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This is one of those books that made me count my blessings. Liz was born to parents who loved her but were unreliable drug addicts. They tried to be good parents, but their own needs came first. Liz grew up not knowing when she would eat her next meal, never having clean clothes, and living in a filthy apartment where even basic maintenance wasn't carried out. Eventually her family fell apart and, as the title suggests, Liz became homeless.

What could have been a very depre This is one of those books that made me count my blessings. What could have been a very depressing autobiography was, in fact, inspiring. Liz had a great sense of self and never let her circumstances define her. Her stories are full of ways in which she took the reins of her own life and provided for herself, even as a young child.

I'm grateful I will never have to endure what she endured, and I'm in awe of her strength. For me, this book was mesmerizing. It's written in first person and at times I had a hard time remembering that I was not Liz. My stomach would rumble and I would wonder where my next meal was coming from before remembering that I am Heidi, not Liz, and I have a whole kitchen full of food. I even caught myself sitting at work wondering where I was going to sleep that night. I finally had to sit down and finish the darned book just so I could get on with my life!

Aug 27, Mary Sue rated it it was amazing. This is truly an amazing and inspirational story. One that I will never forget. Liz's story proves that we are in control of our own lives and our destiny. Her story is definitely heartwrenching as she tells us of her life growing up in a rat infested, filthy NY apartment with her older sister and her drug addicted mentally ill parents.

Her parents, who blew through their welfare check each month on drugs and liquor leaving her and her older sister with nothing. I was amazed how she always loved This is truly an amazing and inspirational story. I was amazed how she always loved them regardless of their neglect, illnesses and addictions.

I was swept away of how strong of a survivor she was, continually overcoming never ending hardships and struggles. As a young teenager, she was homeless, sleeping in stairwells, on the subway, under bridges, or crashing at friends houses once their parents left for the day. Liz was committed to turn her life around and how she belived she could. She is an incredible person and you will constantly be blown away by her strength, maturity and understanding.

Nov 20, Christa rated it it was amazing Shelves: Wow, this was one incredible read--and it's really hard to believe that it's not fiction. I had heard of Liz Murray before--who can forget the catchy tagline "from homeless to Harvard? So when I saw my library had this book, I was excited to give it a shot. The book really reads like a novel. It's very fast-paced, and it doesn't get bogged down with too much "explanation" like a lot of memoirs do the telling Wow, this was one incredible read--and it's really hard to believe that it's not fiction.

It's very fast-paced, and it doesn't get bogged down with too much "explanation" like a lot of memoirs do the telling, rather than showing. I honestly couldn't put it down. The imagery Liz created was so real, especially her description of hunger as a young child. Those parts were gut-wrenching, as were the parts where her parents blow through the welfare check, leaving Liz and her sister knowing that they're going to be hungry until the next one arrives. Her description of her parents was especially interesting, I thought. Yes, they were coke addicts, and they spent the grocery money on their latest hits more often than not, but they weren't terrible people.


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They loved Liz and her sister, but they just couldn't break the addiction. I was really moved by this book--I am definitely not a crier, but the ending of this really had me tearing up when she describes all the help she got from the good-hearted people in her life and later, from strangers , just to help her achieve her dream. It's the kind of book that opens your eyes and sticks with you.

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Granted, my assessment of Murray's book was affected by memories of gripping works by other authors who have managed to emerge intact from childhood experiences that "should" have destroyed their minds, bodies, and spirits. The memoir in which Murray walks us through her journey, though often interesting, collides with my bar. With fewer details, Breaking Night could have been a better book, a more captivating book.

But great nonfiction prose? Mar 27, Andrea Tome rated it it was amazing. What I'm going to say I can say of very few books indeed, but here it goes: Breaking night has changed my life; it has made me a kinder, braver, fiercer person, and I will forever be grateful to Liz Murray for writing it. A goodreads friend recently asked me about my antipathy toward The Glass Castle , and I couldn't for the life of me remember why I gave it only one star.

