Customer Reviews for

Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard

Average Rating 4
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

25 out of 25 people found this review helpful.

Inspiring and Empowering! Breaking Night is an inspiring &

Inspiring and Empowering!

Breaking Night is an inspiring & empowering book. Liz Murray’s writing is so descriptive and eloquent. I felt I was there with her throughout all of her experiences. Liz’s success story stems from the power of forgiveness, compassion and...
Inspiring and Empowering!

Breaking Night is an inspiring & empowering book. Liz Murray’s writing is so descriptive and eloquent. I felt I was there with her throughout all of her experiences. Liz’s success story stems from the power of forgiveness, compassion and community. Her journey of growing up with drug addicted parents, being homeless in her teenage years, and finally graduating from Harvard, is a true testament that forgiveness and community can shift a person’s reality. Liz forgave her parents for not being present in her childhood, and had friends/teachers who supported her during her homeless period. She didn’t listen to her thoughts that encouraged her to give up – she kept going for her life, learning respect, diligence and compassion along the way. I feel so enlivened by reading this book. It is beautifully written – a love story about life.

I also recommend Ariel & Shya Kanes’ How to Have a Match Made in Heaven. This book is full of true stories of people who find forgiveness, compassion and kindness for themselves. After reading this book, I have found all my relationships (especially my relationship with myself) to be truly magical and full of love. There are also video links included in the book so you can actually see the people you read about!

If you want to experience the success you have dreamed is possible (in all areas of your life), I highly recommend both Liz Murray’s and the Kanes’ books for your library.

posted by Colleen33 on November 19, 2012

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Most Helpful Critical Review

3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

This book was a total disappointment. A story of a young woman w

This book was a total disappointment. A story of a young woman who chose to be homeless rather than live with her mother and her mother's boyfriend or to live in a group home; who chose not to attend school for essentially her entire elementary school years and then was...
This book was a total disappointment. A story of a young woman who chose to be homeless rather than live with her mother and her mother's boyfriend or to live in a group home; who chose not to attend school for essentially her entire elementary school years and then was lucky enough to get into an "alternative high school" where after 2 years she earned a high school diploma. She went from not knowing where Europe was 2 years before to being Harvard caliber student Really? Is she an inspiration to homeless youth? No, she won the lottery and Harvard has played that card - they will continue to recruit A+ students who receive perfect scores on their SAT's and who publish books, or concertize or play on the pro golf circuit as their incoming freshman. She wonders why her sister is indifferent to her or unwilling to discuss the book? - because her sister like so many underprivileged children moved through the system and worked hard. Got a mediocre education from an overcrowded public schools and then despite those odds went to a city college and got a degree. But she will never have the doors open for her the way her sister does with the Harvard degree. Despite making her living as an "inspirational speaker" she should know that inspiration comes from within. In my opinion the admirable people are those that fought that way through overcrowded schools where graduating classes are over 1000 with as few as 2 guidance counselors who attempt to help get kids placed; in reality most kids never meet the guidance counselor, never know about scholarships or loans or any of the options that may be available to them. Those few that make it to college and graduate school and rise above their limitations - those are admirable people. This is just someone who won the lottery and is still capitalizing on it with her Homeless to Harvard biography and website - if you want to read a book about an admirable family who pursues education to the utmost read Gifted Hands the Ben Carson biography.

posted by 239749 on June 28, 2013

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  • Posted November 19, 2012

    Inspiring and Empowering! Breaking Night is an inspiring &

    Inspiring and Empowering!

    Breaking Night is an inspiring & empowering book. Liz Murray’s writing is so descriptive and eloquent. I felt I was there with her throughout all of her experiences. Liz’s success story stems from the power of forgiveness, compassion and community. Her journey of growing up with drug addicted parents, being homeless in her teenage years, and finally graduating from Harvard, is a true testament that forgiveness and community can shift a person’s reality. Liz forgave her parents for not being present in her childhood, and had friends/teachers who supported her during her homeless period. She didn’t listen to her thoughts that encouraged her to give up – she kept going for her life, learning respect, diligence and compassion along the way. I feel so enlivened by reading this book. It is beautifully written – a love story about life.

