Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
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.
invaluable insight, edits, and hard work that were key to making Breaking Night possible. Travis, thanks for the many late nights, for being count-on-able, for lending your time and exceptional talent for poetry to the details of this project. This book would not be the same without you. Thanks to my dear friend and sister, Eva Bitter, for helping lay the foundation of this book. Eva, your insights and edits were key in shaping the expression of my story, and your support and love throughout the
Ma’s lap. For days after that, the questions didn’t cease. “Lizzy, tell Ma about every time Ron made you feel bad, baby. You can tell me, pumpkin, please.” The shame was so heavy, I couldn’t look Ma in the eyes, and my throat ached when I told her how afraid I was in the bath, and how worried I was when Ron pinched Stephanie’s chest because she’d misbehaved. Then I told Ma about the time he helped me with my zipper, privately, in Tara’s room, his fingers scraping against my skin. I couldn’t
make room for her lunch tray. “She’s a slut, and her name is Penelope,” Sam answered without looking up. “This girl would do anyone, even Mr. Tanner, in two shakes of a lamb’s tail.” I laughed instantly, almost too loudly. Mr. Tanner, an older, head school figure with gray hair and rough skin, had entered the cafeteria right on cue. A moment earlier and her comment would have been different. She’s quick, I thought. We watched him stop and cup his hands, forming a bullhorn. Hundreds of kids
bathed her, he didn’t budge from just outside the bathroom door, no matter how much I insisted, “I have it from here Carlos, really.” Instead, he spoke clearly through the thin wood, directly to Ma. “Jean, Liz told me about how you call her pumpkin. I think that’s adorable. I call her Shamrock ’cause she’s the luckiest thing that’s ever come my way. I know you talked to her a lot at night, too, always sitting at the foot of Liz’s bed to keep her company.” Ma’s eyes opened wearily. Tears rolled
kissed my forehead, kissed my cheeks. Then he kissed me on the mouth, tenderly, slowly. I kissed him back and tasted salt, felt the bristly hairs from his goatee, felt his strength, his size, holding on to me. “I love you, too,” I said, pulling back to meet his eyes. “What did you say, shorty?” “I love you, too, Carlos. I love you.” His grip grew firmer. “I’m right here,” he repeated, pressing my head to his chest, pulling him tighter to feel his warmth and his heartbeat drumming against my