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73 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Internalize this book, please
Over the years, as I read more and more, my expectations get lower. I often just hope a book will keep me entertained on the train ride home, or distract me before bed. Catherine Ryan Hyde's books continually spoil me, though, and make me miserable with everything else I read for weeks afterward.
Pay It Forward is one of those stories that, like my grandmother...
Published on January 26, 2000 by Debi Lewis

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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting premise
Reuben St.Clair is a horribly disfigured Vietnam vet. He's also a teacher beginning at a new school in Atascadero, Ca. In his class he has Trevor McKinney, a somewhat intense loner of a a fourteen-year old. The last major character is Trevor's mother, Arlene. She also has her flaws being a recovering alcoholic. Into this mix Reuben throws a simple yet difficult class...
Published on May 10, 2001 by Old Fisherman


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73 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Internalize this book, please, January 26, 2000
Over the years, as I read more and more, my expectations get lower. I often just hope a book will keep me entertained on the train ride home, or distract me before bed. Catherine Ryan Hyde's books continually spoil me, though, and make me miserable with everything else I read for weeks afterward.
Pay It Forward is one of those stories that, like my grandmother says about her favorite books, "Just talks to you, like you're sitting right there in the room!" It's a story about normal people and their normal dreams, which, like most normal dreams, are really extraordinary when they come true.
It's so wonderful to step back from a book with a lovable character and realize that the character doesn't end with the book. It's never over, because the writer -- the character's creator -- is still alive and full of ideas. The idea of paying it forward really does come from a living, thinking person, and what's better, a person with a beautiful voice that just might reach out further than she can imagine.
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49 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a story to help bring us FORWARD, June 19, 2000
When I read this book I was in the midst of an experimental project geared toward preventing child abuse via changing the energy in our community - something of a "Pay It Forward" in action -- reading Hyde's book offered me an affirmative boost that was magical. As soon as I finished reading it, I emailed more than a hundred people about the book - and the local libraries have not been able to keep it on the shelves since. It is an easy premise to put aside with cynicism - if one's choice in life is to hold on to the negative (this can't work, people aren't that way, etc.) and keep out the positive (each of us has the potential to change the world in powerful ways . . . every day). What I'm finding, is that more and more people are opening to joy and love and giving and letting go of control of outcomes (i.e. trusting in doing something wonderful just for the sake of doing it) - and if you're one of those folks, you'll find this book an energy booster, an affirmation, a gift for heart and soul.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring, August 10, 2000
By 
HH (Wellington, New Zealand) - See all my reviews
This story begins by introducing us to the main characters: Trevor, a 12-year old boy; Arlene, his recovering alcoholic mother; and Reuben, who is a wounded Vietnam vet and Trevor's social studies teacher. As an extra-credit project, Reuben challenges his class to do something that matters to the world and report on it. While his classmates do predictable projects like recycling, Trevor comes up with "Pay It Forward", a movement where he does momentous good deeds for three other people and in return asks each of them to do something for three people, thus paying it forward. Trevor's classmates laugh at him, believing that it's in people's nature to fail to follow through on the promise to pay it forward. But the movement begins to have terrific results on the world.
I liked the way the book was written. The author spoke from the point of view of all the main characters and told the story through all of them. The style had its drawbacks: it was easy to get confused about which character was speaking. But it worked for this book.
This isn't your ordinary feel-good Random Acts of Kindness type of book. This is a book about real people feeling real pain who had their pain eased in very strange ways. And it's about people who wouldn't normally reach out to others, but they take the challenge seriously. In short, it's about you and me, and our neighbors, friends, and coworkers, the people who aren't usually anxious to be generous to strangers. And it's about people like us doing better.
I would recommend this book to people who need to read something inspirational but find the Chicken Soup for the Soul stories cheesy. I would also recommend it to people who are looking for something larger than themselves to devote their lives to.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A STORY THAT SHORES BELIEF AND NOURISHES HOPE, September 28, 2000
This review is from: Pay It Forward (Mass Market Paperback)
Following on the heels of her critically acclaimed debut novel, Funerals For Horses (1997), Catherine Ryan Hyde has crafted another affecting tale. It is one sown with promise and the innate goodness of humankind.
