Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

The One Good Thing

Rate this book
For as long as Halley Steen has known her husband Nathan, he has carried a handful of stones in his pocket. Each day he uses those stones to remind him to follow the Golden Rule, moving a stone from one pocket to the other with each act of kindness. So it's not unusual that Nathan stops to help a stranger on the side of the highway while on his way to his son's football game one Friday evening. But that one act will change all of their lives forever, when a car hydroplanes off the road, killing Nathan instantly.

As Halley and her children Ty and Alice struggle with their grief, Nathan's spiritual legacy lives on. A Facebook page appears, where countless stories about Nathan's selfless acts are shared. But among them is one that stands out, from a woman who says that Nathan saved her life. Neither Halley nor her children have ever heard of Madeline Zuckerman. But soon Halley discovers years of e-mails from this woman to her husband on his computer that refer to "our little girl." How could her husband have kept the secret of this other child for their entire marriage? Why had he lied to her? Was he not the man she thought he was?

Only thirteen-year-old Alice maintains unwavering faith in her father. She knows there's an explanation. When she sets out to find Madeline and learn the truth, she will start to unravel the complex story of The One Good Thing Nathan Steen did that had the greatest impact of all.

384 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2013

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Kevin Alan Milne

16 books143 followers
Kevin Milne was born in 1973 and grew up in Sherwood, Oregon, a quiet country town south of Portland. He earned a diploma from Sherwood High school in 1991, in a graduating class of fewer than one hundred students.

In college, after studying such varied fields as film, journalism, communications, pre-dentistry, pre-law, and German, Milne eventually earned a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from Brigham Young University. One of the few things he didn’t study as an undergrad was business, which, ironically, is what he chose to pursue in graduate school, earning an MBA at Penn State University in 2000.

Today, Kevin is a business professional by day, an author by night, and a husband and father around the clock. He and his wife, Rebecca, were married in Washington DC in 1995. They have five children.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
695 (35%)
4 stars
765 (38%)
3 stars
387 (19%)
2 stars
91 (4%)
1 star
26 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 273 reviews
Profile Image for Dale Harcombe.
Author 14 books298 followers
October 15, 2015
Four and a half stars
I’m at the stage where I am sick to death of books peppered with bad language and unlikable characters. What I want to read are books with likable characters I can empathise with and a good story. One Good Thing was such a book. From the start I was hooked with the story of Nathan Steen, his six rocks he carried around in his pockets each day and learning what the secret he carried with him to death was.
The story is told from several points of view, mostly from Halley, Nathan’s wife, and that of Alice and Ty their two children and the way they try and deal with Nathan’s unexpected death while trying to help someone else. It is also the story of Madeline. How does she fit into Nathan’s life and why did Nathan keep her existence and their past secret from his wife? This is a story of love, secrets, choices, guilt, self-sacrifice and believing in someone when evidence points to the contrary.
I liked the snippets of stories that appeared throughout the book as part of a Facebook page where people shared stories of how Nathan had helped them. If at times, Nathan comes across as too good, I was happy to go along with it. Seems to me, our world could do with more people like Nathan who put others first.
This book won’t be for everyone. Some may not appreciate the home spun philosophy or the selflessness and premise of helping others but I adored this book. I got outraged at times and shed a few tears along the way. I’d recommend this book for anyone who wants an emotive story that presents life issues but at the same time leaves you feeling good at the end. With the state of our world and the dreadful news we see each day on our screens, I couldn’t help but wonder what a difference it would make if we had more people like Nathan Steen and more books that left us with a positive view. My one niggle is the bible verse at the beginning which, in my understanding, is taken out of context. That aside, there will be many who will love this novel as I did. It was a joy to read. I look forward to reading more stories from this author.
Profile Image for Christa.
292 reviews26 followers
August 15, 2013
With all the good reviews for this book, I feel a bit like a curmudgeon for breaking the streak.

I didn't really start actively disliking the book until I was just over halfway through with it. It moved quickly and held my interest, so it seemed promising.

However, once more and more of the secrets were revealed, I found out that I just did not like any of the characters. The two main ones, especially, seemed very one-dimensional, and all their good deeds--their unrealistic, overblown good deeds--just got tiresome. I found myself hoping that for once they wouldn't be completely perfect.

In particular, I found Alice and Maddy (as a child/teen) pretty unsufferable. I found myself annoyed with their whole "super-smart nerdiness," which only made them harder to relate to. They didn't seem like real people,and they didn't talk like real people. They just didn't seem...real.

