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.
"To stand in one truth and allow yourself to be seen is one of the bravest things an individual can do. In her memoir, Brenda Myers-Powell is brave, authentic, and a bit gritty in a remarkable way. At every moment in Leaving Breezy Street you felt you were there, experiencing the pain and finding the resilience to keep pushing to find joy through it all alongside her." --Marcus Samuelsson, author of Yes, Chef: A Memoir
"Brenda Meyers-Powell's story is testament that there are, indeed, second acts in life. Her journey as told in Leaving Breezy Street is remarkable, if not chilling, as she faces a cascade of violence and betrayal, mostly at the hands of men. But astonishingly she never loses her verve or her humor, and emerges on the other side not only intact but as an inspiration." --Alex Kotlowitz, author of An American Summer, winner of the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize
About our Speakers
Brenda Myers-Powell has been advocating for victims of sex trafficking since 1997. She is the co-founder and executive director of the Dreamcatcher Foundation, and has sat on the board of numerous organizations. In 2020, she was selected to serve on the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking. Brenda's work with Dreamcatcher and victims was the focus of the Sundance Award-winning documentary Dreamcatcher.
Featured in The Guardian, Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Reader, on WBEZ, and on international television and radio, Nikki Patin has been writing, performing, educating, and advocating for over two decades. She has taught hundreds of workshops on performance poetry, body image, sexual assault prevention and LGBT issues. Patin has released several chapbooks, a full-length collection of writing and design, two EPs and a full-length album entitled “Bedroom Empire." In 2014, she made history when she addressed the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland on behalf of Black women survivors of sexual violence in the U.S. Nikki Patin holds an MFA in Creative Non-Fiction from the University of Southern Maine. Patin is the Community Engagement Director for the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation and the founder and Executive Producer of Surviving the Mic, a survivor-led organization that has crafted its own methodology of holding brave and affirming writing and performance spaces for survivors of sexual harm. Nikki Patin is a queer, non-binary survivor of both domestic and sexual violence and single Mama to a son with autism.
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