Title: Pay it Forward
Genre: Fiction, School, Kindness, Conduct, Family, Friends
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars
Ages: 7th grade and up (adults, too!)
I picked this week's "Throwback" title because I was watching the movie based on this book over the weekend. And it doesn't matter how many times I watch the movie, I still love it. Probably because I have always been in love with this title.
From the Publisher:
Catherine Ryan Hyde's international sensation, Pay It Forward, is the moving story of Trevor McKinney, a twelve-year-old boy who accepts his social studies teacher's challenge to come up with a plan to change the world.
Trevor's idea is simple: Do a good deed for three people and ask them to "pay it forward" to three others who need help. He envisions a vast movement of kindness and goodwill spreading beyond his small California town and across the world. However, when Jerry, a bum to whom Trevor gave his allowance, returns to a life of dissolution, the project seems valuable only as a lesson on the dark side of human nature. But ultimately Trevor is vindicated. At first people don't know how to explain the odd dip in crime rates across the nation, but a journalist with a story of his own tracks down the source of the epidemic of random acts of kindness and makes Trevor a celebrity.
Yet Trevor has problems closer to home: he wants his pretty, hardworking mother to see the softer side of his beloved teacher, Reuben St. Clair, a scarred Vietnam veteran who seems to come alive only when he's in front of his class.
Anyone who has ever despaired of one person's ability to effect change will rejoice in Trevor's courage and his determination to see the good in everyone.
This book came out when my now-16-year-old was just a little guy, so it is possible that you have come across it. And the author has written many other titles since then (all of which I LOVE, BTW. Seriously, just check out every book you can find by her and you won't be disappointed). In fact, you have probably even seen this movie (starring Helen Hunt and Kevin Spacey...and Jim Caviezel...bonus!). If not, you must rent it. No, wait! read the book first and then go rent the movie.
Did this book spark the "Pay it Forward" movement or did she simply make it popular? I'm not sure, but I do know that this book is so powerful that it's impact has stayed with me all these years later.