Pay It Forward by Catherine Ryan Hyde

I was listening to the military radio station, we get here in the Tokyo area, and they told a story of a military man in Kansas who saw a car accident and pulled a man from a burning car.  The message he left with the rescued man was, “Just pay it forward.”

This sent me right back to my bookshelf where I have had this book saved for a few years.  I bought and read the book before I knew it was a popular movie.

When I did see the movie, flying over the Pacific Ocean, to or from Japan, I was a bit disappointed.  The book is THAT much better.

A few things that touched me I didn’t really notice in the movie.  First, in the book, the teacher is a black man whose face was severely injured during the Vietnam war.  This injury is a big deal in the book, as it is the root of many of his feelings of insecurity.  The mother in the story is a recovering alcoholic (in the movie she is always stashing booze in the kitchen lights and under the wet clothes in the washer) who stays dry for the duration of the book.  Her insecurities about her status in the world mesh and clash with the teacher’s as they build a romantic relationship.

So, I really liked the book without even the part about paying it forward!  But, Paying it Forward is a great concept.  While living in Japan I will have to practice paying back as it is SO important culturally here.  But, I can encourage others to NOT pay me back, but Pay it Forward to someone else.

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