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Pay It Forward
Cover of Pay It Forward
Pay It Forward
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An immediate bestseller when first published, Pay It Forward captured hearts all over the world, became a wildly popular film, and spawned a generation of increased altruism. This anniversary edition...
An immediate bestseller when first published, Pay It Forward captured hearts all over the world, became a wildly popular film, and spawned a generation of increased altruism. This anniversary edition...
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  • An immediate bestseller when first published, Pay It Forward captured hearts all over the world, became a wildly popular film, and spawned a generation of increased altruism. This anniversary edition includes a new introduction by the author. It takes an inspiring and moving tale of a young boy who believed in the power of kindness and brings it to a new generation of readers.
    Twelve-year-old Trevor McKinney accepts his social studies teacher's challenge: come up with a plan to change the world. His idea is simple: Do a good deed for three people and ask them to "pay it forward" to three others in need. He envisions a vast movement of kindness and goodwill spreading beyond his small California town and across the world. The project, however, appears to falter. Jerry, a bum who receives some allowance money from Trevor, returns to a life of dissolution. Trevor wants his pretty, hardworking mother—a woman who raised him lovingly despite struggles with alcoholism—to marry his teacher, Reuben St. Clair. Reuben is a scarred, bitter, untrusting man with a disfiguring injury from Vietnam. He seems to come alive only when in front of his class. For a time that matchmaking brings nothing but problems. Ultimately, though, unusual things start to happen. Crime rates dip across the nation, and nobody seems to know why. Then a journalist tracks down the source: an epidemic of random acts of kindness.

    Anyone who has ever despaired of one person's ability to effect change will rejoice in Trevor's courage and determination to see the good in everyone.
 

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Excerpts-

  • From the book

    Chapter One: Reuben January 1992

    The woman smiled so politely that he felt offended.

    "Let me tell Principal Morgan that you're here, Mr. St. Clair. She'll want to talk with you." She walked two steps, turned back. "She likes to talk to everyone, I mean. Any new teacher."

    "Of course."

    He should have been used to this by now.

    More than three minutes later she emerged from the principal's office, smiling too widely. Too openly. People always display far too much acceptance, he'd noticed, when they are having trouble mustering any for real.

    "Go right on in, Mr. St. Clair. She'll see you."

    "Thank you."

    The principal appeared to be about ten years older than he, with a great deal of dark hair, worn up, a Caucasian and attractive. And attractive women always made him hurt, literally, a long pain that started high up in his solar plexus and radiated downward through his gut. As if he had just asked this attractive woman to the theater, only to be told, You must be joking.

    "We are so pleased to meet you face-to-face, Mr. St. Clair." Then she flushed, as if the mention of the word "face" had been an unforgivable faux pas.

    "Please call me Reuben."

    "Reuben, yes. And I'm Anne."

    She met him with a steady, head-on gaze, and at no time appeared startled. So she had been verbally prepared by her assistant. And somehow the only thing worse than an unprepared reaction was the obviously rehearsed absence of one.

    He hated these moments so.

    He was, by his own admission, a man who should stay in one place. But the same factors that made it hard to start over made it hard to stay.

    She motioned toward a chair and he sat. Crossed his legs. The crease of his slacks was neatly, carefully pressed. He'd chosen his tie the previous night, to go well with the suit. He was a demon about grooming, although he knew no one would ever really see. He appreciated these habits in himself, even if, or because, no one else did.

    "I'm not quite what you were expecting, am I, Anne?"

    The use of her first name brought it back, but more acutely. It was very hard to talk to an attractive woman.

    "In what respect?"

    "Please don't do this. You must appreciate how many times I've replayed this same scene. I can't bear to talk around an obvious issue."

    She tried to establish eye contact, as one normally would when addressing a coworker in conversation, but she could not make it stick. "I understand," she...

About the Author-

  • Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of twenty-five books, which include Where We Belong, When You Were Older, Walk Me Home, When I Found You, Don't Let Me Go, The Language of Hoofbeats, and Take Me With You, among others. More than fifty of her short stories have been published in various literary magazines. Following the success of Pay It Forward, Catherine founded the Pay It Forward Foundation and served as president until 2009. She lives in California with her dog, Ella, and their cat, Jordan. To learn more about the foundation and other forthcoming books, visit CatherineRyanHyde.com.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from January 31, 2000
    An ordinary boy engineers a secular miracle in Hyde's (Funerals for Horses) winning second novel, set in small-town 1990s California. Twelve-year-old Trevor McKinney, the son of Arlene, a single mom working two jobs, and Ricky, a deadbeat absentee dad, does not seem well-positioned to revolutionize the world. But when Trevor's social studies teacher, Reuben St. Clair, gives the class an extra-credit assignment, challenging his students to design a plan to change society, Trevor decides to start a goodwill chain. To begin, he helps out three people, telling each of them that instead of paying him back, they must "pay it forward" by helping three others. At first, nothing seems to work out as planned, not even Trevor's attempt to bring Arlene and Reuben together. Granted, Trevor's mother and his teacher are an unlikely couple: she is a small, white, attractive, determined but insecure recovering alcoholic; he is an educated black man who lost half his face in Vietnam. But eventually romance does blossom, and unbeknownst to Trevor, his other attempts to help do "pay forward," yielding a chain reaction of newsworthy proportions. Reporter Chris Chandler is the first to chase down the story, and Hyde's narrative is punctuated with excerpts from histories Chandler publishes in later years (Those Who Knew Trevor Speak and The Other Faces Behind the Movement), as well as entries from Trevor's journal. Trevor's ultimate martyrdom, and the extraordinary worldwide success of his project, catapult the drama into the realm of myth, but Hyde's simple prose rarely turns preachy. Her Capraesque theme--that one person can make a difference--may be sentimental, but for once, that's a virtue. $250,000 ad/promo; BOMC and QPB alternates; 7-city author tour; film rights optioned by Warner Bros.

  • AudioFile Magazine William Dufris's voice is warm, clear, and easy to listen to. He characterizes each person in this story, succeeding best with Reuben, the social studies teacher who gives an extra-credit assignment, and Trevor, the 12-year-old boy who takes it to heart: What can you do that will change the world? The story is sentimental at times, and Dufris sometimes overplays the women's voices, but we care very much what happens to Reuben and Trevor and his mother, Arlene, and we also catch a glimpse of a world in which even the most unlikely people do extraordinarily good things for others. P.G. (c) AudioFile 2001, Portland, Maine

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