I think there were some contextual factors at play in my own life at the time. I remember thinking it was hard to believe, and that I wished Jeannette Walls had shared more about how she transitioned from a horrific situation into her current apparently normal one, issues I had with this book as well. I can't really figure out why some rags-to-r A goodreads friend recently asked me about my antipathy toward The Glass Castle , and I couldn't for the life of me remember why I gave it only one star.

The Spice Girls, me & my journey out of homelessness

I can't really figure out why some rags-to-riches, triumph-of-the-human-spirit memoirs Angela's Ashes work for me, and others The Glass Castle don't. I can only say that this one fell in between. I was pretty horrified by Liz's drug-addicted parents and their neglect of her. I'm not sure how much of my disbelief stemmed from my difficulty absorbing Liz's childhood circumstances and how much of it was actual disbelief, especially that Liz could remember conversations and events from earliest childhood in such great detail.

It's a question I have about many such memoirists. Similar to other reviewers, I would have liked to hear more about her complicated relationship with her older sister as opposed to yet more details about her life before she managed to turn things around. Bitter fights, estrangement, and suddenly they're sharing an apartment -- all believable, but I would have liked to understand it better. The relationship between siblings growing up in such horrific circumstances can be interesting and unpredictable.

And yet, the book held my interest and I appreciate Liz's sharing more of the process of turning her life around than Jeannette Walls did, though I still felt that the emphasis on the horrors of her earlier life was more heavily weighted. There were some very inspiring moments and I never felt like it was a chore to read the book, my criticisms notwithstanding. Overall, if you liked The Glass Castle you'll probably like this. And even if, like me, you didn't, there's still a possibility you'll enjoy this one more. View all 9 comments.

Apr 08, Jason Pellegrini rated it really liked it. It's hard to believe that people actually go through this stuff. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I'm reading a memoir and not a piece of fiction; pulling up from the depths of somebody's imagination. Then the reminder that it is all real makes the story that much better! Breaking Night is truly an unbelievable story, but yet it is the truth.

The author's battle to escape the circumstances in which she was born in to and raised in is truly an amazing tale. Then once she decides what she wa It's hard to believe that people actually go through this stuff. Then once she decides what she wants to do and where she wants to go in her life, the fact that she went out and did it, when so many others succumb to defeat because it is just too hard, is such a motivation.

The Spice Girls, me & my journey out of homelessness

If anything is taken from this story, it should be to never give up because there is a light, even at the end of the darkest tunnel. I would recommend this book to anyone, even those who only like fiction. Like I said earlier, this story is so amazing, it could pass as a work of fiction. It is a page turner! And the ending will not disappoint!

Oct 01, Alisha Marie rated it it was ok Shelves: I remember seeing the movie Homeless to Harvard on the day it premiered in Lifetime when I was about I found the film incredibly inspiring. Well, that's not necessarily true. I found it inspiring once Liz started getting her act together, but before then I was just baffled at the choices Liz made. The movie made Liz seem more sympathetic than she actually was. In Homeless to Harvard, the reason that Liz didn't go to school was because she didn't feel right in leaving h I remember seeing the movie Homeless to Harvard on the day it premiered in Lifetime when I was about In Homeless to Harvard, the reason that Liz didn't go to school was because she didn't feel right in leaving her mother, who had AIDS, alone.

In Breaking Night, most of the time that she cut school, she did it to hang out with her friends.


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  4. She didn't go to school because she just didn't feel like it. Not cool, especially if you consider that her older sister, who grew up in the exact same environment, did persevere and ended up graduating high school. Besides all the crap that her sister went through, she decided to get up every day and keep going and not using pathetic excuses to not go.

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    That right there is inspiring. Liz Murray was just not sympathetic throughout most of the book. It was her decision to leave the house that she was living in, her decision to only visit her AIDS-stricken mom once after she left, her decision not to go back to the apartment her sister was living in once everything became to much. Maybe my non-sympathetic thoughts come from the fact that while I was in high school, my family was homeless for a while and I was shuffled from various family members' houses.

    Regardless of that, I graduated high school with honors and went on to college with minimal complaints. So, I just don't see what the huge deal is with having a tough home life and not going to school. She had the choice to attend school at first, she chose not to take it. But again, once Liz actually enrolled in the alternative high school, Breaking Night started getting better. It was inspirational that she actually enrolled in school because it would've been easier to say "Screw it!

