“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.”
― Liz Murray
His dog’s name was Mike and they weren’t homeless, he told me. He had a car that was just getting some repairs done and then they were going down to Florida where his wife Darla lived. At least, that was where he thought she would be. She didn’t really get along with Mike, so they were apart a lot. But Florida would be good for Mike because he wasn’t getting any younger.
They had made a little nest on the steps outside the church next door to the basement flat I’ve been renting in Washington DC these last couple of weeks. Mike was a large German Shepherd mix with lovely manners who held still to have his ears scratched.
We had just eaten our Thanksgiving dinner in the rental flat. My three daughters were there, along with my son-in-law and brand new Grandbaby. We skyped with other relatives, cooked, baked, and reminisced. And we laughed, and ate, and drank, and laughed some more. We had every blessing in the world and then some to be thankful for.
As everyone was leaving, Mike came over to greet us. We waved goodbye to our departing family, and went downstairs to pile a plate with some of everything. When we gave it to the man on the church steps, he said that what they really needed was some water. And some beer would be nice too. We brought back two jugs of the water. Mike was under the blanket with him, and he was leaning back against the dog. It was okay about the beer, he assured us. Before they left for Florida, they were planning to head over to Virginia where his friend Max lived. Max would help him get down to Florida, which would be good for Mike over the winter. And Max would have beer. He and Mike had, he said, a lot to be thankful for. And he wished us Happy Thanksgiving.
When we went up to see if they’d like some breakfast, Mike and his human friend were gone. I hope they make it to Florida.
For this week’s Friday Five Challenge, I put the keyword “homeless” into Amazon. The very first book to come up in the 7,487 results was Breaking Night by Liz Murray. The cover is heartbreaking, but the blurb assures this memoir is “The astonishing story of courage, survival, and overcoming all the odds.”
Rosie Amber’s Friday Five challenge is to take ONLY FIVE MINUTES to browse an unfamiliar category and select a book based solely on the cover art.
Liz Murray never really had a chance in life. Born to a drug-addicted father who was in and out of prison, and an equally dependent mother who was in and out of mental institutions, she seemed destined to become just another tragic statistic. Another life wasted on the brutal streets of New York.
By the age of 15, Liz found herself homeless with nowhere to turn but the tough streets, riding subways all night for a warm place to sleep and foraging through dumpsters for food. But when her mother died of AIDS a year later, Liz’s life changed for ever. With no education, with no chance at a job or a home, she realised that only the most astonishing of turnarounds could stop her heading all the way down the same path her parents took. And so she set her mind to overcoming what seemed like impossible odds – and in the process, achieved something extraordinary.
Told with astounding sincerity, Breaking Night is the breathtaking and inspirational story of how a young women, born into a world without hope, used every ounce of strength and determination to steer herself towards a brighter future. Beautifully written, it is a poignant, evocative and stirring portrait of struggle, desperation, forgiveness and survival.
- Book Title: Breaking Night
- Author: by Liz Murray
- Genre: Memoir
- Publisher: Cornerstone Digital (January 20, 2011)
- Price: $7.55/£4.99
- Reviews: 756 for total of 4.7 out of 5 stars (with 79% at 5 stars)
- Pages: 352
My Analysis: I asked a friend who was a social worker how she found the strength to keep going when the flood of those in need was so overwhelming. She told me that there were those she could help, and so she did. There were those she couldn’t help, and she had to let that go. And there were those she called the “untouched”—children who somehow rise above their circumstances, whether it be poverty, abuse, war, or other trauma—to succeed against all odds. While those are undoubtedly moving and inspirational, they are not Liz Murray’s story. It sounds like she was a child who was absolutely touched and damaged by the circumstances of her life, in which every possible person who should be protecting a little girl was instead so personally damaged as to be incapable of that help. And yes, she did have to find the core of strength and determination within herself to succeed, but equally—or perhaps more—difficult, she had to find a way to accept help.
BUY or PASS: Part of me wants to remind that most homeless children are not going to go from the streets to Harvard, and then on to graduate school. But for my friend the social worker, for all of the children who deserve help and hope, and for the sake of my own brand new grandchild, I want to believe that every child has that chance. So yes, I’ll BUY this book and I’ll believe.
Here is Rosie’s Friday Five Challenge. It only took five minutes and a couple more to write up, and was a ton of fun. I hope you’ll consider joining in. All Rosie asks is that you link back to her original post here so we can all join in viewing your challenge results.
AUTHORS – You often only have seconds to get a reader to buy your book, is your book cover and book bio up to it?
My Friday Five Challenge is this….. IN ONLY FIVE MINUTES….
- Go to any online book supplier,
- Randomly choose a category,
- Speed through the book covers, choose one which has instantly appealed to your eye,
- Read the book Bio/ Description for this book, and any other details.
- If there are reviews, check out a couple,
- Make an instant decision, would you BUY or PASS?
- I’ll be back next week with another Friday Five Challenge, do feel free to join in.