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Stories of My Life

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  209 ratings  ·  52 reviews
From her childhood in China to the moment she won her first National Book Award, literary icon Katherine Paterson shares the personal stories that inspired her children’s books.
Told with her trademark humor and heart, Paterson's tales reveal details about her life from her childhood with missionary parents, to living as a single woman in Japan, to raising four children in
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published October 16th 2014 by Dial Books (first published October 1st 2014)
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Average rating 3.92  · 
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 ·  209 ratings  ·  52 reviews

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Sep 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I really adored this book. Not only because Katherine Paterson wrote one of my favorite childhood books, but because her life is crazy amazing! And she knows how to tell a good story! Although, the timeline can get a little confusing, there is a lot of bouncing around in a chapter (and so many of her relatives have the same names!) it was so enjoyable. It really was like hearing a grandmother tell her tales. I especially loved the ones about her children and her adoption stories. I really felt a ...more
Mar 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I love Katherine Paterson and, although I had heard many of these stories in her talks over the decades, I was happy to hear the familiar ones again and to read some new ones. I was especially delighted to find she'd included the story of Eugene, a wonderful story I would happily hear her tell again and again. Her moving account of her husband's recent death is a beautiful illustration of how he "showed me in his dying that there is nothing to fear in death."
Feb 10, 2018 rated it liked it
I love Katherine Paterson - too often neglected in discussions of "faith in contemporary fiction." This is a collection of "kitchen sink" stories, as she says in the introduction (i.e. stories she would have told her kids while they did the dishes ... if they hadn't had a dishwasher), and does feel like a little bit of a grab bag - some great anecdotes and insights mixed into a fairly unstructured narrative.

One of the best stories in the book is Paterson talking about the time when she didn't
Holly Splawn
Sep 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
The only thing I knew about Katherine Paterson before I read this was that she wrote Bridge to Terebithia and My Brigadista Year.
In this book Katherine tells many stories from her life which have inspired her writing. Even though I haven’t read many of her books, I enjoyed reading about her remarkable life.

My favorite part was her father’s reassurance that they would never leave her in the US to return to their mission work in China, even if that was only way they could go. Her lesson from that
Aug 09, 2017 rated it liked it
I like memoirs and "life vignettes" . . . which is what this book provided. Katherine Paterson is an award winning children's author with lots of books to her credit. I was also interested in her early life as a very young child of Presbyterian missionaries in 1930s era China. Learned also that she served as a missionary to Japan before marriage and family (4 children). About half the stories of her life are "pre-author" career and half are stories of her writing successes. A quick read.
Apr 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
I appreciated reading some vignettes of Katherine Paterson's life. She lives in Barre, we have friends in common and she has served me tea at the Presbyterian Scottish tea. I think I even have a picture with her.

Anyway, I remember trying to hold back the tears as I read Bridge to Terabithia aloud to my second graders, laughing at the shenanigans of the great Gilly Hopkins, thinking of my Shanley ancestors in reading Lyddie etc.

Reading this book has whet my appetite to read some more of her
Jul 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A lovely audio book that covers her life and moved me to tears with the description of her husband's death. This was unfortunate since I was driving. I liked the narrator's quiet gentle tones, which were also good for letting my son nap as we drove across the state. My favorite bits were the inside stories about her books, although I also really enjoyed her childhood in China and the American south.
Nov 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was an accidental find, but I'm so glad I found it! Katherine Paterson has such a delightful outlook (and inlook!) and I have often appreciated her insight on literature, teaching children, and processing life. This collection of stories about her life and family is insightful and heartwarming. I especially appreciated her thoughts on motherhood, which were humble and full of grace. She lived quite a life and lived it well!
Interesting if you're a fan of this award-winning children's author. Short tales from her interesting life. Some parts are more engaging than others (slow start with stories about her grandparents). Especially liked the parts that relate to her writing, such as the tragedy that inspired Bridge to Terabithia, a favorite of mine.
Charity Dušíková
Mar 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was an interesting read, full of the experiences of Paterson in China, in Japan, and as a mother, author. Yet she was very strict in saying it wasn't a memoir but rather a relation of stories of people in her life-and in her case, very interesting people. It makes me want to read more of her work.
Jul 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
What a great collection of stories from Katherine Paterson’s life! She experienced so many interesting things and wove those stories together beautifully. It made me want to reread all the books I read eons ago and find those I haven’t read.
Oct 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Really went back and forth on this one. I’m sure it had more meaning for those who knew her better or even those who are more familiar with her works which I realized I sadly wasn’t. Parts were really good and very moving; she definitely has a wonderful voice and way of writing.
Nov 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Probably the best $1 that I’ve ever spent. Very lucky find at Dollar Tree.

In spite of being a retired children’s librarian, there are quite a few of Katherine Paterson’s books that I have never read. Now that I understand the context of all of them, I am going to correct the oversight.
Jun 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed her autobiography. Paterson has a very interesting background and even more interesting stories to go along with it.
May 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Katherine Paterson tells the story of her life and what a story it is. She has lead an amazing life; it's no wonder she writes amazing books. I listened to the audiobook and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Pam Turley
Apr 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Interesting stories about the remarkable life of the author of The Bridge to Terabithia, but I would have been able to make more connections had I read more of Katherine Paterson's books.
Oct 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
A wonderful story of a great writer who has touched so many young adults lives - looking forward to reading some more of her works!
Dec 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a difficult book to determine a proper rating for, because how do you rate the stories of a person's life? I am also a bit biased, because I was fortunate enough to hear Katherine Paterson speak last fall at a literacy conference held at my high school alma mater. I found her to be incredibly thoughtful, and her speech moved me. I told her afterward, as she was signing my copy of "The Great Gilly Hopkins," that her words were brilliant. I am not sure she knew how to react to that, but ...more
Elizabeth R
I decided not to rate this one, because it's essentially a chronology of her life, and how could I put a value to someone's life experiences??