Can our world be changed for the better? Twelve-year-old Trevor McKinney thinks that it can. Cynicism may dismiss this belief as implausible, lachrymose, but Ms. Hyde's meticulously wrought, restrained prose keeps sentimentality at bay, while at the same time imbuing Pay It Forward with a transcendent power to move.
There is aught in Trevor's small town California background to explain his response when a social studies teacher challenges students to ""Think of an idea for world change, and put it into action." The boy devises an ingenious but simple scheme - pay it forward.
In Trevor's words: "You see, I do something real good for three people. And then when they ask how they can pay it back, I say they have to pay it forward. To three more people. Each. So nine people get helped. Then those people have to do twenty-seven....Then it sort of spreads out, see. To eighty-one. Then two hundred forty-three. Then seven hundred twenty-nine. Then two thousand, one hundred eighty-seven. See how big it gets?"
Trevor initiates his plan with Jerry, a homeless man, to whom the boy gives his paper route earnings so that Jerry can make himself presentable and find work. But with his first paycheck Jerry turns into a bar, squanders his hard earned cash, and winds up in jail.
The second recipient of Trevor's good will is Mrs. Greenberg, an elderly arthritic widow. She dreams of seeing her beloved garden well tended again. Trevor spends after school hours restoring the yard to its former verdancy. When she asks the boy how she can pay him back, he suggests that she pay it forward. But Mrs. Greenberg dies.
Deeming his plan a failure, Trevor is further disheartened by a relationship that he hoped would develop between his mother, Arlene, and his teacher, Reuben St. Clair. A more unlikely pair would be hard to find - Arlene is white, a pretty but tough recovering alcoholic who works two jobs to make ends meet. She feels Reuben looks down on her because she lacks education. A "little lightning bolt of indignation," Arlene is so prone to misjudgments that her AA sponsor warns, "Every time you throw a punch, girl, you break your own jaw."
On the other hand, Reuben believes Arlene is repelled by his appearance - he is a black war veteran who lost half of his face in Vietnam. Wounded both physically and emotionally, he is only comfortable in a classroom. In a moment of self-revelation, Reuben discloses, "Any moment that required him to be emotionally helpful, to offer solace or understanding, was a hard moment."
Yet, despite Trevor's misgivings his plan has taken root and is growing, spreading across state lines to Washington, D.C.. An invitation is extended to Trevor, Arlene and Reuben to come to the White House. where President Clinton will present the boy with an award.
Trevor describes that time as "the best, most incredible day," and asks Reuben, "Do you think there'll ever be a day this good again? Or do you just get one of these?"
The answer to his question is found in a sudden, heartbreaking denouement.
Related in alternating narrative voices Pay It Forward is resonate with heart wrenching struggle and hard won achievement, greed and largesse, hope and disappointment, courage and fear - all the stuff of which human life is made. It suggests a utopia impossible to bring into existence, a premise far too chimerical to succeed. Or, is it? Imaginatively conceived, meticulously rendered, Pay It Forward shores belief and nourishes hope.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting premise, May 10, 2001
By 
Old Fisherman "Jim" (Orange, California USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Pay It Forward (Mass Market Paperback)
Reuben St.Clair is a horribly disfigured Vietnam vet. He's also a teacher beginning at a new school in Atascadero, Ca. In his class he has Trevor McKinney, a somewhat intense loner of a a fourteen-year old. The last major character is Trevor's mother, Arlene. She also has her flaws being a recovering alcoholic. Into this mix Reuben throws a simple yet difficult class assignment. He asks the kids to come up with one idea that is simple enough for one person to implement but that will change the world for the better. Trevor comes up with the idea of "Pay It Forward." Do good deeds for three different people but instead of having them pay him back they must pay it forward to three more people. The book then follows various people and how they're affected by these simple deeds.
