Homeless to Harvard Movie Review
Through this Homeless to Harvard movie review, I want to introduce you a beautiful TRUE story of a homeless girl who changed her life around, overcame her struggles, and got accepted to Harvard University.
Before I begin to share my perspective here’s a little trailer.
In my opinion, this movie is not just about how “glorious” and “inspiring” it is that she have overcome her harsh condition and made it to Harvard University, but there’s more to it. I do not see it as another one of those typical “zero to success” type stories.
I think the movie was intended to just simply tell her story and her world. It was not necessarily intended to glorify her achievement or feel sorry for what she had gone through.
Of course, it is heart wrenching to see what she had gone through and it is amazing how far she have come, and I am not trying to downsize this, but I believe the main intention of this story isn’t about this “homeless girl who made it to Harvard,” but…. it’s simply about a girl named Liz Murray.
It is to paint, express, and show her smiles, cries, pains, and hope through this move. Also it is to share stories of others that were in her life as well.
Anyways, here her story….
Liz Murray lived with her parents and her sister in the Bronx before she was put into care system. Her family was very dysfunctional. Her mother was addicted to drugs and was schizophrenic. Her dad was very intelligent but was also a drug addict. Both of her parents had HIV Virus as well. Since both her parents were very strung out on drugs, two sisters struggled to take care of themselves.
(Her dad was from a dysfunctional family as well. He was dealing drugs to make his ends meet. Her mother was from a physically and sexually abusive family. She started doing drugs at an early age to escape from her abusive family. Later on she ran away from home and lived in the street doing drugs and supported herself through prostitution. That’s how their parents met.)
Liz often missed her school. Being poor, she did not have proper clothes or hygiene. She did not like going to school because she did not want to be singled out as one of those poor smelly kids.
Although their parents were never physically abusive towards her or her sister, they never really bothered to take care of them either. They were too busy with their drug habits.
Eventually, she was taken to a care system where kids with behavior problems were “evaluated.” She witnessed a lot of violent behaviors from other girls while she was in the system.
After a couple of months, she went to live with her mother at her grandfather’s place. Her grandpa used to physically and sexually abuse her mother and her aunt in the past. While she was living there, she was also attending school and met a girl named Kris whom she have became close friends with.
For the first time, she started having friends to hang out with. Kris also suffered sexual abuse at home. Both being that they came from dysfunctional families and along with other kids, they bonded well. However, despite that her group of friends likes to use drugs, Liz tried to stay away from using them. Witnessing her parents falling apart from drug usage was enough for Liz to know what it can do to her.
After an argument with her grandpa and Kris not wanting to go back home because of the abuse she suffers at home, they decide to run away from their home and start to live in the street. She was only 15.
Becoming Homeless…Mother’s Death..
Liz and Kris will sleep anywhere they can find including inside subway trains, sometimes at their friends, and etc. They’d beg for money in the streets or shoplift to get by.
At 16, she discovers that her mother died from AIDS. This prompted her to wake up from her downward spiral and decides to go back on studying. She signs up for an alternative school program that helps to finish high school. She had to hide her homeless status and find her dad at a homeless shelter to help her fabricate address and his status to start the program.
As they separate, there’s a memorable quote she says towards her dad.
“You know, when I was little, you were the most interesting thing in my world. Everyone was just talking about drugs or sex or you know just trying to survive the day. But you always had ideas. Because of you, I know that there’s another way of being.”
Academic Success…Scholarship to Harvard
Being so determined to finish the school within two years, she starts to study everywhere she goes. She studies in subway trains. She studies while she’s working odd jobs. Also for the first time she feels like she has a direction and order in her life. She also becomes the top student in her program.
Being the top student, she is selected to travel to Boston and tour around Harvard University. This opens up a new world in her. She enters an essay contest that will guarantee a scholarship to Harvard University if she wins.
She finally reveals her whole story. Her story of her struggles, struggles of others, the love that she never forgotten about her mother and the love that mother had for her despite of her own struggle. She wins the contest and she gets the scholarship to Harvard University.
During her final speech, one of the guys asks her a question that if there’s anything that she would change if she were able to. She says, “I’d give it all back….if I can have my family back.”
If you are interested in learning more about the film, click here.