I'll give the author another shot, though, because he crafted a nice pace and kept up the interest.
Profile Image for Angel.
12 reviews1 follower
November 13, 2014
Everytime I pick up this book I have a hard time putting it down because it is soooo good. I read most of it staying up all night last night.. I will finish by the end of today. I highly recommend everyone read it. Very inspiring!! Reading most reviews, everyone gets the idea of doing good things, but this book says so much more... Like about bullying; don't judge others...and about forgiveness for yourself and others..about what love can do and loss of a loved one; of how every choice we make affects everyone around us even when we cannot see the bigger picture at that moment.. Sometimes you don't know the whole story. This book is amazing and very well- written. One of my faves now. I wish I was Oprah so I could buy it for every single person along with a baggie of 7 stones.
Profile Image for Heather Deminck.
16 reviews1 follower
April 7, 2013
This book was awesome. It's about a man who leaves a legacy of doing good things. He passes suddenly (not a spoiler) and his wife discovers that he was married and had a child his senior year of his school. This is totally contradictory of his whole persona and the way he lead his life. Only his middle schooler daughter believes in him. I rarely cry while reading, and this one got me a few times. It's one of those books that stays with you, but also makes you want to be a better person. I highly recommend this to everyone.
Profile Image for Kate Sergejeva.
228 reviews18 followers
February 20, 2018
Легкая литература о дурных поступках и прекрасных людях, без которых мир был бы уродливее.
На 3,5*. Никаких открытий не будет, но теплый осадок останется. Лишний раз убеждаешься, что не стоит делать слишком поспешных выводов. Все бывает не так как кажется на первый взгляд!
Profile Image for PacaLipstick Gramma.
503 reviews29 followers
March 19, 2013
How do we treat others? Do we step out of our comfort zone to reach out? Do we actually live by the "Golden Rule" or is it just something we say to make ourselves feel better? Do we make a difference in someone's life? Have you made a difference in just one person's life today?

Doing "one good thing" for someone else usually requires us to step out of our comfort zone. After a while, stepping out of that comfort zone becomes habit, and becomes a way of life. Nathan Steen decided as a teenager that he would make sure that he always did several good deeds a day for others.

Written in a venue similar to Nicholas Sparks, this is a story, among other things, about how our actions effect others. One good thing turns into one good thing into another good thing, and so the ripple continues. Although the story was predictable, the means to get there was an interesting journey. Negative situations can be defining factors in how we live our lives. We can choose to let the negativity consume us and become bitter, or we can find the good in any situation and make our life better. "The best we can do is to do our best."

An inspirational and thought provoking book. How can one person help so many people? One person at a time.
January 7, 2017
Like the premise of the book of doing good deeds daily - even if small. very tragic events in this family however and choices extreme to resolve the issues. quick read however
Profile Image for Priscilla Perez.
41 reviews1 follower
December 24, 2019
Enjoyed the book. It has a great message about helping others. It’s told from the perspective of several characters. Love the theme of sacrifice, unselfishness , anger, and forgiveness.
Profile Image for Melanie.
430 reviews25 followers
March 11, 2013
Nathan Steen carries six small stones in his pocket, transferring them from one pocket to the other each time he does a selfless act, mirroring the Golden Rule. Each day he begins anew. His wife Halley enjoys hearing his stories each night, of the way he has helped people.

When Nathan is killed in a sudden accident, Halley and children Ty and Alice are overcome with grief. As they begin to work through their feelings, an Facebook page appears that has people sharing ways in which Nathan had helped them. Stories of the selfless acts and legacy he left behind. One story in particular catches their attention from Maddie Zuckerman. She mentions Nathan having saved her life, yet the family has never heard of her? Halley finds emails between Maddie and Nathan dating back many years, who is this mystery woman and why does she mention "our little girl' in corresponding with Nathan? Halley fears the worst, and is devastated with the thought that her husband was not who she thought he was. 7th grader Alice is determined to get to the bottom of this mystery and clear her Dad's good name. As Alice searches for truth, she is led to a complex story that weaves several people's lives.

This is a contemporary Christian fiction novel, and is full of inspiration and love. After reading it you will be inspired to do as Nathan did, spend time giving to others. He figured it took on average 8 minutes a day to reach out to 6 people. 8 minutes is all!! We could take this role model and help One Good Thing lead to another. It was sad of course, any tragedy in a book makes it hard for me to read. I internalize it so much and actually try to avoid them when I can. This one just stood out to me as a must read and I am glad I did. You are able to move past the pain, and the hurt that the family feels, and realize the legacy and blessing that Nathan left behind.