I found the book compelling. The writing was clean and the characters were well done. They drew you into the book and kept you reading. The one thing I did like was that this was not treated as some sort of magical idea that immediately transformed everyone it touched. Jerry the junkie remained Jerry the junkie, but he did try to pay it forward. It's a good book, an interesting book, and above all an uplifting book. It may not be great literature but it is certainly worth the time spent reading it.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I LOVE This Book-, May 2, 2006
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This review is from: Pay It Forward (Mass Market Paperback)
I hardly ever do book reviews- but, I loved this book so much I have re-read it a total of three times(skipping certain passages that bored me occasionally). The idea for the book itself is interesting- A kid changing the world to the point where acts of kindness are considered "everyday" rather than "newsworthy" through a method of helping others and have them pay the kindness forward rather than return it.

I orginally saw the movie and fell in love with the idealism behind it so much I knew I had to read the book- Now, I kind of wish I had just read the book- the movie leads out major details and creates HUGE gaps that the story only fills- Hyde talks in very simple terms and breaks the chapters up into first person narratives jumping from main characters to minor characters and back again- this might seem a little tedious- but, I found it extremely personal- it gave me extreme insight into what one character was feeling versus another- It also makes you feel as though everyone involved/behind the pay it forward movement is IMPORTANT.

The book focuses on some points/areas the movie just does not go particularly the relationship between Arlene and Reuben... which the movie touches only the tip of the iceberg with. Their is also a major bond between Trevor and his teacher Reuben reflected better in the book than the movie... The book also covers the "Pay It Forward" method that becomes a NATIONALLY known/ effective method- in which Trevor meets the President is the focus of many news shows and newspapers... he becomes very well known and a revolutionary hero of the hour.

The book is dated in the 90s- Clinton is president. One of the characters was affected by the Vietnam War and suffered burn scars. But I don't see the "liberal" agenda that so many other readers seem to have seen in it. The book is very idealistic in subject matter but, I couldn't help but WISH the world would really change for the better- if we ourselves would only change for the better. This is DEFINATELY one of those books that sticks with you long after you read it- a definate keeper in your book collection!

I would not let children read this unless they are maybe fourteen or above the book- seems to appeal to the older teenagers and adults and talks about some tough issues- such as homosexuality, thugs, sex, and some other inapporiate issues for younger readers. However readers will LOVE this story about human kindness, the power of love, giving to others, and imperfect people doing extra-ordinary things. The book is PERFECT and a real treat to read. Definately hit the buy it-now button and think about PAYING IT FORWARD yourself.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What's wrong with being Utopian?, December 5, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Pay It Forward (Mass Market Paperback)
I loved this book, but was not going to take the time to review it--but the last review about it being "overly utopian" ticked me off. In the movie, the teacher tells Trevor that the class thinks he's come up with an overly utopian idea. He says, "So?"
I'm on his side.
Also, I wish people wouldn't review books unless they have read them carefully. In the movie Trevor is 11. In the book, when he makes that comment about Chelsea Clinton being "a major babe" he is just a day or two shy of his 14th birthday. And it never says the world is perfect and there is no greed. Also the book starts with the gift of a 2-year-old Acura, where in the movie it's a brand-new Jaguar. In the book the boy helps an old lady with her garden. How can anyone say the favors in the book are outrageous and unbelievable compared to the movie? I don't know what book "Overly Utopian" read, but it wasn't the Pay It Forward I read.
Please, people, it's okay not to like a book but be fair and get your facts right.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars LOVELY BOOK FROM COVER TO COVER, September 19, 2001
By 
Gayla Collins (Sheridan, WYOMING USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Pay It Forward (Mass Market Paperback)
"Pay It Forward" is a wondeful feat by Ms. Hyde in displaying the worth of the everyday person. A thoughtful idea from an innocent child who has bore emotional pain all his youth comes to light, and gives hope to a nation starved for an answer. "Paying it forward" is the concept of doing a favor, a sacrifice for 3 people regardless of the personal cost. Twelve year old Trevor conceives this plot as an answer to a geography assignment. His odessy of carrying this concept through makes this book hard to put down. We meet a variety of flawed but forging characters; his mother Arlene struggling to stay afloat and sober; a geography teacher scarred by wounds inside and out from Vietnam, and a multitude of others who play into the well designed plot. This is a beautiful book that may be panned by cynics, but for those of us aching for a kinder world this read aspires hope.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LOVED IT!!! LOVED IT!!! LOVED IT!!!, October 15, 2000
By 
TheReader23 (Pennsylvania (orig. NY)) - See all my reviews
If you only read one "feel good" book a year, make it this one. Of course, if you're cynical by nature and look at the glass as half full, please pass on this one. This is a book that will satisfy the little bit of optimist that hopefully resides deep within us all. Since the movie version of this book has already been cast, it is great to be able to picture Haley Joel Osment in the title role with Helen Hunt as his mother and Kevin Spacey as his teacher.
