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Books  >>  Biography

Liz Murray

Breaking Night

Liz Murray Breaking Night A Memoir Of Forgiveness Survival And My Journey
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Biographical note:

LIZ MURRAY was left homeless at age 15 after her mother's death from AIDS. She fended for herself on the streets, eventually returning to high school. She was accepted into Harvard, where she attended college classes for three years before taking time off to help her father, who died of AIDS. She returned to college, and is now taking graduate courses at Harvard. Liz gives speaking engagements around the country. A movie about her life, Homeless to Harvard, was made by Lifetime in 2003, and airs frequently.

Main description:

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.

Review quote:

"Breaking Night reads more like an adventure story than an addiction-morality tale. It's a white-knuckle account of survival. . . . By age 6, Murray knew how to mainline drugs (though she never took them) and how to care for her strung-out parents. She showed uncanny maturity, even as a child, and later managed to avoid that malady of teenagers and memoir writers, self-pity. . . . Murray's stoicism has been hard-earned; it serves her well as a writer. Breaking Night itself is full of heart, without a sliver of ice, and deeply moving."

Review quote:

"Education was the miracle that saved Murray's life. . . . Her story is inspirational, and her description of [her high school], and its role in her life, should be read by everyone concerned about education."

Review quote:

"From runaway to Harvard student, Murray tells an engaging, powerfully motivational story about turning her life around.... In this incredible story of true grit, Murray went from feeling like "the world was filled with people who were repulsed by me" to learning to receive the bountiful generosity of strangers who truly cared."

Review quote:

"Liz Murray shows us that the human spirit has infinite ability to grow and can never be limited by circumstance. Breaking Night is a beautifully written, heartfelt memoir that will change the way you look at your community, the obstacles in your own life, and the American Dream. An inspiration; a must-read."

Review quote:

"The admirable story of a teen who overcame homelessness through sheer grit and the kindness of friends ... An uplifting story of survival."

Review quote:

"Truly uplifting ... Liz Murray has shown us the worst, and the very best, of America."


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