    I also recommend Ariel & Shya Kanes’ How to Have a Match Made in Heaven. This book is full of true stories of people who find forgiveness, compassion and kindness for themselves. After reading this book, I have found all my relationships (especially my relationship with myself) to be truly magical and full of love. There are also video links included in the book so you can actually see the people you read about!

    If you want to experience the success you have dreamed is possible (in all areas of your life), I highly recommend both Liz Murray’s and the Kanes’ books for your library.

    25 out of 25 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 10, 2010

    this book made me a better teacher

    I once heard Liz Murray speak and made sure to pick up Breaking Night the morning it came out. Her speech was so powerful I never forgot her and I bought her memoir hoping to be similarly moved. I've been reading it on my morning commute and before bed all week and I can't put it down. It's heartbreaking, and beautiful. The story just moves. I'm on page 302 now, nearing the end and the reminder/lesson I'm beginning to take away: no student is a throw away. Each and every student deserves to be treated like they have a chance at a better life. Liz was a "goth" student, hair in her face, dressed all in black, she used to sit in the back of the classroom and hide. The truth is, over the years I've given less time and attention to these students, and I justified it by telling myself THEY needed to change, not me. Breaking Night is a wake up call for me as a teacher, opening my eyes to see that my job is to be my students' biggest advocate, instead of yet another adult casting doubt on them. Liz had teachers who did and did not believe in her and the contrast in the impact they made in her young life is striking. Not only do I recommend Breaking Night to any teacher who has ever felt burnt out and in need of a reminder of why what you do is SO important...but I also recommend Breaking Night to any student who has ever thought of giving up on themselves. This book should be required reading in high schools for teachers and students alike. It holds us all to higher standards.

    12 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2013

    This book was a total disappointment. A story of a young woman w

    This book was a total disappointment. A story of a young woman who chose to be homeless rather than live with her mother and her mother's boyfriend or to live in a group home; who chose not to attend school for essentially her entire elementary school years and then was lucky enough to get into an "alternative high school" where after 2 years she earned a high school diploma. She went from not knowing where Europe was 2 years before to being Harvard caliber student Really? Is she an inspiration to homeless youth? No, she won the lottery and Harvard has played that card - they will continue to recruit A+ students who receive perfect scores on their SAT's and who publish books, or concertize or play on the pro golf circuit as their incoming freshman. She wonders why her sister is indifferent to her or unwilling to discuss the book? - because her sister like so many underprivileged children moved through the system and worked hard. Got a mediocre education from an overcrowded public schools and then despite those odds went to a city college and got a degree. But she will never have the doors open for her the way her sister does with the Harvard degree. Despite making her living as an "inspirational speaker" she should know that inspiration comes from within. In my opinion the admirable people are those that fought that way through overcrowded schools where graduating classes are over 1000 with as few as 2 guidance counselors who attempt to help get kids placed; in reality most kids never meet the guidance counselor, never know about scholarships or loans or any of the options that may be available to them. Those few that make it to college and graduate school and rise above their limitations - those are admirable people. This is just someone who won the lottery and is still capitalizing on it with her Homeless to Harvard biography and website - if you want to read a book about an admirable family who pursues education to the utmost read Gifted Hands the Ben Carson biography.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2010

    This book is life-affirming!

    I work with youth for a living as a counselor in a group home for girls, ages 13-18 and I am always amazed a how resilient they can be. I've seen so many children grow up just like Liz did, abused, neglected, with their parents on drugs, and while most of them don't end up in major universities, it's still incredible how so many of them are able to function as normal people, despite their circumstances. I've seen young people able to trust, to have steady jobs, to get their GED. I am so proud of Liz, and so proud of the young people I work with.

