Breaking Night

Monday, May 16, 2011

Not to be confused with Breaking Dawn.

Breaking Night is a book that Vic randomly picked up from the library a few weeks ago for me. It changed something inside of me. It changed a part of me. It is incredible. It is unbelievable. It is inspiring and deeply touching--and I really, really, really think you should read it.

You may have heard of Liz Murray, I learned that Lifetime did a movie about her life. The subtitle of Breaking Night is "From Homeless to Harvard." Is this ringing any bells?

Liz Murray is a survivor. She defied all odds to make it out of a very broken, drug-addicted home and life on the streets in the Bronx to graduate from high school and eventually be accepted to Harvard. Yes, this is a true story. Yes, it is painful to read. Yes, she was truant from school most of her life, had pre-martial sex, stole food in order to survive, lied, and watched as both her parents shot up every night of their lives. And she is real, amazing, strong, and wherever she ends up in the next life is where I want to be. She was abused, betrayed, and left to figure out life on her own at a very young age. She never stopped loving her parents. Even to both of their deaths from AIDS.  She endured a life of pain like very few people I know.

Her words spoke to me and came at a time I desperately needed them. I haven't stopped thinking about her since I finished the book over two weeks ago. As soon as I finished the last page I wanted to start over on page 1. As horrific as her childhood was, I longed to be back with her on the streets of New York City, fighting the fight. I loaned the book to a friend and ordered him to read it as soon as possible, under penalty of death, so I would have someone to discuss it with. I checked in with him three times a day to find out what page he was on and what was happening in Liz Murray's life. Now that he finished it, I feel like we have another mutual friend in our lives whom we love.

And I want you to meet her. Go to your library and meet her. Breaking Night. Go. Do. Read.
You will love it.
I promdress.

A few great quotes from the book: {Which are even better when read in context}

"In the years ahead of me, I learned that the world is actually filled with people ready to tell you how likely something is, and what it means to be realistic. But what I have also learned is that no one, no one truly knows what is possible until they go and do it." 

"I knew at that moment I had to make a choice... I could submit to everything and live a life of excuses, or I could push myself... I could push myself and make my life good..." 

"‎'Homeless person or business person, doctor or teacher, whatever your background may be, the same holds true for each of us: life takes on the meaning that you give it." 

"Instead, what I was beginning to understand was that however things unfolded from here on, whatever the next chapter was, my life could never be the sum of one circumstance. It would be determined, as it had always been, by my willingness to put one foot in front of the other, moving forward, come what may." 

Speaking of putting one foot in front of the other--I'm running the Ogden half marathon this weekend for my Lucy Girl. I will be wearing my bright pink "Lucy" wristbands that one of my awesome blog readers sent to me. I will think of her every step of the way. Three years separated from her, but three years closer...


  1. Loooove a good book recommendation. I've been in a serious crappy-reads funk. thanks!

  2. Never saw the movie but now I'm excited to read the book. Thanks for the recommendation. Have a great 'Lucy' run. Three years...the day is coming and you've been a special part of my prayers lately in anticipation. You'll make it through!!!

    Love you, Jan

  3. Good luck on the race. I'll be right there with you. I'll keep an eye out for you. However I'm guessing that if I do see you, it will only be the back of your shirt as you pass me. :) My training has been, shall we say.... less than awesome. :) Good luck. Have fun. I'll think of your sweet girl when I see the beautiful waterfalls and I'll be sending good vibes your way.

  4. Jennie,

    If you do see me at some point, PLEASE come talk to me, body odor and all.

  5. It sounds like she is an amazing woman! Good luck with your race this weekend!

  6. Sounds fascinating. I will definitely read it!


  7. Just wanted to comment here so you know I still read your blog. I love the quotes from the book. I can't believe it's the middle of May again for you. I can't believe your weather in Utah! It's been worse than Boston for like 9 months and that's saying something! (I get weather updates for Salt Lake and Boston on my computer every day... I like comparing them to my new and far superior weather forecast!)

  8. In Mormon venacular, I know Liz Murray is "true." This is one of the most inspiring stories I have ever read. It will take you to places you probably have never been, i.e., the subculture of the homeless and the subculture of the drug addicted (not necessarily the same). What is most amazing about this story is that you learn about the prevalence of love and friendship in the worst of circumstances. I want to be the friend Liz is to her friends. I want to a be son like she is a daughter to her parents. I want to be the teacher who looked past Liz' appearance and gave her a chance. I want friends like Liz has.

  9. 'Three years closer', I love that perspective. Best wishes for your marathon.

  10. I need a book at the moment so I will go pick it up.
    Congrats on the marathon. I am running the St. George. I am starting to train.
    You are inspiring. I love the last line of this post.

  11. I purchased Breaking Night per your suggestion and LOVED it. What an amazing story. Thanks for the recommendation. I'm forwarding it every reader I know!


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