the better.
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LibraryThing member JackieBlem
One day Laura Schroff, a busy ad exec, was walking down a street and barely registered a small boy ask her "Excuse me, lady, do you have any spare change?" But for some reason, a reason she couldn't name then or now, she turned around half way across the street, nearly getting hit by the impatient
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Manhattan drivers, went back to the boy and offered to take him to lunch at McDonalds. In that moment a friendship was born that changed both of their lives forever. They began an unlikely friendship that has lasted 25 years and is still going strong. This is an amazing story of love and hope and how it can change lives, not just for two people, but potentially for an entire generation. This is a rags to riches story of the soul and the heart, and I think everyone should read it--it could help you see the world very, very differently.
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LibraryThing member Draak
I have never read a book that had me crying after the first few pages and then smiling after the last page was read. Just as the title says it's about a busy executive and a small boy out on the streets begging for money. She walks by him as if he doesn't exist but then for some unknown reason goes
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back and there starts this beautiful relationship between the two. I read this book in not even a day because I simply could not put it down. The bond and the love just jumps off the pages. I am so thankful that I was able to experience this book. And thank you Laura and Maurice for sharing your story.
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LibraryThing member wirtley
Poorly written. Story about author, Laura Schroff, ad executive for USA Today. She is asked for change by a young boy, whose name is Maurice.
She keeps walking. She turns back and takes him to McDonalds instead. They develop a friendship and she changes his life for the better.

Easy to read, but too
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much about the author and not enough about the young man.
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LibraryThing member Carolee888
No review because I read it for the 2013 Just For Fun Reading Challenge
LibraryThing member ElaineWatkins
Loved it! Amazing story,you feel like Laura is talking to you as a friend and it is such a moving story of love, loss, life and 2 people destined to be friends. I highly recommend it.
LibraryThing member carolfoisset
As an educator I found this story inspiring and heartwarming as well as heartbreaking at times. Laura's relationship with Maurice is so unique and powerful. It really makes you think about the influence you can have on other people and how you can help steer kids in the right direction.
LibraryThing member NHNick
This book really disappointed me. It was way too much about the author's family and not enough about her relationship with Maurice. Also...SPOILER..I was so angry when her husband would not allow Maurice into their home and she so readily went along. He was good enough to take to McDonalds but not
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good enough to bring into her home. Even after her own family accepted Maurice with open arms, she accepted this behavior from her own husband! Infuriating. I know their relationship helped Maurice, but the author talking about her childhood ad nauseam got to me. While alcohol and domestic violence are horrible, it paled in comparison to the horror that Maurice lived through. I found that the letter from Maurice that closed the book the best part of the book.
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LibraryThing member debs4jc
Laura Schroff recounts the story of the relationship with an 11 year old panhandler that changed her life. When she first walked by Maurice and he said he was hungry and asked for spare change, her first inclination was to walk on by. But thinking about how he said he was hungry made her turn back
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and invite him to a nearby McDonalds. After sharing a meal she couldn't get him off of her mind and sought him out again and soon their lunch dates became a regular weekly occurrence. Laura shares how she gradually learned more about Maurice's troubled life and barely functioning family environment, and how he also learned about her and her family and friends. Despite some bumps along they way, they have managed to stay in touch even to this day.
A touching tale, if somewhat simply told. Those looking for inspiration from a true life story will find plenty of it here.
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LibraryThing member Mollyb123456
This book is an untraditional love story. Despite what you are always hearing on the news, and the radio about all the bad things happening in the world, this book helps you regain faith in society. It follows a woman living in New York who stops on the street one day to a child begging for money.
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Why? honestly i don't even think she could tell you. This book is the epitome of one that pulls your heart strings so hard that they are broken by then end. And the best part? its a true story. The book is relatable in a family sense. Her family is so close due to her abusive alcoholic father that it makes you feel for them the mom especially. You feel for them and you feel for the boy that she befriends. He is so lovable. You just want to find him and give him a hug after this book. This is a book that shows you the good in the world while also telling a riveting story of a boy and his savior.
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LibraryThing member TFHetrick
Inspiring in its truth and its impact. Bravo for doing it; bravo for telling it. Now I'm off to perform some random act of kindness because, after reading this, what else can I do?
LibraryThing member SilversReviews
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
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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, 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
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LibraryThing member cjordan916
An Invisible Thread tells of the life-long friendship between a busy sales executive and a disadvantaged young boy, and how both of their lives were changed by what began as one small gesture of kindness.

Stopping was never part of the plan...

She was a successful ad sales rep in Manhattan. He was a
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homeless, eleven-year-old panhandler on the street. He asked for spare change; she kept walking. But then something stopped her in her tracks, and she went back. And she continued to go back, again and again. They met up nearly every week for years and built an unexpected, life-changing friendship that has today spanned almost three decades.

Whatever made me notice him on that street corner so many years ago is clearly something that cannot be extinguished, no matter how relentless the forces aligned against it. Some may call it spirit. Some may call it heart. It drew me to him, as if we were bound by some invisible, unbreakable thread. And whatever it is, it binds us still.
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LibraryThing member amanderson
I read an advance reader's e-copy of this. This was a touching memoir about the unexpected and unlooked for connection between a successful ad saleswoman, Laura Schroff, and a poor young panhandler, Maurice. Something about the 11 year old boy belatedly caught Schroff's attention as she was halfway
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in the street after doing the usual New Yorker disregard of panhandlers. She backed up, offered to buy him a sandwich at McDonalds, and they developed an odd sort of friendship for the next few years. The book was a quick and easy read, albeit emotionally wrenching in parts. It will have a wide appeal to readers in a moderate fasion, I think.

