The Promise of a Pencil: How an Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change

Adam Braun, Author
Adam Braun. Scribner, $25 (288p) ISBN 978-1-4767-3062-2
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-1-4767-3063-9
Open Ebook - 240 pages - 978-1-4767-3064-6
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-986-272-639-6
Book - 978-1-4423-7366-2
Prebound-Glued - 288 pages - 978-0-606-36285-6
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Despite the subtitle, just a few pages into this exuberant testimony to the power of idealism, readers will realize that Braun is not an ordinary person. Raised in affluent Greenwich, Conn., by parents who embraced noncomformity and charity as sidelines to a good job and six-figure income, Braun struggled to reconcile the materialistic and spiritual. After graduating from Brown University, he worked at a prestigious consulting firm in New York City and at age 25, in the fall of 2008, started Pencils of Promise (PoP), a nonprofit organization that partners with local communities in Asia, Latin America, and Africa to build schools, train teachers, offer scholarships, and supply educational materials. The memoir consists of 30 chapters titled for lessons he learned while developing PoP. Braun has directed the building of more than 150 schools by raising funds and motivating volunteers, as well as drawing attention from national media, wealthy benefactors, humanitarians, and celebrities. In this introspective story, Braun reflects on dangers like a near-shipwreck that brought mortality close, a period of staying out late and drinking too much to mask dissatisfaction with the corporate world, lucrative job offers that threatened his resolve, and overcoming fear of public speaking and soliciting donations. While few wrestle so strongly with the profit-or-purpose dilemma, Braun’s story forcefully presents the advantages of silencing the head and listening to the heart. (Mar.)
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