The Power of Half

The Power of Half

One Family's Decision to Stop Taking and Start Giving Back

Book - 2010
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It all started when fourteen-year-old Hannah Salwen had a eureka moment. Seeing a homeless man in her neighborhood at the same instant she spotted a man driving a glistening Mercedes, she said, "Dad, if that man had a less nice car, that man there could have a meal."

Until that day, the Salwens had been caught up like so many of us in the classic American dream--providing a good life for their children, accumulating more and more stuff, doing their part to help others but not really feeling it. So when Hannah was stopped in her tracks by this glaring disparity, her parents knew they had to act on her urge to do something. As a family, they made the extraordinary decision to sell their Atlanta mansion, buy a house half its size, and give half of the sale price to a worthy charity. At first it seemed outlandish: What, are we crazy? Then it became a challenge: We are totally doing this . Their plan eventually took them across the globe and well out of their comfort zone. In the end they learned that they had the power to change a little corner of the world. And they found themselves changing too.

As Kevin Salwen says, "No one else is nuts enough to sell their house," but what his family discovered along the way will inspire countless others, no matter what their means or resources are. Warm, funny, and deeply moving, The Power of Half is the story of how one family grew closer as they discovered that half could be so much more.

Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, c2010
ISBN: 9780547248066
Branch Call Number: 178 SAL 2009
Characteristics: 242 p.
Additional Contributors: Salwen, Hannah

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From Library Staff

I am starting to give more money to charity. Sometimes it’s hard to know where to begin. Help locally? Help in developing countries? Help animals, people, or the environment? And how should I involve my kids so they know how fortunate they are?

Well, this book definitely got me thinking.... Read More »


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MadReads Jul 03, 2012

Yes, the Salwens could have given more and it doesn't seem like the made a terrible sacrifice (basically moving from a 2 million dollar home to a 1 million dollar home) but still it's an inspiring story and they did something that few others would even think of. What I took away was that anyone can give half of something and make a difference. It doesn't have to be half of your house. The Salwens don't expect that. It could be half of the money you spend on eating out each month or half of the time you spend watching TV a week, spent in volunteer service instead. It's a cool idea. They also address the problems in charitable giving. For example, donations can make people dependent instead of self-reliant or some service projects can be a waste, such as a church in Mexico that was repainted 5 times in one year on mission trips. Another distinction that they make, that I think is important, is the difference between relief and long-term projects that aim to make a lasting difference. I had never thought of the distinction before. If nothing else, The Power of Half will make you think differently about charitable giving and hopefully help you invest your time and money more wisely.

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