Schroff clearly has a warm and generous heart, continuing to nurture the boy (despite her friends' worry about potential misunderstandins or trouble) via weekly meals, holidays meals and celebrations, gifts of essential clothing and personal items, and a steady presence in his life as an adult who was neither violent nor on drugs. But she made it a point to not try and replace the boy's own mother, who while deeply troubled nonetheless loved her son. Maurice is a bit of a cipher in the book; we get a clear picture of his home life with poverty, drug addicts and violence, but not his own internal life. Of course it isn't Maurice's memoir, but I was left wondering what his voice would have been like. Some letters from Maurice were included, but they sounded oddly duplicative of Schroff's narrated details about their relationship. Perhaps he isn't a big writer. The most gut wrenching parts of the book were Schroff's own remembrances of her Jekyll and Hyde-like sometimes sweet, alcoholic and violent father, who created instability and fear in her home. It illustrated how she might have developed the empathy and understanding she displayed with Maurice in the memoir.
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LibraryThing member NancyJak
Story of how Laura became a friend and mentor to a panhandler she passed on a New York street one day and their lives through the years.
As a "Big Sister" to a (now) middle school boy, I enjoyed the story (but both lives are far different than either of ours!). I was surprised how she really didn't
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put her foot down at all with her fiance with regard to her friend or that she went for periods of time with out seeing him. I was glad to know she did make such a difference in his life.
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LibraryThing member mlhershey
Junior League Author's Luncheon--Good non-fiction read. NYC unlikely friendship between woman executive and street-urchin
LibraryThing member bness2
A very inspiring and sweet story.
LibraryThing member JoniMFisher
This tale of an unexpected friendship unfolds like an intimate journal, revealing the deep and conflicting thoughts and feelings of a single white career woman named Laura Schroff in New York City who forms a friendship with a panhandling young boy named Maurice.
Though the boy is desperately
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lonely and emotionally outcast from society, the reader discovers that Maurice and Laura have more in common than appearances show. This story stays with the reader because of its underlying, subtle but profound message about an invisible thread.
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LibraryThing member JRlibrary
Although Maurice’s circumstances are heartbreaking, I took comfort in the fact that he always felt loved by his family and especially by his Grandma and mom. I would be careful who I gave this book to because I know that super sensitive students would be haunted by the idea of a child going days
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without food. I think it’s an important story to share however and one that needs to be available.
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LibraryThing member bookwyrmm
Wonderfully uplifting true story.
LibraryThing member Lisa5127
In a world where we all stay in our comfort zone, this woman and this boy stepped out if theirs to befriend each other. For everyone who has ever passed a homeless person without giving it a second thought, this is a must read. It is a book of hope about how our choices and actions really can
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change the world, at least for one person.
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LibraryThing member CarrieWuj
This is a quick read -- for a memoir it flows smoothly and doesn't get bogged down in detail that is only meaningful to the teller. Laura Schroff recounts how she met and mentored Maurice Mazyck and ultimately saved him from the streets of NYC. As an 11-yr old panhandler, Maurice was well on his
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way to tough times when he literally crossed Laura's path -- and kudos to her, she stopped and paid attention and acted on the impulse to take him out for a meal rather than just hand over money. This was the beginning of a meaningful lifelong friendship that has come to fruition in the happiness and success Maurice has had in raising his own family. While the homelife Maurice was raised in was tragic, full of drugs and prison and adults who had no use for children, Schroff doesn't belabor this too much -- some of it she didn't even know until after the fact. It is hard to know if the dividing line for Maurice rising above is due to her influence or to his own resilience. It is probably a combination of both, though he seems to give her much of the credit and to her credit, she is quite humble about it. It is hopeful to watch the trajectory of Maurice's overcoming the odds, and also to witness the determination and risk Schroff took in pursuing the friendship. "We all want relationships that are healthy and resolved, and sometimes that simply doesn't happen. But the beauty of life is that inside these disappointments are hidden the most miraculous of blessings. What we lose and what might have been pales against what we have." (184) Schroff's own background with an alcoholic, abusive father helped the two find common ground, or at least increased her empathy quotient. She says "For many of these doomed people in Maurice's life, there was simply no escape from the heavy, burdensome weight of the past. That burden is something I am sure many, many people understand, and it is something I understand pretty well too. I know that struggling against the vicious undertow of inherited sadness -- the ever-present pull of family history -- can be a lifelong battle that is never won, only endured. (207) Urban poverty and race is such a multi-faceted problem that it seems defeatist to even begin to untangle it. But Schroff had the guts to jump in and make a difference for one and that has made a difference for many. Inspiring.
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LibraryThing member c_why
Something so non - credible about this entire book. Plus poorly structured (re. chronology).. Aggrevations galore.


Triple Crown Awards (Classic (Runner-Up/Honor Book) — 2021)


Original language


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Physical description

272 p.; 8.44 inches


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