Cover Image: Stories of My Life

Stories of My Life

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Member Reviews

This book was oddly compelling. I love the way Katherine crafts her words, infusing her stories with faith and wit. I found myself laughing, tearing up, and being inspired to gather all of her books for myself and my family.  You don't have to have read her books to appreciate this collection of autobiographical stories, but it's fun to see her tie her life to the books. A joy to read.
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I still remember the first time I read Bridge to Terabithia, it was as a novel study in grade 5, but it quickly became one of my favourite books.  I have read a number of other books by Katherine Paterson over the years and enjoyed most of them, but Bridge to Terabithia will always hold a special place in my heart.  Reading the story about the real life events that inspired the writing of the book gave me many of the same feelings I got when reading Bridge for the first time.

I enjoyed reading about the life events of Katherine Paterson as she shared in this book.  Seeing how her life, especially her time in both China and Japan, and her faith inspired the writing of her books was great.  I hadn't known much about her before reading this book, so now I feel I have a little bit more understanding about the woman who authored one of the stories of my childhood.  She was really able to catch the attention of readers of all age, and get them invested into the stories she told, which not all authors are able to do.

I received an advanced copy of this book from Netgalley, all opinions are my own.
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Stories of My Life, by Katherine Paterson

Thank you to John Knox Westminster Publishers and NetGalley for an advanced reader’s copy of this book.

This updated memoir, by the 90-year-old multiple-award-winning children’s author, reads almost like an adventure story.  

Born to missionary parents in China in 1932, Paterson gives a lively and sympathetic recounting of her early life and the important people in it, framed by the Japanese-Sino War in the late 1930’s.  Her family returned to America at the start of WWII, where for the first time she felt alien, and she tellingly compares her trepidation and anxiety with going to a public school in America to experiencing war and evacuation.  The public schools were worse.

Paterson goes on to be a missionary herself, in 1950’s Japan, and writes that being loved by people you thought you hated is something she wishes everyone could have.

After a whirlwind courtship, she marries minister John Paterson, and together they have two children, adopt two more, and act as foster parents.  And she begins to write and publish her celebrated books, including The Bridge to Terabithia, The Great Gilly Hopkins, The Sign of the Chrysanthemum, Jacob Have I Loved, and many more that are either based on her fascination with history or her own lived experiences.

One of the most appealing parts of the book, to me, was her description of the links from her life to the inception and themes of her books, and the power of stories to make sense of life.  She writes that while a critic has said it is hope that runs through her creations, she believes it is grace, “unmerited favor that has poured down on [her] all the days of [her] life.”

While it can be difficult to untangle the details of generations of her large family and the chronology of her many journeys, included charts of both are helpful.  And it is a pleasure to read such a sensitive reflection on a busy life, full of unusual events yet with delight in common ways of living we all can share through loved family and friends.
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Just a lovely memoir that will leave you with a warm heart. I enjoyed all her “ kitchen sink”  stories and it just made me love this author more. From a beloved children’s author that made such an impact that still has the power to make me smile with her stories.
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A memoir filled with stories from a life well lived. Paterson has certainly had many adventures that the rest of us can only dream of. For those of us who know her as a children's writer, this memoir is an opportunity to learn how and why she writes what she does.

Thank you to NetGalley for an advance copy of this book. I enjoyed knowing more about her!
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An author that made me fall in love with reading and the idea of being a writer one day after reading her young adult books at a very impressionable age. 
The story of her life is amazing, and she crafts her memories as a painter crafts his beautiful masterpieces. 
Sometimes, you learn about a "hero" of you looked up to, and you are a bit disappointed. 
Ms. Paterson remains a hero, even more so, with such an diverse upbringing. 
Can't wait to handsell this book!
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Stories of My Life is an updated edition of an earlier book, and I am glad to see these stories, essays, and other short works again. Katherine Paterson writes equally well in every work she puts her hand to, and it is a pleasure to look behind the curtain of her life to see the people and places that left their mark on her.
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Thank you NetGalley for the copy of this book.  Not a memoir just a conversation with your favorite author.  Katherine was humble and likable and it made me want to re read all of her books.  I loved the personal stories and learning how they connected with the characters and plots in her books.  This book leaves you smiling!
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Memoirs are my jam! This one was fantastic. Well written and interesting. Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC. Five stars.
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If you have read Bridge to Terabithia or Jacob Have I Loved, you have met and fallen under the spell of Katherine Paterson’s writing. The two-time winner of both the Newbery Medal and the National Book Award writes with a special sensitivity toward children and an understanding of the plight of being human which has endeared her to readers since her first novel was published in 1973. Now, at the age of 91, she shares Stories of My Life, a look back over her shoulder at the shaping influences that have impacted her writing over the course of her long life.

