Thursday, September 26, 2013

Breaking Night by Liz Murray-Things a Book Taught Me

The Homeless to Harvard Story...

Breaking Night was a recommendation from my friend, Jennifer, and I am so glad that I decided to finally read this book! Late to the party? Yes. However, I'm so glad I finished it. I read this book at a time when the grind of teaching had started to seep in, and I was losing some of my steam with my more challenging students. As teachers, there is something to be said about returning from a vacation (or even a day) off of teaching. The break from students and your work gives you a much needed reprieve, and renews your resolve. The break reminds me I am doing good things. Somehow after a break, I remember this more resolutely.
Breaking Night is a memoir about Liz Murray's life. When I started out reading it, I was about 3/4 of the way through the book when I was wondering how in the world a kid like her ended up at Harvard! Her story was devastating. What sticks with me is the showers she was forced to take in her apartment she shared with her parents and sister. The sludge at the bottom of the shower was so thick, and the stench so permeating, she was forced to overturn a bucket, stand on top of the bucket, and hold her breath. The fact that she learned at such a young age of her parents' crippling addiction to drugs and alcohol. She is entered into the system, and ends up in a group home, but we all know how that works. It's horrible! It is never a substitute for parents who truly love and care about you. 
This whole book taught me so much. While it devastated me to read about her life, it also inspired me. As I read her tale, I realized more than ever how many of our students suffer every night, and we have no idea. We come to work often blithely unaware of any atrocities that may have occurred at home. Our singular focus is on achievement, and bringing our students up to proficiency. I understand the importance of that, but I also understand that they need love. They need acceptance, nurturing, coddling. Sometimes they just need food, or a haircut, or some new underwear.  Take a moment to pause. Think about what these students may need other than to learn their multiplication facts, or the three types of sentences. There are things bigger than them that they cannot control, and you can either be part of their solution or part of their problem. 
YOU.CAN.CHANGE.THEIR.LIFE. Do it. Dare yourself to pause a moment. Think of the child. Look them in the eyes. What do you see? 
If you look deep enough, you will see that they are a child out of sync with a controlled environment. They don't understand that. They know chaos, they live and breathe it. Be patient with their behavior that appears of of control, and let them know that at school we have rules to protect people, and you are here to protect them. It's a challenge I issued myself after reading Breaking Night. Make someone's day better. Every dang day-Just Do It. Like Nike. Every Dang Day.

Liz Murray may be in your class.
Be the inspiration. 

I love you all. Be blessed!

Monday, September 2, 2013

My "Fall Books" Wish List

Every season there are books that I put on my wish list, and if I had all the time in the world to read (why, Universe, why?) I would sit down, and read these books back-to-back, and cover-to-cover.

The Fairest of Them All by Carolyn Turgeon
In this kingdom, only one fairy tale can end with happily ever after.
In an enchanted forest, the maiden Rapunzel’s beautiful voice captivates a young prince hunting nearby. Overcome, he climbs her long golden hair to her tower and they spend an afternoon of passion together, but by nightfall the prince must return to his kingdom, and his betrothed.

Now king, he weds his intended and the kingdom rejoices when a daughter named Snow White is born. Beyond the castle walls, Rapunzel waits in her crumbling tower, gathering news of her beloved from those who come to her seeking wisdom. She tries to mend her broken heart but her love lingers, pulsing in the magic tendrils of her hair.

The king, too, is haunted by his memories, but after his queen’s mysterious death, he is finally able to follow his heart into the darkness of the forest. But can Rapunzel trade the shadows of the forest for the castle and be the innocent beauty he remembers?

Help for the Haunted by John Searles
John Searles’s Help for the Haunted is an unforgettable story of a most unusual family, their deep secrets, their harrowing tragedy, and ultimately, a daughter’s discovery of a dark and unexpected mystery.

Sylvie Mason’s parents have an unusual occupation—helping “haunted souls” find peace. After receiving a strange phone call one winter’s night, they leave the house and are later murdered in an old church in a horrifying act of violence.

A year later, Sylvie is living in the care of her older sister, who may be to blame for what happened to their parents. Now, the inquisitive teenager pursues the mystery, moving closer to the knowledge of what occurred that night—and to the truth about her family’s past and the secrets that have haunted them for years.

Capturing the vivid eeriness of Stephen King’s works with the compelling quirkiness of John Irving’s beloved novels, Help for the Haunted is that rare story that brings to life a richly imagined and wholly original world.

The Good Wife by Jane Porter
Is it possible to love someone too much?

Always considered the beauty of the family, the youngest Brennan sister, Sarah, remains deeply in love with her husband of ten years. Boone Walker, a professional baseball player, travels almost year-round while Sarah stays home and cares for their two children. Her love for her husband is bottomless—so much so that her sisters say it will end up hurting her.

Living apart most of the time makes life difficult, especially since Sarah often wonders whether Boone is sharing his bed with other women on the road, even though he swears he’s been true to her since his infidelity three years ago. While she wants to be happy and move forward in her life, Sarah constantly fears that Boone will break his promise. Now with Boone facing yet another career change, tension rises between the two, adding more stress to an already turbulent marriage. Emotionally exhausted, Sarah can’t cope with yet another storm. Now, she must either break free from the past and forgive Boone completely, or leave him behind and start anew . . .

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty
My darling Cecilia, if you’re reading this, then I’ve died. . .

Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive. . . .
Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.

Acclaimed author Liane Moriarty has written a gripping, thought-provoking novel about how well it is really possible to know our spouses—and, ultimately, ourselves. 

I'll let you know which of these I choose to read next. My TBR pile is out of control, but I am really looking forward to reading these. Are there any reads that you've read, and think should be on this list? Please share!

Have a blessed day!