What to say about this modern reality-show style book that hasn’t been said before. The bookshelves are filled with this type of thing: the guy who lives and dresses like Jesus for a year, the couple who give up the phone, television, and computer, and of course, Julie writing about her adventures with a year full of Julia Child recipes. This is the year (or years?) of the concept book, and we’re all curious to imagine what insights can be pulled from a year of slavish devotion to a book gimmick.
The Power of Half is different, of course, because it appeals to our better natures and takes on a cause. It is not a marketing exercise, nor I think, did it start as a self-help ritual to bring order to this family’s life. Instead, The Power of Half grew out of a realization any of us above the average income in the United States (notice, I did not say median) at least sometimes feel: that with the vast majority of world citizens consuming far less than we do, living on far smaller parcels of land, and driving tinier cars, we might be able to cut back quite a bit and not feel any real psychic pain.
From what I’ve read, the Salwen’s have struggled to communicate their experience without sounding sanctimonious. “Half” sounds so big, but they say that it was a benchmark, rather than just saying “some” and never managing to give very much. They don’t seem to want everyone to be wowed by what they did, but want to inspire others to take on big challenges both to help others and to improve life as a family unit. From the very first pages, written by the dad, Kevin Salwen, you can feel the pride he has that his daughter Hannah wanted to take on this project, and how the family learned to communicate better as they took on something together.
Be aware that if you buy this book and leave it lying around, your fifteen year old might just call a realtor and put your house up for sale. I doubt it, but, from what Kevin Salwen says, he wasn’t expecting that to happen to him.
$1 of each copy sold will be donated to Rebuilding Together, a charity serving America’s low-income home-owners at no charge to those with greatest need.