    However, the most inspirational thing for me was the number of people who helped her once her article appeared in The New York Times. These strangers capacity to be empathetic and help a complete stranger was just mesmerizing and heartwarming for me. In the end, I thought that Breaking Night was just okay. Not sure if I would recommend it. I do, however, highly recommend the movie. Jan 28, Sonja Arlow rated it really liked it Recommended to Sonja by: This book broke my heart!

    Not only did it shatter me to read about a 4 year old who sees her parents shooting up drugs in the kitchen on a daily basis, having a mother that would steal her birthday money and squander all the welfare money just to score. What was even more upsetting is that these seemingly uncaring parents really loved their children. Its clear in all their interactions with their kids but their drug habits and the grip that their addiction had on them were just too much to fight.

    What also got to me is the way Liz was convinced that if she was just a better child who complained less that she was hungry, or tired or filthy, that her parents would love her more.

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    As I said, heartbreaking stuff. Liz Murray is a talented writer who has an amazing knack for telling a compelling, inspirational story without once being preachy and it will stay with me for a long time. If you enjoyed The Glass Castle , or strong memoirs about beating the odds then you have to read this. View all 4 comments. Jun 01, Lyn rated it liked it. The triumph of Liz' life made it worth reading all the other difficulties she experienced. Her journey was about being raised in a home where her parents' main focus was on where their next high was coming from and advanced to being homeless then arrived to her hope for acceptance to Harvard.

    She was candidly honest in the accounting of her life and articulate in the retelling of the experiences as well as her feelings towards what was happening to her. Particularly well developed insights into The triumph of Liz' life made it worth reading all the other difficulties she experienced.

    Particularly well developed insights into her relationships with family and friends. The best books, movies and shows I enjoy have a balance between humor and drama. I read this book quickly, in a few days, compelled to go from chapter to chapter but it was so oppressively sad. Surely she would start making decisions that would change her course, bring her happiness, I kept thinking, but on and on it went from unfortunate to tragic with no relief, no snippets of humor.

    It was almost like there was a tightness in my airway as I read. I kept hoping for more air, knowing it would come but when? When it finally did it was such a relief. Apr 10, Jaksen rated it did not like it Shelves: The same thing over and over. It's not the content; it's the unremitting, unendingness of it. Really, just beat me over the head with this, why dontcha. Initially I gave it no rating, but realizing how far I did get I can certainly offer one star.

    Good God, no, this kind of memoir needs to be written and read. But this one is so unremittingly the sam Can't finish it. But this one is so unremittingly the same same same same same A dnf and one star for continual repetition that put me, despite the content, to sleep. May 30, John of Canada rated it it was amazing Shelves: The writing was glorious;kind,thoughtful and fair.

    Liz Murray has restored my faith in mankind. Sep 12, Camille rated it really liked it Shelves: March book club selection I was really inspired by Liz Murray and what she's been able to make of her life after being raised in such difficult circumstances. The bulk of the book is spent describing her childhood and teenage years, and they are admittedly not easy to read about. Her parents were both drug addicts and not able to provide any kind of a normal childhood for Liz and her older sister. It gave me a profound sympathy for children raised in dysfunctional homes and a better understand March book club selection I was really inspired by Liz Murray and what she's been able to make of her life after being raised in such difficult circumstances.

    It gave me a profound sympathy for children raised in dysfunctional homes and a better understanding of why they have such a difficult time pulling themselves out of the gutter, so to speak. Liz describes the way immediate physical needs take top priority for people in these circumstances, and really, when you never have enough food, sleep, or access to basic hygiene, how can you possibly see going to school and following society's social norms as important?

    Somehow she and her sister were both able to avoid getting involved with drugs or alcohol, and I was amazed at how Liz persisted in trying to keep her family together and maintain good relationships with her parents. She recognized their small acts of love even though neither one of them was in a position to be decent parents, and she and Lisa were the ones who took most of the responsibility of finding food, earning a little money, trying to keep the apartment clean, and caring for their mom and dad when they were high on drugs, tired from lack of sleep, and sick from AIDS.

