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The Summer I Saved the World ... in 65 Days

Review

The Summer I Saved the World ... in 65 Days

Michele Weber Hurwitz's THE SUMMER I SAVED THE WORLD IN 65 DAYS chronicles protagonist Nina Ross's efforts to "save the world"--- aka unite the disparate lives of her family and neighbors---  in the titular 65 days. After Nina plants her injured neighbor's marigolds, she's inspired to perform one small, anonymous act of kindness each day of summer vacation in hopes of making a difference.

In crafting Nina's narrative voice, Hurwitz brilliantly merges childhood innocence and adolescent disillusionment. Beneath its sillier sub-plots (ghost-busting senior citizens, anyone?) and breezy prose, THE SUMMER I SAVED THE WORLD IN 65 DAYS tackles some of growing-up's darker consequences, handling with finesse the sorts of heavier themes that most beach-reads gladly sidestep. Although Hurwitz's novel sports a rather weighty central conflict--- the emotional isolation plaguing each member of the Ross family--- Nina and frenemy Jorie's more whimsical concerns over homecoming and first kisses beautifully temper the book's potentially bleak premise.

In crafting Nina's narrative voice, Hurwitz brilliantly merges childhood innocence and adolescent disillusionment.

THE SUMMER I SAVED THE WORLD IN 65 DAYS relies solely on Nina's altruism for its key plot points, yet Hurwitz's protagonist somehow avoids coming off as a Mary Sue. In fact, Nina can, at times, feel a tad too imperfect. Yes, I find it easier to engage with characters who possess some measure of human failings, and without flaws, it's impossible to endow your characters with any sort of complexity. But kissing her best friend's crush and calling it a good deed? Nice try, Nina, but no cigar.

THE SUMMER I SAVED THE WORLD IN 65 DAYS defies classification; although narrated in the pleasant, somewhat airy tone of a beach-read, somber subject matter allows the book to transcend mere fluff. And even though Hurwitz aims her novel at young adults, readers of all ages could benefit from its inspirational message about the quietly transformative power of kindness.

Reviewed by Alison S., Teen Board Member on May 9, 2014

The Summer I Saved the World ... in 65 Days
by Michele Weber Hurwitz

  • Publication Date: April 8, 2014
  • Genres: Young Adult 10+
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
  • ISBN-10: 0385371063
  • ISBN-13: 9780385371063