The Power of Half

The Power of Half

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

eBook - 2010
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It all started when 14-year old Hannah Salwen, idealistic but troubled by a growing sense of injustice, had a eureka moment when she saw a homeless man juxtaposed against a glistening Mercedes coupe. "You know, Dad," she said, "If that man had a less nice car, that man there could have a meal." This glaring 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--so they embarked on an incredible journey together. They decided to sell their Atlanta mansion, buy a house half its size, and give half their profits to charity. At first it was an outlandish scheme, then it became a challenge: "We are TOTALLY doing this." Each week they met over dinner to discuss their plan--which would transport them across the globe and well out of their comfort zone, and bring them closer as a family.--From publisher description.
Publisher: Boston [Mass.] : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010
ISBN: 9780547486215
Characteristics: 1 online resource (xii, 242 p.)
Additional Contributors: Salwen, Hannah
Alternative Title: Power of one half
Power of 1/2


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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. It’s about a family whose 14-year-old daughter wants to do more for others. Her parents are motivated by her good intentions and decide to sell their 6,500 square foot house and downsize to something half as big and half the price. They plan to give the other half of the proceeds to charity. This is the true story of this process. It’s interesting to hear how they chose who to give the money to, and how this act changes their family dynamics for the better. A short and uplifting book. (submitted by KA)

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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