    Breaking Night is life-affirming, and beautifully written. If you work with young people, you'll love this book. Thank you for writing such an amazing memoir Liz. I'm going to share it with all the young people in my group home. Kudos!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 17, 2010

    WOW!!

    I had no idea that children grow up like this in the United States. As a child Liz was starving and forced to watch her parents shoot up their welfare money while she and her sister went without. Yet for some reason she's not angry at them and instead she talks about drugs as the "wrecking ball" tearing through her family. She writes about the experience as though it's not only happening to her but also happening to her parents too. She's not mad at them. Liz felt loved by them, and she forgives their mistakes.

    This is so powerful for me because I struggled for many years with drug and alcohol addiction and it also destroyed my family. Breaking Night seems like it was written for parents and children dealing with the impact of drug and alcohol addiction. They should have this book in every Al-anon and AA center in the country. It shows us that there is life beyond our pain. It shows up that we can heal and forgive, and move on.

    Liz, thank you.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 16, 2010

    Couldn't put it down

    My wife put this book in my hands and insisted I read it. The thing about Breaking Night is that I expected to this woman to feel sorry for herself. Her parents used drugs, contracted AIDS and she ends up homeless. But instead of feeling sorry for herself, Liz just moved through every obstacle life put in front of her and her writing moves in the same way. It just plows forward. I could not put this book down and when I was done I found myself cheering for Liz, moved by her choices and inspired to take on bigger challenges in my own life.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 29, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Fabulous Read!!

    I highly recommend this book! It is so inspiring and truthful. If you enjoy reading books about tough real life situations then this is a great choice for you. Her life is extremely interesting and really makes you think. I always search reviews of books before purchasing books so if you are like me listen to this review and buy it. My only problem with this book is that I agree with other reviewers that the ending is somewhat abrupt and left me wanting more. I wish she would write a sequel with more about her life now. Definitely read this book!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2014

    This novel was unexpected and upsetting because it was a real li

    This novel was unexpected and upsetting because it was a real life experience. Liz Murray’s novel, Breaking Night is a memoir based upon her entire childhood and living with her parents and her sister, Lisa. Her parents were loving in her life but were addicted to drugs which lead the girls to live their own life. They were homeless because their parents always spent their money on drugs instead of basic necessities for themselves and their daughters. Liz had a rough life while growing up in which she explains throughout the entire novel. The main theme of this book is forgiving and succeeding. Liz shows both of these traits by making the reader believe that anything is possible, even when coming from a miserable life, like her own.
    Liz grew up with her parents who never tried to help her succeed. Since her parents did not care, this lead Liz to not care about life. By not caring, Liz would skip school and feel like there would be no consequences. Liz was homeless by age thirteen and she would lose sleep, meals and basic hygiene needs. She explained how at thirteen, “Child Welfare took me into care” and how she was stuck with other girls with “problems” and how she was evaluated on everything that she does. Liz talks about how everyone in Bronx, where she grew up, warned everyone about the child welfare and to stay away. During this homeless stage in her life, she watched her mother die of AIDS. She then later becomes much more successful. She has a huge wake-up call when her mother dies. Although, as a reader, this part of the novel is somewhat upsetting, there is a complete change which makes the mood much lighter and reassuring. Liz goes on to finish high school and then continues her education onto Harvard. That change was completely unexpected because Liz had such a horrible life growing up.
    Liz Murray helps the reader realize that at any time in life, it can be completely flipped and turn out better. Liz is proof that there is no such thing as a life that cannot be changed. She changes her life which is inspiring and also informative. It is obvious in the novel that these challenges cannot be overcome by just anyone, but they can be overcome by someone who is determined. By reading this novel, I have learned to appreciate what I have more because I take eating meals and bathing every day for granted. I learned to also appreciate the support of my family along with having a good education. I cannot say that I have ever experienced any of Liz’s specific problems, I feel like I can put myself in her shoes and make myself feel more fortunate and appreciate everything I have. In order to watch how Liz struggles and overcomes each difficulty in her life, you will have to read the novel to learn how to succeed.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 23, 2011

    Interesting but...

    it ended too quickly and abruptly. I felt like something was missing.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 18, 2011

    Educators Must!

