For the thousands of children in the world who grew up in a dysfunctional home, Liz Murray's Breaking Night is an emotional tour de force.

Breaking Night book cover
Hachette Books

On one hand, I was outraged by her kindergarten teacher's neglect and the social worker's threats to remove Liz from the home. Many times throughout the book I asked myself, "Why didn't someone do something to help Liz and Lisa?" However, I also understand the love and devotion we as children have for our parents no matter what the situation. On one level, we desperately seek the affection and closeness of our parents and at the same time we understand that our family isn't exactly like everyone else's. A truth hard to decipher as a young child but a reality just the same.

Liz relates to the reader the many times her stomach burns from hunger. She explains how the drain in the bathroom is broken so Lisa her sister bathes by standing on a bucket surrounded by dirty water. Liz also details how she feels responsible for the safety of her parents, especially when they cop drugs in the early hours of the morning. Her vigilance in keeping watch keeps her up so late that she is truant in school from kindergarten until she attends Humanities Preparatory Academy.

As I was reading, Breaking Night, I really appreciated the truthfulness in Liz's words and actions.  For instance, Liz gradually comes to understand the meaning of these words after attending a peer education science class from Kate Barnhart: "You must be your own guardian. You get to say what happens to you." Liz sees hope in her future.

Liz Murray
Steve Hart

Then there is the time Liz planned on stealing snacks to eat with her friends, but once she saw how hard the manager of the store worked, she realized the impact her actions have on others. So Liz paid for the food with the money she had in her backpack. "It was not that I never stole again, because truthfully, I did. But that day was the beginning of my never stealing again, and it was the start of a long process of me understanding that I was not, in fact, an island  unto myself." No truer words have been said. Every human on this planet needs to feel connected to another human being.

There are many other examples of Liz demonstrating new life choices which continue to improve her well being. However, sometimes what we need to remember is this," God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." In Breaking Night, Liz gains wisdom the hardest way possible, yet manages to overcome the odds that have been pitted against her. This is an inspiring chronicle of one woman's journey as she rises from the ashes to meet the dazzling brilliance of her future. You will fall in love with Liz, because she proves above all else that if you hold fast to hope, anything is possible.

More From WBSM-AM/AM 1420