Because her parents were missionaries to China, Paterson’s childhood was both mobile and non-traditional with multiple trips to and from a land that saw its fair share of upheaval in the early half of the 20th century. Certainly, she can point to a richness of experience and a loving family, but she also remembers the Valentine’s Day party in first grade when she didn’t receive any valentines from her classmates–likely a downside of her itinerant education.

Even so, she followed in her parents’ footsteps as a missionary, but she served in Japan, and I was fascinated by her speculation that because of contemporary attitudes toward traditional missions, she could have come into writing from a career as a prostitute and received less criticism and done less explaining.

The book reads like a friendly conversation over tea with a friend who has lived long and well. Writers will benefit from her casual descriptions of her practices and thoughts on what she calls “the fragile magic” of storytelling. Readers of her well-known body of work will enjoy getting the backstory behind the fiction. Everyone will learn and be challenged by her love of family, her positive outlook, and her clear determination to live as a conduit of the grace she has received.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Westminster John Knox Press for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which is, of course, offered freely and with honesty.
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You don't need to love Katherine Paterson's books to enjoy Stories of My Life. In fact, you don't need to have read any of her books to enjoy this one!  I had heard of Katherine Paterson before, and I'm almost sure I've seen a copy of "Bridge to Terabithia" at some point in my life. Still, I've never read the book or any of her other books, surprisingly, because her books sound like something my parents would have bought for us. 

Stories of My Life is a collection of stories about Katherine's life and the people who were important to her. She's met very brave and extraordinary people, and she's led a very full and adventurous life, embracing the challenges and adventures as they came along, making her life one very worth reading about. 

I'm thankful to Katherine Paterson for sitting down at her desk once more to share these stories with us, as well as to Westminster John Knox Press and Netgalley for the ARC.  All opinions are my own.
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Before reading this book, I had never heard of Katherine Paterson or any of her books. She has written over 40 and has won many prestigious awards, including the Newberry medal three times. All those awards obviously did not go to her head, though, from the tone of this autobiography. She was a missionary kid and they often grow up to be very well balanced, very humble and very real in general.

Mrs. Paterson herself would later do some missionary work in Japan, as an adult, which was challenging from the start, due to the language and due to the fact the Japanese were frightening people during her childhood in China. As predicted, however, her views of the Japanese quickly changed in the years she served in Japan, during the late 1950s and early 1960s.

After the missionary days, she marries a minister who actually told her he wanted to marry her because he wanted to marry an adult, not a girl he would have to raise! Their marriage was a long, happy one and they had two sons, as well as a daughter adopted from China and a daughter adopted from the White Mountain Apache Reservation. There are many amusing stories about the kids, even though Mrs. Paterson is no Erma Bombeck. (A missionary kid couldn't grow up to be an Erma Bombeck.)

Her writing life and books take off, too, but she does not spend much time discussing the nuts and bolts of her writing. Hence, don't see this book as one written to inspire writers and give them writing tips. It's simply a highly interesting memoir by a woman writer who has no need to impress anyone, but who has certainly impressed many, many individuals during her long life.

(Note: I received a free e-ARC of this book from NetGalley and the publisher.)
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Katherine Paterson was one of my favourite authors growing up, and I love reading memoirs/life stories of authors, so how could I not love this book? I'm grateful that I came across it on NetGalley, because I wasn't aware of the existence of the earlier version.

It was a delight to see how Katherine's family stories and her own experiences set the stage for some of the books that meant so much to me when I was younger - and now I want to go find the ones I missed out on decades ago!