Some books are just stories, to read and say.. yep that was a great story. This book is a great story but more than that it moves you to be a better you!
Profile Image for Trinity Rose.
434 reviews14 followers
March 4, 2013
This is the second book I’ve read written by Kevin Alan Milne and it is just as good as or even better than the first. This book The One Good Thing is one of my favorites for 2013. Truly a book well written full of such love, compassion and an ending you won’t believe.
I like how loving Nathan is and how he helps others and mostly his family. How he would do anything to help others. This book is about Nathan even though he dies before much of the book is written.
How it is wonderful that his daughter whom is thirteen is the only one who believes in him and knows he wouldn’t lie to her and she trusts him completely.
You will experience how each of the people in the story grow and change as the story moves along, but you will also think about how you would react if that happened to you. Would you believe and trust someone you have lived with and known for many, many years.
You will find in The One Good Thing such love, acceptance, perseverance and full forgiveness really is.
If you don’t read any other book this year read The One Good Thing. Kevin Alan Milne is a wonderful story teller and someone who will keep your attention from the first page to the last. I highly recommend this book for a book to keep and read often.

I received my free copy from Sarah Reck at Center Street/HachetteBookGroup, for my review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255
Profile Image for Holly (2 Kids and Tired).
1,037 reviews9 followers
March 7, 2013
Nathan is one of those people who is good and kind and every day he tries to do several acts of kindness. Sometimes those acts are large, but very often they are small and seemingly insignificant except to the person who receives that kindness. When Nathan is tragically killed helping someone else, his family struggles to move forward. As they learn of many acts of kindness performed by Nathan, they learn of a woman from Nathan's past. A woman who claims that Nathan saved her life. As Halley learns more, she believes her husband to have been unfaithful to her. Their daughter Alice believes in her father and sets out to prove that he didn't lie. What the family discovers is an intricate story about a remarkable man.

I read this in a day and it's a book that I want to re-read and savor. I thought I had things figured out and I didn't, completely. I loved these characters and their experiences and growth and I loved the beautiful examples of the ripple effect of choices.

Sometimes you read a book that touches you and makes you want to be a better person. Kevin Alan Milne's books do just that. I want to find 7 small stones and keep them in my pocket.
37 reviews1 follower
February 15, 2014


Wonderful story about the goodness of people and how it can affect those that come into contact with it. Love how the past of Nathan rebuilds his future.....how can a person who is part of a problem become the answer for so many people? One word...."TRANSFORMATION". Nathan's sacrifice so selfless and no one knew how much. He is a reminder that if everyone did something nice for someone else what a better world this would. Good deeds can have huge impacts on the lives of others and his goal of doing at least seven a day is both admirable and ambitious. This goal requires you to look at EVERY situation as an opportunity to help someone. This is more than a book...it's a lifestyle. Thank you Kevin for this story because it helps to capture the goodness of people and how our individual interactions with others impact our vision of the world. Bless you Kevin!!!
Profile Image for Stacy Boyles.
290 reviews5 followers
April 27, 2015
This was a feel good story. I enjoyed reading it but it was somewhat unbelievable. Several of the choices Nathan made were super hard to believe a kid would do those things. But this book did what it set out to do if it wanted me to pay it forward and help others more often. I will think of this book often.
Profile Image for Maria.
6 reviews
February 18, 2019
Читается легко. Но! Совершенно неживые картонные персонажи. Шаблонные диалоги. Главный герой - приторно-сладкий, даже тошно. А поведение героев не поддаётся логическому объяснению. Прочитать и забыть...
Profile Image for Terri Dawson.
10 reviews
March 30, 2013
The One Good Thing by Kevin Alan Milne a book that made me give it a 2nd glance at the library and then gave me a gift of a fabulous read after.
424 reviews
December 8, 2013
What a great book. How one person can influence so many others in a positive way...and sometimes not even realize it..A wonderful, hopeful and uplifting read-
Profile Image for Martha.
937 reviews10 followers
April 8, 2014
not great, but a somewhat predictable and sweet novel about a man who attempts to do at least 6 nice things to other people every day, and some of the influence that has on family members.
Profile Image for Nikki.
299 reviews
June 30, 2017
The One Good Thing made me want to be a kinder person. Nathan Steen is a model human. He keeps six stones in his pocket and moves them to another pocket with each kind deed he does. Nathan lives with his wife Halley, son Ty and daughter Alice. Nathan is killed while he stops to help an injured driver. His wife learns there has been another woman named Maddie and a daughter who appears to be Nathan's. What is the truth? Nathan is the son of a minister. Maddie, Randy (Ty's football coach) and Nathan were friends in high school. Randy loved Maddie. Nathan helped save Maddie's life by saving her and marrying her when her stepfather impregnated her. Nathan pretends to be the father. This causes estranged relations between Nathan and his father, who loses his job and has to move away. Maddie gives up the child and goes on to become a successful professional. The truth comes out when Alice realizes from birth records that her father couldn't be Zoe's father because of his blood type. Maddie and Nathan were never married. Maddie and Randy are still in love. I liked this uplifting story.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Julie.
447 reviews
May 27, 2017
Another book that was a bit disappointing. I don't know if I was expecting more base on some of the reviews I read, or if I just wasn't in the mood for this one, but it had much more of a "chick lit," cheesy feel to it than I thought it would. It was a quick and easy read, and I didn't have any major issues with the characters, so really, it just came down to me having higher expectations than the book delivered. I did enjoy the flashback stories more than I did the present-day, so that could have been a big part of it. I was much more sympathetic with young/teen Madeline than I was adult Madeline. And I enjoyed Ty and Alice's characters more than I did Halley's. This wasn't a bad book, it just wasn't what I had hoped it would be.
Profile Image for Bhaavana Anna.
10 reviews
January 28, 2018
I think that the book should be rated a 4/5 because it wasn't very interesting and it was a regular family story, before someone was happy, and then the main character died, so his secrets started spilling out and his whole family was trying to uncover his lie. When his daughter finds out about this, she doesn't believe her dad would do that to her family, she goes out to find out on her own. At the end, the main character was right and her family decided to carry out her fathers tradition, "One good thing at a time"(Milne 5).
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
33 reviews
April 1, 2023
I just finished this wonderfully uplifting book. I actually got up early to finish the last few pages. If I could have given it more than 5 stars, I would have. His writing does have kind of a Nicholas Sparks feel as it really grabbed my heart, multiple times throughout. I was very curious how he was going to resolve the lies and fictions. And he did, in what for me was a very unexpected way, that made the resolution all the more gratifying. I can truly say, I LOVED this book. Well Done Kevin. WELL DONE!!
Profile Image for Karla Renee Goforth Abreu.
542 reviews8 followers
May 23, 2017
This novel has an excellent premise: live your life self-sacrificially, keep your word, even if these things hurt. It inspires the reader to begin loving life daily, aware of others and their pain. It encourages the reader, through the story of Nathan, to begin the journey by starting with "one good thing" a day. It may even make the reader want to live daily tallying 7 good things and carrying pebbles around!
Profile Image for Diana H..
784 reviews1 follower
September 29, 2017
An excellent object lesson - the lives of these characters are impacted by a lie (told for a seemingly good reason, of course). The entire cast of characters live with the consequences of the lie even though all of them don't know about the lie.
This is a very good story. I really enjoyed the plot and found myself wondering about those "random acts of kindness". Sometimes, I don't even think we recognize these little signs of caring by those around us.
9 reviews
June 2, 2020
A supernatural, yet realistic concept!

I classify this "one good thing" concept of Kevin Milne 's as supernatural because for a person to be caught up in this mindset truly requires the Holy Spirit's presence in our hearts to do good. Psalm 119:32 says: "I will run the way of your commandments, for you will enlarge my heart". A wonderful storyline, Kevin, in support of this biblical truth.
Profile Image for Mickalene.
183 reviews
March 11, 2022
Clean easy read, somewhat predictable but I still enjoyed it. Has a strong Christian pay-it-forward bend. I loved Madeline’s side of the story, and young Alice — and some of the themes around bullying, substance abuse affecting relationships, and our daily choices. Some themes felt a bit underdeveloped, like perfectionist expectations, but if the author had chased all of them, I may have lost interest too. Recommend.
Profile Image for Lorraine.
643 reviews
September 4, 2018
This was an interesting book because I started out really liking the premise that a man was trying to do 6 good deeds everyday. I then hated it as we learned about his "past". I then loved it as the true story came out. A great story that is worth reading. This should be a challenge for all of us to do 7 good deeds everyday.

392 reviews1 follower
February 12, 2017
Loved this novel. Very quick read. Although it was sad that Nathan died in the beginning, I loved how his legacy of doing 6 good things every day lived on. Very touching and makes one want to also carry on his idea.
Profile Image for Erin.
193 reviews1 follower
May 6, 2018
I found this book rather dull until about 2/3rds of the way through and then it, at least in part, started to redeem itself. I still found the storyline and the likelihood of a teenage boy being so self-sacrificing very unbelievable but the book held my attention.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 273 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.