Candice Hannani, Staff Writer
Last year, many students were encouraged to read Unbroken and meet Louis Zamperini, the man who miraculously survived the WWII Japanese POW camps described in the book. Yet there is another hero who deserves recognition for becoming successful despite a formerly tumultuous life.
Through her memoir Breaking Night, Liz Murray vividly writes about her childhood with drug-addicted parents and her homelessness as a teenager, but her ability to fight back at her struggles and ultimately become accepted into Harvard. Her writing offers a rare look into the detailed life of a girl who clings to the hope that she will endure the obstacles that threaten to tie her down.
By the age of six, Murray is used to her parents shooting up cocaine in front of her. She describes the walls that are filled with blood splotches from drug abuse, her quests to find food to eat when her parents run away with the family’s money to seek a drug dealer and her dirty clothes, which constantly provoke insults and contemptuous laughs from classmates.
During her teenage years, Murray becomes homeless and begins to wonder about her future. With incredible and newly-found determination and responsibility for herself, she begins high school at a time when she should be a junior; she crams four years of high school into two, all while living on the streets.
As the average student stresses about acing classes to get into a top college, Murray faces additional pressures: where she will sleep each night, where and when she will eat. Her writing leaves any student thankful to come home each evening to a family that will supply daily needs and support, and that hunger will be satisfied simply by walking a few steps to the refrigerator.
Despite all the abuse she faces, Murray offers no self-pity in her writing; she reasons that her parents were trying their best to give her what they had, and her love for them never falters.
Murray concludes with a thoughtful belief that summarizes her book in one sentence: “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.”