Thanks to NetGalley and to the publisher for the chance to read this.
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Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

First time reading anything by this author. I really enjoyed it.
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Katherine Paterson is an American treasure and this book has so many special remembrances that will please her many fans. Thanks to #NetGalley and #StoriesOfMyLife for advanced digital copy.
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Excellent memori about this award winning writers life -
Antidotes of her life brought up by missionaries and her own similar path -
There is a reason she has won so many awards for her words!
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In an updated adult version of a book published by Dial Books for Young Readers in 2014, Westminster John Knox Press brings us Stories of My Life, by Katherine Paterson. It has differences and similarities to a memoir. It begins with a look at her heritage with a host of interesting ancestors. She moves from those to her early years as a child of Presbyterian missionaries in China, the place that will feel like home to her for much of her childhood. The individual stories she tells as she becomes young adult in Japan and on the East Coast lead to those of her marriage and children. Her husband’s unflagging support and strong marriage are pictured through lean times as she pursues her dream of becoming a writer and continue through her winning of multiple literary awards. Experiences with her children provide by turns both amusing and touching experiences that wind up fictionalized in her stories. 

Readers of her books will enjoy the stories of the models she identifies for the characters that populate them and may form opinions about others that seem familiar. Nuggets of wisdom thread their way through her stories. My favorite is one I had heard from her before which has a permanent place on my bulletin board because I relate to it so well, “The people who took my time were the very people who gave me something to write about.” Her life is filled family, faith, and fiction, which may seem ironic in the light of the number of her books that have been challenged and are being noted in this banned books season.

Certainly, any readers who have loved Katherine Paterson books will find these stories fascinating, especially as they marry the people in her life who serve as models – both positive and negative – with the people in her books. But be forewarned, reading this book may make you want to read any Katherine Paterson book that has escaped your attention and to reread those that did not.
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This wonderfully diverse collection of stories and vignettes is Katherine’s own telling of her “kitchen sink stories”; stories that were told to her while washing the dishes with her mother and siblings. 
Katherine begins the stories with tales of her grandparents and continues with the story of her parents’ meeting and marriage, and her childhood, especially the memories of her early life in China as the daughter of Presbyterian missionaries. The family’s faith shines through all of the stories, a tie that binds the generations together. 
Her stories have been a favorite of mine since the first one I read, and reading the inspiration and process of her writing encourages me to go back and reread them. 

I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of Stories of My Life. All opinions expressed are my own.
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Apparently, this book was first released in 2014 but I had not read it and it was a joy to discover it in this new edition. Katherine Paterson is a well-known Newbery award winning author who has written many books for children and young adults. As a school librarian I have read some of her books but not all of them. I'm afraid I was a little gun shy after reading Bridge to Terabithia my first year as a school librarian -- I loved the book, but the ending left me in tears of course. This book of stories that she has told many times to her family and in speeches were mostly new to me and very appealing. She has lived a remarkable life. Born in 1932 in China to missionary parents, they returned to the U.S. at the start of WW II,  When their hopes of moving back to China were eventually dashed, they moved around quite a bit as her father held various jobs for the Presbyterian Church. As she relates family stories of her family and experiences, the stories draw you in.
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True confession: This is my first experience reading anything by Katherine Paterson.

Which is notable, because a) she wrote _Bridge to Terabithia_ (among other books!), and b) I read enough Newbery Award winners and/or nominees in elementary school, I surely should have read one of her books by now.

And yet, here we are.

I do remember hearing about _Terabithia_, and a vague recollection of fellow school-age readers' shock that a character dies at some point. (Maybe?) I think that's why I never picked it up. (If that's the case, it's also a miracle I ever read, let alone re-read, _Where the Red Fern Grows_. Again, here we are.)

Paterson is an engaging, charming, and witty author, and reading _Stories of My Life_ (which turns out to be a re-release of a previous edition) makes me want to check out some of her other books--including _Terabithia_. At least I can go into it knowing "something big happens." LOL. The best kind of spoiler alert, as I don't remember enough (and am uncertain enough of its accuracy) that I'm not convinced it counts as a spoiler.

Paterson's focus in this book, on sharing the stories she heard so often over the years to ensure they're passed to the next generation, is inspiring. My grandfather did the same, in a book primarily published for the family--and it's something I would love to see more of us do. We always think we'll ask later, and one day ... later is no longer possible. So my biggest takeaway is "Ask! Ask now!" Have the conversations while you can...and write them down or share them in whatever fashion you wish, such that they can be remembered later.

Fans of Paterson and newbies alike will enjoy this insightful read into her life, into an era and locales vastly different than here and now. Similarly, aspiring and established writers will both enjoy this as an opportunity to learn the art from one of the best.

3.5 stars, rounded up to 4.

I received an eARC of the book from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
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