    As she hits her teenage years, it all becomes too much for her to deal with and eventually she leaves home and begins living on the streets with a couple of friends. More difficulties follow as she struggles to survive the reality of being homeless. She has friends who do their best to help her, but it is still a terribly challenging time. Remarkably, she is able to maintain a vision of possibility for the future through all of this, and eventually she seeks out a place she can finish high school, realizing that an education will give her more options in her desire to make a better life for herself.

    This is where the book really gets good. The school she discovers has a wonderful staff that is dedicated to helping kids who have been consistent failures find a way to succeed, and succeed she does, eventually going on to get a terrific scholarship and be accepted into Harvard. I had a couple of favorite parts towards the end of the book. One was where she described getting her high school transcripts from her old school which were one D grade and the rest Fs to turn in to her new school, and how suddenly she was struck by the fact that the transcript for her new school was totally blank, allowing her the chance at a fresh start.

    She says, "The thought of a clean slate was thrilling, especially after looking at the mess I had created. With all the things that had been difficult, it was one blessing to count on, the knowledge that what I did from this moment on didn't have to depend on what I had done before. Back on Nineteenth Street [at the new school], I asked April to give me a copy of my blank Prep transcripts, which was a simple printout of my name on Prep stationery and rows of blank columns waiting to be filled by my future grades. The blank ones I kept with me at all times.

    They were a reminder that I was, day by day, writing my future. I could not rescue Sam from her family life, but I could be her friend. I could never change Carlos, but I could leave that relationship and take care of myself. It is not having good family that teaches us kindness toward one another and tolerance for the differences between us. It is not having good families that ensures that we know how to balance a check book, and gain good job skills and how to apply those basic skills to maneuver through this world. Without those lessons and empowerments that come from good families, we will be just as lost as ever, no matter where we land.

    Homelessness is an extremely complex issue. Homelessness is caused by a myriad of confluences not the least of which is economics. Alan strives to create the utopian Community First Village, the core components of which food security and economic security are essential. They add to the equation of things but if not there, add to the disintegration of family. Alan has gifted those necessities to those who have either lost them or most often, never had them. By being able to rely on government subsidies for each disabled individual, and with people living minimally, he takes the cost of housing and other living expenses and push them down to a point where these little support checks become a livable stipend.

    This frees everyone from dealing with the financial burdens of life. Their hearts and minds are then able to be opened up to the true meaning of life. What Alan then adds is love. He brings fellowship, born of a shared experience. He brings engagement and economic security. These are the things that we all wish that we had or could have.

    Alan has created a palette for good human interaction. He has written an engaging book about how we can and should act toward one another. Community Village is the story about how we should take care of the disabled, the down-trodden, the abandoned and the hopeless. He has given them and all of us a great gift.

    He reminds us that we are all equal in the eyes of God. A life well lived is one full of love for our fellow human beings. They say that good art can start a conversation. The book is a must read. This book has had such a profound effect on me that I couldn't settle in and write a review until now.

    Well written, especially for a Texan like me, in straight Texanese. Streets and people I am familiar with and especially a Christianity that I haven't seen since childhood. I lapsed decades ago, and felt it was me, but how we see Christianity has changed- as Graham says, the church had gone vegan, sans meat, and his Gospel con Queso which prioritizes 'Love thy neighbor' above anything else has never been more workable than now. Now a proud Agnostic Catholic. One person found this helpful. See all 80 reviews.

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    Amazon Drive Cloud storage from Amazon. Alexa Actionable Analytics for the Web. The Big Issue magazine is read by an estimated , people across the UK and circulates 82, copies every week. After the relationship with his father broke down, Smith-Allison became homeless. He trained as a chef and worked as a classroom assistant but the Spice Girls remains his true calling. SpiceUp — the Exhibition gives him the opportunity to share his love with other fans, and visitors to the exhibition have similar stories about how the group inspired them.

    We speak to people who are leaving the exhibition they will come up and say: