July 19, 2016

Breaking Night...another book review.

Yeah, I wasn't kidding when I told you I'd been reading more lately.  Turns out when you read more, you find more books to love...who knew?  Also, it turns out when you realize you are down to the second to the last season of a show you love (Parenthood...seriously, even if you aren't a parent this is an AMAZING show - okay, Netflix...I'm done sending you all this love for free) you tend to slow down on the binge watching in order to "savor" it.  True story.

But back to the reason you are here....

Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard by Liz Murray is a compelling read.

And by "compelling" I mean this should be required reading for every high school across the land.  I almost think it should be required reading for every middle school but some of the content would be hard for most middle schoolers to comprehend unless they were living a parallel existence...and the fact that there ARE middle schoolers out there (or younger) who ARE living a parallel existence breaks my heart.

Generally, I don't do memoirs...I don't know why, but I don't.  I'm more of a fiction kind of girl.  But this story caught my interest when a co-worker mentioned she was reading it after seeing the author speak at a luncheon she attended.  She gave me a brief synopsis of the book and I was intrigued.  The coworker offered to lend me the book after she finished - although she had promised it to another first - because she knew I was a fast reader.

And let me tell you, once you pick this one up you won't be able to put it down!  I started the first chapter Friday night and by Sunday afternoon with only about 40 or so pages to go, I was reluctant to put it down to attend a play I had actually talked my husband into attending with me!

Yes, I know.  You are absolutely shocked that he agreed to go to a play with me...I was too!!  I'll try to post about that next time.

Here's the synopsis that Amazon has on their website:

Breaking night: (Urban slang) staying up through the night, until the sun rises.

Breaking Night is the stunning memoir of a young woman who at age fifteen was living on the streets, and who eventually made it into Harvard.

Liz Murray was born to loving but drug-addicted parents in the Bronx.  In school she was taunted for her dirty clothing and lice-infested hair, eventually skipping so many classes that she was put into a girls' home.  At age fifteen, Liz found herself on the streets when her family finally unraveled.  She learned to scrape by, foraging for food and riding subways all night to have a warm place to sleep.

When Liz's mother died of AIDS, she decided to take control of her own destiny and go back to high school, often completing her assignments in the hallways and subway stations where she slept.  Liz squeezed four years of high school into two, while homeless; won a New York Times scholarship; and made it into the Ivy League.  Breaking Night is an unforgettable and beautifully written story of one young woman's indomitable spirit to survive and prevail, against all odds.

This blurb doesn't begin to do this book justice.  What this woman/child went through is heart wrenching.  But what amazed me the most?  Was the child's ability (because she WAS a child when this all began) to see things as they were and her will to try to change them.

*mini spoiler alert - but really if the sub-title didn't give away the ending to you then we have bigger things to talk about...*

As a mere child, she tried to will the safety of her parents as they scavenged for drugs in the middle of the night...figuring if she could stay up until they got home they would be okay.

It was also frightening to think that, up until she was shown a different lifestyle, she thought this was normal behavior for most families.

This little girl figured out ways to make money in order to eat when she was hungry.

What this child/woman has accomplished, in spite of all the obstacles standing in her way, leave me in awe.

This book is a testament to what we can do - if we put our minds, hearts and souls into the endeavor - when we seek a goal to achieve.

I would definitely, without reservation, say that if you only read ONE book - ever... (which honestly?  I can't even finish that sentence because...who can only read ONE book in their lifetime?! It would be a crime to limit oneself to one book)...

Okay, let me re-phrase that...

If you are looking for a book to inspire you...one to remind you of what kind of good mankind has to offer (and aren't we all looking for that right now, with all that is going on?) and one to remind you that forgiveness and love really does conquer all...then this is a book you need to read.


  1. I saw the movie. (Homeless to Harvard)

    I watched every episode of Parenthood! Love it!

  2. I just put a hold on the book at the library, so it'll be showing up soon. Thanks for the review. And I too loved Parenthood! I still get a little weepy when I think of the ending. :-)

  3. Just received a check for $500.

    Sometimes people don't believe me when I tell them about how much money you can get by taking paid surveys at home...

    So I show them a video of myself actually getting paid $500 for doing paid surveys.