Belonging on the shelf with Jeannette Walls’s The Glass Castle and Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone, Leaving Breezy Street—the stunning account of Brenda Myers-Powell’s brutal and beautiful life—is a critical addition to the American canon.
Fourteen years old, poor, Black, mother dead, two babies to feed and clothe, and a grandmother who is not full of motherly kindness, to put it mildly. What money-making options are open to a girl like Brenda Myers?
When Breezy, as she came to call herself, hit the streets of Chicago as a prostitute in 1973 she was barely a teenager. But she was pretty and funny as hell, and determined to support her daughters and make a living. For the next twenty-five years, she moved across the country, finding new pimps, parties, drugs, and endless, profound heartache. And she also—astonishingly—managed to find the strength to break from a brutal world and not only save herself but save future Breezys.
Great, compelling memoirs can bring us into worlds that have been beyond our comprehension and make us “get it.” What these books tell us is NOT that we can all move beyond the lives into which we were born. The lesson is that everyone deserves to be truly seen by others and offered a path forward.