Book Review of The Power of Half by Kevin Halwen and Hannah Salwen


Summary from Amazon:

It all started when 14-year old Hannah Salwen, idealistic but troubled by a growing sense of injustice in the world, had a eureka moment when a homeless man in her neighborhood was juxtaposed against a glistening Mercedes coupe. "You know, Dad," she said, pointing, "If that man had a less nice car, that man there could have a meal."

This glaring disparity led the Salwen family of four, caught up like so many other Americans in this age of consumption and waste, to follow Hannah's urge to do something, to finally just do something. And so they embarked on an incredible journey together from which there would be no turning back. They decided to sell their Atlanta mansion, downsize to a house half its size, and give half of their profits to a worthy charity. At first it was an outlandish scheme. "What, are you crazy? No way!" Then it was a challenge. "We are TOTALLY doing this." Each week they met over dinner to discuss their plan. It would transport them across the globe and well out of their comfort zone. Along the way they would inspire so many others wrestling with the same questions: Do I give enough? How much is enough? How can I make an impact in the world? In the end the Salwens' journey would bring them closer as a family, as they discovered, together, that half could be so much more.

Author Bios
Kevin Salwen, coauthor of The Power of Half: One Family's Decision to Stop Taking and Start Giving Back, was reporter and editor at The Wall Street Journalfor over 18 years. After his tenure at The Wall Street Journal, he started a magazine, Motto. He serves on the board for Habitat for Humanity in Atlanta, and works with the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Hannah Salwen, coauthor of The Power of Half: One Family's Decision to Stop Taking and Start Giving Back, will be a junior at the Atlanta Girls' School, where she plays for the varsity volleyball team, and is her grade's representative to the student council. She has been volunteering consistently since the 5th grade at the Atlanta Community Food Bank and Cafe 458, among others.

Review/My Thoughts:

I was really intrigued by this story of a family choosing to give up their comfortable lifestyle in support of helping others. I was also surprised to find out that this was inspired by a teenage girl. I imagined most teens were more wrapped up in their clothes, school work, relationships and status than they would be in community service.

This story is an inspiring one. It got me really thinking about what my priorities are. While I couldn't relate to the amount of money that this family had, I could relate to the desire to help out others no matter what our circumstances might be. Although the writing in this book took me a while to get into, I would recommend reading this with your family or book group. It will bring a lot of good discussion and hopefully inspire you to get involved in helping others who are less fortunate.

You can find a reader's guide, the family blog, and a news clip on their web site:

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from FSB Associates for the purpose of review.

1 comment on "Book Review of The Power of Half by Kevin Halwen and Hannah Salwen"
  1. Shelly-I really want to read this book! i thought that we were both following each other but, I guess not!

    I am following you from MBC with FFF. I hope that you will come back and follow back. Have a great week!


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