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Breakfast at Sally's: One Homeless Man's Inspirational Journey Hardcover – October 17, 2008

4.6 out of 5 stars 439 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"Sally's" is what the homeless call the Salvation Army's soup kitchen. LeMieux is a first-time author whose memoir chronicles his descent as a conservative publisher who loses his company, his home, his wife and kids, and all sense of hope, until he is called back from a potential suicide by the insistent barking of his beloved dog, Willow. Together, they embark on what is truly the "inspirational journey" of this book's title, living in an old van and moving from town to town. Using a beatup typewriter, LeMieux captures not only what day-to-day life is like for those whose lives have been broken by economic hardship ("from the millions of teenagers on the street to the millions of old heroes stored away in nursing homes across the country"), but also the rich inner life and the wellsprings of hope that he finds in the many people he skillfully and sensitively describes--"people are as real as you can find anywhere." And his own experiences with constant depression, the mental health system that exists for the homeless, and his discovery of life and a sense of hope in his new home of Bremerton, Wash., combine into a moving tale that cuts through the stereotypes of homeless living. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Not so very long ago, LeMieux was a successful businessman. He ran his own publishing company, lived in a house on the beach, drove a cool car, had a loving family. Then, suddenly, it was all gone: his business collapsed, his family left him, he was evicted from his home. He was nearly 60 years old, and he was homeless. This surprisingly uplifting and upbeat book chronicles his life as a man who lived on the streets. In fact, he began writing the book while he was homeless, banging out the manuscript on a salvaged typewriter, writing about his thoughts and emotions and the people he encountered (including the streetwise “C,” who exists in the book as LeMieux’s spiritual guide and sidekick). This really is a remarkable book, powerfully written, inspiring, heartbreakingly honest, and, somehow, frequently quite funny. It belongs side by side with Chris Gardner’s The Pursuit of Happyness (2006), Steve Lopez’s The Soloist (2008), and Alexander Masters’ Stuart: A Life Backwards (2006) as a must-read story of homelessness, determination, and redemption. --David Pitt

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing; 1st Printing edition (October 17, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1602392935
  • ISBN-13: 978-1602392939
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 6.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (439 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #466,272 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By W. C HALL on October 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is a memoir by a man who lost everything--except his humanity. Richard LeMieux had it all--a palatial home, a family, a business, luxury cars, boats--all the outward trappings of success. But after a series of business reverses, he was evicted from his home, abandoned by his family, and found himself living in a van on the streets of Bremerton, Washington, with his dog Willow ("the wonder dog") his only companion.

Richard began writing this memoir on a beat-up manual typewriter while still homeless. Its pages are populated by the many memorable people he met on his journey--some sad, some broken by life and nearing its end, but many others amazingly resilient in the face of adversity. Most memorable among them is a homeless man simply known as C. Whenever C appears, Richard knows an adventure is sure to follow. C turns out to be a skilled dumpster diver and a reliable source of marijuana to a large circle of friends and acquaintances. Sometimes there's embarrassment (such as the time the author and C were asked to leave a Wal-Mart after C protested the store's low wages too loudly). But through acts of kindness great and small chronicled in these pages, C proves to be a beacon of kindness and hope to everyone he encounters. Richard is a former sportswriter, and he shows great skill for observing detail and recording memorable dialogue. You'll truly live the story with him--and be better as a result.

The "Sally's" mentioned in the title is the local Salvation Army mission in Bremerton, where Richard and his new friends found safety, shelter from the unrelenting dreariness of Pacific Northwest winters, hot meals and companionship.

I am an elected official who spearheaded efforts in my community to develop a local ten-year plan to end homelessness.
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Format: Hardcover
In any given day in San Francisco there are over 6,000 homeless individuals. Through personal interaction with those who are homeless I've learned alot about them... and even more about myself.

Richard LeMieux's book is a collection of stories that are raw at times and heart warming others. Richard (and Willow) put a face and a name to homelessness and reminds each of us that many of us are living in a glass house that could be shattered tomorrow.

Books have been written on homelessness in the past, sometimes by those who lived it. What makes this book unique is that Richard had the forsight to write the book while he was homeless - not as a book for you and I to read but as therapy for himself. He carefully introduces you to the charcters he meets and shares there all too real stories.

As someone who loves and works with the homeless, I'm thrilled this book was published. It puts a very human touch on who the homeless are, how someone could end up homeless, what it means to land there and even more remarkably what it takes to get out. If you choose to read this book you will never be the same.
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Format: Hardcover
Richard LeMieux had it all. He had been a successful sportswriter and owned a small publishing company. He had raised three children and travelled extensively with his partner of seventeen years. He lived the 'good life', eating out, spending lots on material goods. Until the bottom fell out - his business failed, his partner left and his adult children and former friends wanted nothing more to do with him. On Christmas Day 2002, despondent and suffering from severe depression, LeMieux attempted suicide. Thankfully he was unsuccessful.

For the next year and a half, he lives with his faithful companion Willow (the Wonder Dog) in his van. Taking many of his meals at the Salvation Army, (hence the title) we meet many of the other homeless and working poor that populate the city of Bremerton, Washington.

Drawing on his writing background and a donated typewriter, LeMieux begins to write a book about his journey. Families living in church parking lots in their cars, camps of young people living peacefully on the outskirts of town, the mentally ill, the addicted. But it is the caring and compassion shown by these downtrodden to each other that strikes such a chord with me. In particular a man only identified as C, who is so responsive to the needs of those in his neighbourhood. There are many, many other stories within this book.

With the economy the way it is, I am sure there will be many more people forced into situations that they would never have forseen or imagined. I am always inspired by memoirs such as Breakfast at Sally's. Not just by the authors, but those who choose to make a difference.
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Format: Hardcover
Few books that I have read can be called a "game changer" in my life. To read Richard Lemieux's account of becoming homeless and the adventures he lived through was a troubling delight. I needed to hear his story and I needed to be disturbed enough to reach out and do something about it. I will be purchasing 50 copies of the book and will give them out as a gift to people in my community who give $1,000 or more to the Salvation Army and all of their wonderful causes.

Whether this changes anyone's life or not it was a great read and a humbling experience vicariously living Richard's life from 2002 to 2006.
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