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Trevor, meanwhile, could use a little help himself. His father walked out on the family, and his mother, Arlene, is fighting an uphill battle with alcoholism, poor judgment in men, and despair. When the boy's new Social Studies teacher, Reuben St. Clair, arrives on the scene, Trevor sees in him not only a source of inspiration for how to change the world, but also the means of altering his mother's life. Yet Reuben has his own set of problems. Horribly scarred in Vietnam, he is reluctant to open himself up to the possibility of rejection--or love. Indeed, the relationship between Arlene and Reuben is central to the novel as these two damaged people learn to "pay forward" the trust and affection Trevor has given them.
Hyde tells her tale from many different perspectives, using letters, diary entries, and first- and third-person narratives from the various people whose lives Trevor's project touches. Jerry Busconi, for example, the addict Trevor tried to help, one night finds himself talking a young woman out of jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge:
I'm a junkie, Charlotte. I'm always gonna be a junkie. I ain't never gonna be no fine, upstanding citizen. But then I thought, hell. Just pay it forward anyway. Kid tried to help me. Okay, it didn't work. Still, I'm trying to help you. Maybe you'll jump. I don't know. But I tried, right? But let me tell you one thing. I woke up one morning and somebody gave me a chance. Just outta nowhere. It was like a miracle. Now, how do you know that won't happen to you tomorrow?Pay It Forward is reminiscent of Frank Capra's classic It's a Wonderful Life. Like the film, this novel has a steely core of gritty reality beneath its optimism: yes, one person can make a difference, can help to make the world a better place, but sickness, pain, heartache, and tragedy will still always be a part of the human condition. If at times Hyde stumbles a bit while negotiating the razor-thin line between honest feeling and sentimentality, it's generally not for long. And the occasional lapse into artificially colored emotion can be forgiven when weighed against the courage it takes to write so unabashedly hopeful a story in such cynical times. --Sheila Bright --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Great story by a great author. Should be a MUST read for jr. high or high school kids because the message is so great.Published 18 hours ago by joyce ferrarelli
Wish the world would read this book. We would all be better off!Published 7 days ago by Mary L. Kirby
Loved it! Makes you want to go out there and change the world:). Enjoyed it so much just ordered the DVD!Published 10 days ago by Wendy Chambers
Enjoyed this book. I am going to read another of her books I enjoyed it so much.Published 13 days ago by Amazon Customer
After reading When I Found You and all the hype surrounding this book I expected more. The story it's self was well written. Read morePublished 23 days ago by Sharlane Jarvis
I love the idea of people coming together in a real community of caring, the theme of this novel and most of the other novels by Catherine Ryan Hyde. Read morePublished 23 days ago by Amazon Customer
Good read. Somewhat different from the movie but glad to have read it.Published 25 days ago by Kevin Jones