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The Summer I Saved the World...in 65 Days

The Summer I Saved the World...in 65 Days

Can ordinary people be heroes? Pay it forward. Practice random acts of kindness. Does doing good really do any good? One summer. One girl. One plan. 65 ways to make a difference.

It's the summer before freshman year in high school and 13-year old Nina Ross is feeling kind of lost. Her beloved Grandma died last year; her super-lawyer parents work all the time; her brother's busy with his friends and his job at the pool; and her best friend Jorie is into clothes, makeup, and boys. While Nina doesn't know what her "thing" is yet, it's definitely not shopping and makeup. And it's not boys either. Though, has Eli, the boy next door, always been so cute?

This summer, Nina decides to change things. She hatches a plan. There are 65 days of summer. Every day, she'll anonymously do one small but remarkable good thing for someone in her family or neighborhood, and find out: does doing good actually make a difference? Along the way, she discovers that people are full of surprises and secrets. In this bighearted, sweetly romantic novel, things might not turn out exactly as Nina expects. They might be better.

Read an interview with Michele on Bookish
Check out the discussion questions

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  • Selected for the 2018 Books-A-Million (BAM) nationwide summer book club
  • Nominated for the 2017 Sunshine State Youth Reading Award in Florida
  • Nominated for the 2017 Nebraska Young Adult Golden Sower Award
  • Nominated for the 2015-2016 Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Award in the grades 6-8 division
  • Young Critics' Favorite Books 2014-2015, Perrot Memorial Library, Old Greenwich, CT
  • On Kiss the Book's list of Top 50 books for secondary, 2015


"Touching on universal feelings of loss, jealousy, love, and the gratification that comes from doing the right thing, the story should give hope to those who think one person can't possibly make a difference."
   —Publishers Weekly

"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."
   —Kirkus Reviews

"Hurwitz has given readers a sensitive narrator struggling with real issues. Insightful writing, realistic dialogue infused with humor, and a sweet romantic element add depth to the story. Tween readers will identify with Nina and may be inspired to emulate her list of good things with their own."

"The transition of adolescence is a common theme in realistic fiction, but Hurwitz is an author who can explore a familiar experience in ways that give it fresh energy and unusual nuance; her writing is impressively perceptive even as it's engaging and accessible. Readers, themselves often noticers, will appreciate the celebration of a girl whose skill lies in seeing what others don't."
Starred Review
   —The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Foreign Covers

Summer I Saved the World Summer I Saved the World Summer I Saved the World Summer I Saved the World
Brazilian French German Italian

Discussion Questions

  1. Does doing good really do any good? We hear so much about paying it forward and doing random acts of kindness, yet there seem to be many problems and much strife in our world. Do small acts of kindness make a difference? Are they helping make our world a better place?
  2. Do other people always perceive a kind effort as someone intends? Could people take something the wrong way, like Mrs. Millman?
  3. Are random acts of kindness more for ourselves or others? Does it make a difference if others recognize the efforts we do, and how does that impact our behavior? Are we more motivated when we can tell other people what we've done, like with the ice bucket challenge?
  4. Nina feels strongly about doing her good deeds anonymously. Why was that important to her? How would the story have been different if Nina wasn't anonymous about the good deeds?
  5. What was the significance of the neighborhood setting being a cul-de-sac?
  6. Do you have any Simple Truths you'd like to share?
  7. What (or who) did the fox represent?
  8. Why does Nina bond so strongly with Thomas? What is the "evil" both of them see in the cul-de-sac?
  9. What is your impression of Jorie? Do you think Jorie's and Nina's friendship will continue in high school?
  10. Was there really a ghost in the Dixon house?

Wendy Lamb Books/Random House, hardcover, April 2014
Ember, paperback, April 2015

Nina's Grandma's Carrot Ring Recipe:

2/3 cup shortening
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/4 cups flour, sifted
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
1/4 cup cold water
1 1/2 cups grated carrots, firmly packed

Cream shortening and sugar, add egg and dry ingredients, then water and carrots. Bake 45 minutes in a 350 degree oven in a greased mold pan.

Library display of Summer I Saved the World
Library display at Union Academy Middle Magnet School, Bartow, Florida

Girl Scouts and Summer I Saved the World
Display at Girl Scout regional stores in Michigan

Girl Scouts and Summer I Saved the World
The book has been incorporated into a kindness kit, developed by the Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan

Girl Scouts and Summer I Saved the World
Girl Scout patch that is earned after reading the book and completing the kindness activities

Girl Scouts and Summer I Saved the World
Kindness Wall created by Michigan Girl Scouts