Breaking Night Book Summary - Breaking Night Book explained in key points

Breaking Night summary

Liz Murray

Brief summary

Breaking Night is Liz Murray's inspiring memoir of growing up in poverty in New York City, overcoming homelessness and drug-addicted parents, and going on to graduate from Harvard University. It's a story of resilience, determination, and the power of education to change lives.

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    Breaking Night
    Summary of key ideas

    Rising from Homelessness to Harvard

    In Breaking Night, Liz Murray takes us on a journey through her tumultuous early life to her remarkable triumph over adversity. The story begins in the Bronx, New York, where Murray was born to drug-addicted parents. Her life was filled with chaos, confusion, and neglect. She describes the constant hunger, the insecure and unsuitable dwelling situation, and the feeling of not belonging. At this point in her life, school only represented a hot meal and she often skipped, eventually dropping out.

    When Murray turned 15, about a year after her mother's tragic death from AIDS, she found herself living on the streets. The pains of homelessness, hunger, and the harsh winter prompted her determination to change her life. She vowed to return to high school, and despite the odds against her, she gained admission to Humanities Preparatory Academy in Chelsea.

    Turning Points and Transformation

    Murray's motivation to succeed was not driven by desperation alone, but also by her mother's aspirations for her. Hunger and the bitter cold pushed her, but the longing to fulfill her late mother's dream proved to be the more potent motivator. At Humanities Preparatory Academy, she applied herself to her studies and provided for her basic needs through various odd jobs. These ranged from selling flowers and magazines to getting part-time work at a real estate brokerage.

    Despite juggling her schoolwork and jobs, Murray excelled acadically, attracting attention from her teachers. She also received encouragement from Perry, a former schoolmate, who'd become her best friend and supporter. With the guidance of her mentors, she applied for the prestigious New York Times scholarship for students in need, impressively, she was chosen as one of the winners.

    Overcoming Educational Gaps

    Breaking Night also sheds light on the not-so-obvious challenges a student like Murray is likely to face. After being accepted to Harvard with her scholarship, she found the transition from a life of homelessness to academic rigor strenuous. She found herself battling with feelings of inadequacy and struggled to keep up due to gaps in her prior education.

    Choosing to confront these feelings of inadequacy head-on, Murray decided to take a leave of absence from Harvard. She devoted this time to personal development and self-education. She completed her GED during this period and returned to Harvard more prepared to tackle academic challenges. Her return marked a new phase in her life as she let go of her past struggles, focusing instead on her education and future.

    The Impact of Support and Determination

    Throughout the narrative, Murray underscores the importance of support from teachers, mentors, and friends in her transformative journey. Their belief in her potential and constant encouragement played a crucial role in her progress. Perry, in particular, plays a significant role in her life, providing emotional support and companionship. However, it was her own resilience and determination that enabled her to overcome difficult circumstances and make something of herself.

    Concluding Breaking Night, Murray's story serves as a powerful testament to the human spirit's resilience and the power of determination. Despite all odds, she transitioned from a life of homelessness and poverty to graduating from an Ivy League university. Her story inspires us by demonstrating that with the right mindset and determination, one's past need not dictate the future.

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    What is Breaking Night about?

    'Breaking Night' by Liz Murray is a gripping memoir that tells the remarkable story of her journey from being a homeless teenager to attending Harvard University. Murray's candid and poignant narrative sheds light on the challenges she faced growing up in poverty and the determination it took to break free from her circumstances and pursue a better life.

    Who should read Breaking Night?

    • Individuals looking for inspirational stories of perseverance and resilience
    • Those interested in understanding the struggles faced by individuals in poverty
    • Readers who want to gain insights into overcoming adversity and achieving personal and professional success

    About the Author

    Liz Murray is an author and motivational speaker whose life story has inspired many. She grew up in extreme poverty with drug-addicted parents, but managed to turn her life around through education and determination. Murray's memoir, Breaking Night, chronicles her journey from homelessness to Harvard. She now travels the world, sharing her story and encouraging others to overcome their own obstacles.

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