An Invisible Thread Summary

Laura Schroff, Alex Tresniowski

An Invisible Thread

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An Invisible Thread Summary

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An Invisible Thread: The True Story of an 11-Year-Old Panhandler, a Busy Sales Executive, and an Unlikely Meeting With Destiny is a memoir by American advertising executive and author Laura Schroff and American author Alex Tresniowski. It tells the story of Schroff’s encounter with a young New York City panhandler and their development of a lifelong friendship. Exploring themes of wealth, coincidences, and the power of one person to change lives, An Invisible Thread was widely praised for its inspirational narrative and its detailed depiction of the thirty-year friendship between Schroff and Maurice, the boy she met on the street that day. It was a bestseller and is frequently taught in schools. It has been translated into more than a dozen languages.

An Invisible Thread begins by introducing the reader to a young boy named Maurice, who is begging for change on the street. A young businesswoman named Laura walks past him. At first, she ignores him like most people on the street. Then, something pulls her back and she asks if he’s hungry. When he says yes, she takes him to McDonald’s for a hamburger. The boy tells he he lives in the projects only a block from Laura’s luxury apartment building. She gives him her business card and tells him to call her if he needs help, and gives him some spare change before leaving. She doesn’t see him toss her card in the garbage, and over the next few days she can’t stop thinking about him. She wonders if he’s doing well and going to school. She decides to find him herself, locating him on the same street corner. She takes him for another hamburger, and she notices he’s a bit more at ease this time. They begin a Monday tradition of getting a hamburger together. She asks him if he’d like to go somewhere nicer, and although he’s worried about not having anything to wear, they go to the casual Hard Rock Cafe. He only eats part of his big meal, because he wants to take some back to his mother and grandmother. Laura orders some extra meals for him to take home.

Some of Laura’s coworkers at the firm are worried about her involvement with Maurice, thinking she might be in danger. Although they encourage her to cut ties, she refuses. It’s shared with the reader that Laura had an abusive father, and Maurice’s father was a drug dealer and a wife-beater before he abandoned them. She feels a connection to Maurice because of this. She invites Maurice to her home for a home-cooked meal, and is shocked to learn that he has never had one. He’s fascinated by every part of it, but she’s disturbed that he doesn’t even know how to use utensils. Upon finding out that Maurice relies on free charity meals when he’s not with her, she offers to make him a lunch to take to school. He asks her to go to the parent-teacher open house so he’ll have someone at school, and she agrees. That’s how she meets his teacher, Kim, who tells her Maurice is a very smart boy who misses a lot of school and gets into fights. She urges Laura to stick with Maurice and not abandon him like so many others have. When Laura talks to Maurice about his troubles in school, she finds out he doesn’t have a watch or clock to tell time. She buys him one, and he’s able to start making it to school on time.

She wants to take Maurice to a Mets game, but needs his guardian’s permission. She and her friend Lisa go to the projects, where Laura finds out that Maurice’s mother is a drug addict. However, his grandmother Rose takes care of him as best as she can and is grateful to Laura for her help. From there, Laura continues to stay involved in Maurice’s life, taking him to her sister’s house in the country so he can have room to run around. They share more about their troubled family backgrounds, and become more like family. Maurice has never had a proper Christmas before, only getting a single present from the Salvation Army each year. Laura takes him to the country for Christmas, and he gives her a gift of his own–the teddy bear he got from the Salvation Army last year. She’s amazed by his generosity. Soon, however, trouble comes for both of them. Laura’s mother becomes very ill with cancer, which brings her absuive father Nunzie back into their lives. This forces Laura to confront her father’s abuse. Maurice grows up, and he’s sixteen when his father Morris returns to the house. Morris is dying of AIDS, and he wants to make amends before he dies. Maurice, thanks to Laura’s guidance, is able to forgive him.

Laura meets a man named Michael, her first serious relationship since a short-lived marriage with a cheating husband. When she moves in with Michael, she moves out of the city, but still frequently comes to to visit the teenaged Maurice. However, when Maurice’s mother is arrested on drug charges and sent to prison, the family loses their apartment and Maurice winds up back on the streets. Maurice hides this from Laura, and he struggles to stay out of gangs and away from criminal activity. He writes to Laura, but she doesn’t know all the details. He moves to North Carolina, meets a girl, and gets her pregnant. Laura is upset when she finds out he’s going to be a teen father, and he feels like he’s disappointed her. This leads to them cutting off contact for a year, until Laura’s marriage breaks up and Maurice moves back to the city to care for his dying mother. He’s opened his own business and is doing well for himself, and he and Laura make up and resume their friendship. By the end of the book, Maurice has started his own construction business and has five children. He’s able to afford a home like the one Laura’s sister owned, and loves his children. Both he and Laura feel they are better people for knowing each other.

Laura Schroff is a former advertising executive turned author. She has written or co-written three books based around the events described in An Invisible Thread. Alex Tresniowski is an American non-fiction author and journalist. He is a frequent collaborator with non-professional authors telling personal narratives, including entrepreneur Joy Mangano and kidnapping survivor Paul Joseph Fronczak.