    Anyone in the education field should read this book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 15, 2011

    Inspiring

    This was a well-written memoir- I was equally awed and horrified by Liz's life story- her family, ability to forgive, casualness in conveying the difficulties she faced every day. I was a little surprised at how quickly it ended and was left wondering...is she writing a Part 2??

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 10, 2011

    Difficult Lesson of Survival and Triump

    This book is an unfortunate and graphic tale of what like is really like for some our young people. Well written but sometimes repetitious.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 3, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Extremely Interesting And Inspirational!

    WOW!  What an interesting book filled with insight into poverty, homelessness and drug addiction!  Breaking Night is the memoir of Liz Murray who shares about her life of living with her drug addicted parents, her effort to protect her parents who both contracted AIDS, living at a group home, her dependence on friends while homeless, her determination to go back to school and change her life.  This is a very good book!  It is so hard for me to fathom people actually living like she did.

    Breaking Night shows that a person can change in spite of one's circumstances if they make good choices and work hard.  It is about family relationships, forgiveness, friendship, judging by appearances, survival, overcoming obstacles and being responsible.  Liz overcame many obstacles and found herself with a scholarship from The New York Times and was accepted at Harvard!  Liz is a remarkable person! This is an inspirational book that I highly recommend!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 24, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Great quick read!

    Inspiring story, good, quick and entertaining read. Of course it is well written giving that she went to Harvard and she lays out the background for the story to unfold without being boring. Would definitely recommend!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2011

    Finished with tears in my eyes

    Get this book. It's about a girl who grows up with two parents addicted to drugs and how she overcomes the severe adversity she encounters when both her parents are diagnosed with HIV, a situation that results in her homelessness as a teen. How this woman made it into Harvard off of the streets is beyond me. But perhaps even more remarkable is the fact that she did it without an ounce of bitterness toward her parents, and with nothing but love and forgiveness in her heart.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 20, 2010

    You will NOT put this down!!

    If you are facing any kind of difficulty in life, this is the book that you need. I am forever changed after devouring this book in one sitting. Ms. Murray draws you in the grip of a painful past and does not relinquish you until you've witnessed her redemption. The circumstances she faced may seem extreme, but it's simply a reminder that we are ALL capable of overcoming what life throws at us. I believe in this book, and I promise, you will NOT be disappointed.

    Youtube has a great video review on this book, type Breaking Night Liz Murray in the search engine.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2014

    An absolute MUST read. A story of overcoming a life of struggles

    An absolute MUST read. A story of overcoming a life of struggles. All I can say is Wow. Liz, thank you for sharing your story and inspiring me. Don't walk, run to get this book. You won't be disappointed.

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  • Posted April 26, 2014

    Unbelievable true story! Caught me from the beginning.

    Unbelievable true story! Caught me from the beginning.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2013

    I've been waiting for years to find a memoir as powerful as The

    I've been waiting for years to find a memoir as powerful as The Glass Castle and THIS IS IT! I couldn't put it down and every detail, every memory sent me on a powerful, searing emotional trip. This book will stay with me forever and I'll definitely be adding it to my favorites and "recommend to others" list.

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  • Posted August 6, 2013

    Spectacular, motivating, must read.

    Breaking Night was simultaneously hard to put down, yet often hard to keep reading. Liz Murray's candor about the squalor she grew up in and her personal journey to success is so inspiring and humbling. She gave me a much better idea of what might be going on in the lives of so many teens that I may have judged in the past, but now look at with compassion and well wished. This should be required reading for every parent and every teenager.

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