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Friday, 11 January 2013

Catherine Ryan Hyde - Pay if Forward

review live on bookshow by Ro Bennett 10th Jan 2013
This book was also first published in1999
This is the official synopsis: 
It all started with the social studies teacher's extra-credit project: Think of an idea for world change, and put it into action.
Whilst this proved a little ambitious for most of his classmates, twelve-year-old Trevor thought he would start by doing something good for three people. But instead of paying him back, he would ask them to "pay it forward" by doing a favour for three more people. If it all went to plan, Trevor thought, it would be the start of a long chain of human kindness . . .
Sound unlikely to you? Well a lot of other people had their doubts too - Trevor's teacher, his classmates, his mother, in fact everyone in his small California town. It could never really work. . . could it?
I think this could be one of my all time favourite books because of the beautiful idea of paying it forward. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it did work! From 3 people to 9 to 27 to 81 to 243 to 729 to 2,187.... whereupon my maths fails me... I found it an interesting page turner, although at first it seemed confusing because I didn’t know the characters the chapters were referring to. Many different stories are going on at once, but as I read on I realised that this was all part of the unfolding of the story and the various characters’ involvement as it all eventually becomes clear. So it’s a bit of a mystery as well. 
I found it a fascinating book because the author makes the idea come to life with a plot which is complex and layered. The diverse characters are believable and realistic as are the situations. I felt the disappointments as some recipients proved unreliable or a plan went awry. I was excited when some unexpected kindness occurred triggered by Trevor’s initial acts of kindness - results he was totally unaware of. It was a feel good book, and uplifting but also a tear jerker, one of the rare books I will probably read again. 
Inspired by the book I also bought the DVD. I was initially disappointed because it is so completely different, including different characters and story lines. Eventually I had to watch it as totally separate from the book in order to enjoy it. The little boy is gorgeous - he’s the one who was in Sixth Sense. It’s worth watching but read the book first as it’s so much richer and deeper than the film. 
Synchronistically, just after I had read the book a couple of friends on Face book, one in Canada and one in the USA posted a similar idea for the new year. This is what they wrote: 
Creative 2013 Pay it forward. The first five people to comment on this status will receive from me....sometime in the next calendar year a gift. ...of kindness, or perhaps a book, baked goods, a candle, a surprise!!! There will likely be no warning and it will happen whenever the mood strikes me. The only catch.... Those first five people must make the same offer in their Facebook Status.

I’ve shared it and passed it on and I know other people on the island are doing the same. So here we are 14 years after the book was first published, the concept is still going strong which I find lovely and inspiring! 

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