Trevor McKinney, 12 years old and living with his single mom, is given an assignment by his teacher -- an assignment that, if done properly, would hopefully change the world in some way. While most of his classmates decide not to participate in the extra credit project, Trevor comes up with a plan that has some merit. Do "life-changing" favors for three different people and instead of accepting payment for these favors, instruct those people to instead pass on this goodwill to three people of their own choosing so ultimately another nine people will be helped and then eventually twenty-seven people until the chain will reach a point where people are receiving favors a second time around. The plan is called PAY IT FORWARD and it soon becomes a "movement."
Chris Chandler is an investigative reporter who is given the job of tracking down this movement to see if in fact there is anything to it. While Chris is trying to get to the core of this story, Trevor is getting disenchanted with his efforts. All three of his beginning favors go bust -- or so he thinks. Will people actually pay it forward or will they just take your help and forget about passing it on? While reading this story, you can't help but root for Trevor's every dream about mankind and every wish for society to come true. Is it possible to count on people to repay a favor? While Trevor is waging his battle, his mother Arlene is waging her own war against alcoholism and hopefully is winning with the help of her AA sponsor and her son. The person who has started this whole ball rolling is Trevor's teacher Reuben, a Viet Nam vet whose face has been so scarred that he finds it hard to be accepted by people for what he is. This book is so rich with characters you can relate to -- characters you want to know -- characters you want to help. I wanted to jump in and tell Trevor that I'd do three favors for people to help his cause.
Catherine Ryan Hyde does a wonderful job of telling this story through the eyes of many people. Along with Trevor's diary pages and the reporter's interviews, it makes for a wonderful reading experience. I had never heard of this author before but have since ordered her book, Funerals for Horses. Now I have two things to look forward to -- seeing the movie of Pay It Forward and reading this author's other book. Life doesn't get too much better than that unless of course people see the movie and decide to PAY IT FORWARD on their own.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pay It Forward: A Novel, August 5, 2000
By 
KAREN CERNEY HILL (SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA United States) - See all my reviews
I listened to the recently purchased audio presentation of "Pay It Forward: A Novel" as I drove through out-of-town Friday evening gridlock on June 9th to be with my aunt Addi, who was told that afternoon she would not survive the terminal ovarian cancer that was diagnosed less than nine months previously. With all that was already filling my senses, the devestating news and horrendous traffic, I never thought I would be able to concentrate on a book on tape.
But from the first words being read, I was into the story with my mind, heart and soul. I want to thank the author for being able to take me away from what I was going through and allow my heart to be healed. The pure peace I experienced listening to this audio presentation was something I can never imagine being repeated!
Sadly, my precious aunt passed away peacefully three days later with me and her two daughters by her side. I then took it as my mission to share "Pay It Forward" and bought twelve copies of the hardback, mailing them to friends and family, asking them to take some time for themselves, to get away from the daily stresses... and maybe put into action something to make "it" better for themselves by helping others. I asked them to remember Addi and all the good she had done for others in her 30 years as a nurse, and all the good she wanted to do still if she had survived cancer.
I asked when they were through, to write a little something in the cover of the book - a verse, poem or something personal that would let the next reader know they were being thought of ahead of time! - and to pass it on to a friend, coworker or stranger. My hope is that real people will continue our fictious friend Trevor's dream. And who knows? Maybe years from now, the twelve books I have passed on will all come full circle, back to me! And today, I will be passing on six more copies of this wonderful story of a childs innocent belief that people do care for and about one another - and how our world could change for the best.
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Pay It Forward
Pay It Forward by Catherine Ryan Hyde (Mass Market Paperback - October 1, 2000)
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