Monday, March 8, 2010

Book Review: The Power of Half

The Power of Half is a book about a family who decided that they were living more extravagantly than they needed to and decided to sell their house and donate half of the profit to charity. They decided to work with The Hunger Project. Here is more about the book:

"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."

The Salwen's are also donating $1 of each book sold to Rebuilding Together

I highly commend the Salwen's for what they have done. It is not often that someone will decided to donate a large amount to charity, particularly half the value of their house. With that being said, I had a hard time reading this book. Kevin Salwen's tone came off as condescending and it seemed as though he wanted people to feel sorry for his "sacrifices". The Salwen's went from a 2 million dollar house to a 1 million dollar house. It is hard to relate a 1 million dollar house (something most of us could only dream of) as a sacrifice. Kevin also throws around a lot of brand names in the book and seems materialistic. 

I also did not like that the book's sole theme seemed to be the "process" the Salwen's used and little about what they actually did. I was almost 100 pages in to the book before they even decided to do the project. Then, they talked little about Africa and what they actually were doing. I think the Salwen's should have waited until after their work with The Hunger Project was done to write this book.

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 Journal for 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.

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Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review. I did not receive any other compensation. The thoughts here are my own honest opinion.  

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1 comment:

Kay | UPrinting said...

This is a nice book because it brings awareness to people that there are some people that needs their help. And personally, helping others is really a nice feeling.