The Summer I Saved the World... in 65 Days Hardcover – 8 Apr 2014
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Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2014:
"Joyful dividends are reaped from a teenager s secret acts of kindness in this appealingly, unabashedly feel-good story."
"The Bulletin "starred review, May 2014:
Readers, themselves often noticers, will appreciate the celebration of a girl whose skill lies in seeing what others don t.
"From the Hardcover edition."" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
MICHELE WEBER HURWITZ grew up in a suburb of Chicago and still lives in the same area with her husband and three children. Her first novel, "Calli Be Gold, "was on the Bank Street College of Education's Best Books of the Year list (Outstanding Merit). This is her first YA novel. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
After looking around the cul-de-sac, Nina decides to help out her friends and neighbors in small but remarkable ways. She decides to do 65 anonymous good deeds, one for every day of summer vacation. While some of these activities and gifts are planned in advance, others are spur-of-the-moment, but all of them are based on what the people around her truly need. Nina listens to people, and she listens to her heart. She can tell when someone needs a pick-me-up or a helping hand. Sometimes, she simply leaves an item on someone's doorstep or in their mailbox to make them smile; other times, she simply offers them her shoulder to lean on.
Nina's own house could use some smiles, too. Nina's grandmother, who taught her to value simple truths, passed away exactly one year ago. Now, with her lawyer parents immersed in their current case and her college-bound brother barely ever home, Nina yearns to have a real conversation with her family. Meanwhile, her best friend Jorie is flirting with boys and planning their dates for the homecoming dance, but Nina's not really into that yet. Even though she is kind of seeing her long-time friend Eli in a new light...
As the summer continues, some neighbors seem to appreciate the good deeds while others are grow suspicious, thinking they are pranks. Mostly, though, Nina's actions have the intended result: they brighten someone's day and serve as a reminder than somebody cares. As her "little efforts" rub off on others, Nina realizes that "doing good is contagious," and she continues to practice random acts of kindness simply because she likes helping others.
The transition from middle school to high school can be all sorts of things - overwhelming, intimidating, exciting, nerve-wracking, eye-opening - all at once. This book moves through the summer between eighth and ninth grade with a naturally flowing narrative fueled by a thoughtful, selfless protagonist. Nina is truly a good person, without a hidden agenda, which is so refreshing. This novel is filled with moments that are poignant and uplifting without ever being preachy or cloying. Nina's resolve and voice grows stronger, and she is never once tempted to brag about her good deeds.
Many books and films showcase the end of a friendship, often with the old friend burning or blowing off the protagonist. But not all friendships end in a big blow-up. Not all friendships end. They change, just like (as) people change. The bond between Jorie and Nina stretches like taffy throughout the book, stretching and straining as their priorities change. Hurwitz does a wonderful job of examining the strangeness and sadness that comes when friendships are tested, when you feel like you are growing apart from someone you've known for so long:
In first grade, when Jorie moved into the cul-de-sac, we had playdates and did the things first-grade girls do. That was enough back then. But now? Jorie and I are in between two places. Like an intermission between the first and second acts of a play. I'm not sure how things are going to end up. - Pages 9-10
I miss the girl who couldn't glue, brought me the towel after we jumped into the water, made sure I was okay. The girl I knew. - Page 114
This is just one example of the connections Nina makes. Hurwitz masterfully creates distinctive, realistic characters and allows her leading lady to have clear relationships and storylines with different people. This includes her older brother, Matt; her workaholic parents; Eli, her friend who is literally the boy next door; Eli's adorable little brother, Thomas, who fancies himself a superhero; Sariah, a new friend in her summer art class; and others on her street, ranging from high-strung Mrs. Millman, who bosses around her dog and her husband, to the extremely pregnant Mrs. Cantaloni and her energetic three young sons, from the soft-spoken Mrs. Chung to the elusive Mr. Dembrowski. Oh, and a fox.
In short: The Summer I Saved the World...in 65 Days by Michele Weber Hurwitz is delightful. Pick it up, and pay it forward.
Favorite supporting character: Thomas.
Favorite (and unexpected) scene: Running. (Another favorite moment: The swings.)
This is Michele's second novel for tweens. If you liked Nina's story, make sure to pick up the author's first book, Calli Be Gold! Also check out See You At Harry's by Jo Knowles (alert: you'll need Kleenex for that one) and The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin. On the surface, these books might not seem that similar, but consider them like a variety pack, your summer trail mix, with different but complimentary flavors.
Easy to recommend to 6th graders looking for a novel with a first kiss and some girl drama. Nina has a good head on her shoulders, and makes a likable neighbor and friend.
About me: I'm a middle school/high school librarian
How I got this book: checked out from the library
It seems that a lot of children's lit focuses on the time right before middle school, but I don't read as much that focuses on this time. It was a good book that could appeal to 13 and 14 year olds, but is also fine for 12 and ups to read (maybe even younger), looking ahead to that time.
There's mild romance and kissing, and Nina's homelife is pretty sad, with workaholic parents who basically neglect her, but she was a sweet heroine who took this pivotal time to figure out who she wants to be. There are a lot of things in her life that she can't control, like her best friend getting a little boy-crazy and more superficial, or her parents lack of attention, or worrying about not fitting in at a new school, but she decides to take the summer and focus on doing 1 good thing each day. She's saving the world one good deed at a time.