In 50 Acts of Kindness by Ellyn Oaksmith, Kylie Harrow is a high-paid, high-powered marketer on a direct path to the top. So when she gets called into the boss’s office, she expects to get a promotion. What she doesn’t expect is to be shown a YouTube video titled “World’s Worst Boss” and featuring her yelling at a pregnant woman for all the inconveniences for her that the woman’s pregnancy causes, such as having to leave to use the restroom too often. As the video has gone viral, that seals the end of her job. With no company willing to hire Kylie, she has no choice but to go home to North Carolina. But life is not the same at her childhood home. Coming downstairs after her first night, she finds the dining room full of naked people. Her mother has turned Kylie’s childhood home into a bed and breakfast as a nudist colony! But the only way her mother will allow Kylie to stay is for her to commit 50 acts of kindness in 50 days.
Being social media savvy, Kylie decides to turn those 50 acts into a vlog to prove to the world that she has redeemed herself. Things don’t start out well, with Kylie’s being befriended by the ugliest dog she has ever seen after she falls and gets stuck in a fallen fence. The hot local sheriff, who was the star quarterback in high school with Kylie, is right there to witness as Kylie falls. It now seems that Kylie has a dog, whom she names Bat. With other acts of kindness going less successfully, Chet, the sheriff, discovers the owner of Bat, an 80-year-old misogynist named Margaret, who has been in the hospital for a while. Being talked by Chet into visiting Margaret, Kylie discovers an angry, bitter woman whom eventually Chet helps Kylie to see is really scared deep down. Kylie’s 50 acts of kindness turn into one act, trying to help Margaret.
This book really gripped me from the start. The YouTube episode was dramatic, drawing me into the book from the start. It kept me listening eagerly and drew me into it. The characters were very realistic, and I appreciated seeing Margaret as a senior version of what Kylie has become. Kylie’s journey towards finding her true self parallels Margaret’s. I also enjoyed the contrast that Chet provides for Kylie in showing a good guy as well as the way the romance between them develops slowly and that they don’t just jump into bed together when they first meet. Further, Kylie has a gay best friend, Marcus, who helps her out in her activities, and Marcus adds to the fun elements of the book.
Wendy Rich Stetson voices the first person narration from Kylie’s perspective. She serves as a very believable Kylie, with good accents and a solid performance of this book. Her voicing of Kylie does a lot to make her personal journey from a real bitch to someone coming to find herself.
50 Acts of Kindness is a terrific personal journey, primarily in Kylie but also as a secondary plot in the lite of Margaret. I listened to this 10 hour book in two stretches because I didn’t want to put it down. I will point out that while the love scenes take place behind closed doors, there are periodic disapproving references to the genitals of the guests at the nudist B&B. But other than just complaining about having to look at old breasts or penises, the book doesn’t get any more graphic than that. I highly recommend this romantic comedy and give it five stars!
Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the author, but it in no way affected my review.
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