The Summer I Saved the World in 65 Days by Michelle Hurwitz
I found this book because it was on my son’s middle school summer reading list. He had to read two off of the list. He didn’t know what this book was about, but picked it from the title. The librarian reserved it for him, but when he realized it was a “girl book,” he wouldn’t read it. But I did. (He read Guitar Notes and something with Mars in the title).
This feel-good book begins with thirteen-year-old Nina at loose ends during the summer. Her attorney parents are too busy to notice her, her older brother is acting weird and her best friend is obsessing over boys and the far off school dance.
When Nina impulsively plants flowers for her neighbor who has a broken leg and hasn’t been able to plant them, it’s just the start of Nina’s good deeds. Inspired by memories of her grandmother, she decides to do 65 small but remarkable good deeds during the summer. Some are planned, but some are spontaneous.
While the acts of kindness improve life for a young super hero, a very pregnant mom with three young sons, a high strung dog walker and her quiet husband, the girl from her summer class and more, one neighbor is sure the deeds are being performed by a criminal--or a ghost-- and begins an investigation into it involving the police.
The only one who finds out Nina’s identity is her long time friend, Eli, who is literally the boy next door. He applauds her efforts while dealing with issues he doesn’t share and that are only revealed after a show down. He’s not the only one with a secret. Nina’s own brother has his own. In the end, everything is sorted out, and Nina manages to remain anonymous because of her desire to help others, not receive recognition for it. And for the most part, she succeeds in making someone’s life brighter, and finds out that good deeds can be contagious.
Good deeds aren’t the only thing going on during the summer though, and Nina has to cope with an old friendship that is changing and a new friendship that she isn’t sure of. She struggles with how her friendship with Eli is turning into something more and what her older brother is up to.
This is an easy middle school read that will hopefully inspire others to make their own list of anonymous good deed to perform.