What happens when a teenage girl tries to change the world in 65 tiny ways?
It is the beginning of summer, and 13-year-old Nina is lonely and rudderless; she is still mourning the loss of her beloved grandmother, her type-A lawyer parents are AWOL, and her older brother is occupied by his job. To make matters worse, she is growing apart from her best friend, Jorie, who is increasingly interested in nail polish and skimpy clothes—and in Eli, the neighbor boy they’ve grown up with and whom Nina herself is falling for. But it is the parting words of her eighth-grade history teacher that give purpose to her summer: “It is very often the ordinary things that go unnoticed that end up making a difference.” Inspired, Nina plans to perform 65 small, anonymous acts of kindness for her family and neighbors—one for each day of her summer. She leaves brownies on a doorstep, plants a garden in the dead of night and secretly cleans up a neighbor’s yard. Through her friendship with Thomas, Eli’s irresistible toy-sword–wielding little brother, she discovers Eli has family troubles of his own. Teens will easily ally with the kindhearted, insecure Nina and be charmed by the humor and beautifully defined characters. The unpredictable domino effect of Nina’s good deeds is a joy to behold.
Joyful dividends are reaped from a teenager’s secret acts of kindness in this appealingly, unabashedly feel-good story. (Fiction. 10-14)