I'm a huge fan KP's books, always have been. I still think of "Jacob Have I Loved" as one of the more beautiful books in that age bracket. I was kind of expecting similar writing quality here, but I got the impression that the editor barely touched these pages. Things seemed to be organized according to people, so the chronology doesn't really flow or make
Oct 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
As a child, I had read several of Katherine Paterson's books and loved them, which is what initially made me think that I would enjoy reading this book. Then, reading the reviews, I noted that she had spent her childhood in China with her missionary parents and had been a missionary herself before her marriage. This appealed to me as a Christian and combined with my initial interest was enough to convince me to read it. And I'm so glad I did - a truly wonderful book. (You don't need to be a ...more
Jenni V.
Oct 29, 2014 rated it liked it
It's not for everyone but I love people's stories so I didn't mind this read. It reminded me of a Sunday visit, just sitting around listening to stories. I imagine it would be a good audiobook if that format has been made.

She presented an interesting perspective when she realized her children weren't as familiar with the family lore she had grown up with. She said it was the transition to a dishwasher; when people hung out in the kitchen working together to wash and dry the dishes they would
Nov 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biog-and-memoir
Katherine Paterson was born in China of missionary parents, spent time in Japan as a missionary when she was a single woman, and lived in Takoma Park, MD with her minister husband and her four children for a number of years before moving to Vermont. Here she tells stories of those times, and relates the people and events in these stories to characters in her many award-wining children’s books. I enjoyed this book as a children’s librarian and also because I had a friend who had spent her ...more
Nov 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating biography of Katharine Paterson from her parents life to her life story in Virginia, the Carolina's, China
, Japan , Washington D.C. Area, And Vermont. Her book describes her life, her emotions and how that life and emotions have influenced her writing. She gives insight into her life story with experiences raising their four children and being a wife, mother and writer. A chronology and a family tree are included in this book which makes it a complete autobiography. The family pets
Lisa Enqvist
Dec 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Katherine Paterson never fails to fascinate me. It was lovely to read the stories that later in one way or another became the inspiration for her books. I also enjoy her down to earth humor which she reveals in situations when she had won fame. A friend was once trying to explain to a group about Katherine being presented as the National Ambassador for Young People. Instead she said: "She's in Washington being made a national embarrassment." When she realized what she had said, she tried to ...more
In this memoir, rather than telling a straight autobiography, Newbery Award winning children's author Katherine Paterson picks and chooses "stories" from her life, and her family's history, and presents them in chronological order. Her life, particularly her early years, when her parents were missionaries in China in the 1920s and 30s, was not without excitement, but most of the tales seemed to me to have a quality of having been so repeated many times that they've become worn as smooth as river ...more
Dec 13, 2014 rated it liked it
This was a book that I started.. read a couple of the books and then determined to finish.. the first half is a little slow although interesting as it is all about her parents and their parents..the book really picks up as she gets into her life .. schools, missionary work, children, writing, etc... and also includes how her life impacted or brought about the plot of many of her works.. she does a lot of name dropping at the end and award listing too.. but she has led quite an interesting and ...more
Oct 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bios-celebs
Katherine Paterson is the reason I became such an avid reader. Bridge to Terabithia was the first real book I ever read. I read the book in the fifth grade, and fell in the love with the characters and story. It was the first book to ever make me cry. Up until that point I had no idea books could cause such an effect. I enjoyed learning about Paterson’s life. She gave much insight into her family, career, and travels through her life.
Lonna Pierce
Apr 05, 2015 rated it liked it
An extraordinary children's author fills us in on her unusual life as a missionary in China & Japan, mother of 4 (2 adopted,)dog lover, and winner of the Newbery & National Book Awards. Paterson reveals the intense internal process of writing a novel and reveals the inspiration for many characters & situations in "Jacob Have I Loved," "Bridge to Terabithia," "The Sign of the Chrysanthemum," " The Great Gilly Hopkins," "Lyddie,"and many others.
Jan 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Having read two of her books for youngsters, and after hearing her interview on NPR, I put this book on my Christmas list. I just finished reading it last night and besides the two new lawn rakes (I like gifts that impact my life!) that I received for Christmas, it was the best gift I received! I laughed and have retold some of the funny parts, and teared up at the end. A rich, full, life she has experienced which is skillfully shared in this book!
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From author's website:

People are always asking me questions I don't have answers for. One is, "When did you first know that you wanted to become a writer?" The fact is that I never wanted to be a writer, at least not when I was a child, or even a young woman. Today I want very much to be a writer. But when I was ten, I wanted to be either a movie star or a missionary. When I was twenty, I wanted
“she had stood at the gate of her compound and told the Japanese soldiers there that if they tried to come in and get her girls, they would have to do it across her dead body. This” 3 likes
“The conquering army had perpetrated untold atrocities. The Japanese had occupied my home and twice forced us to leave the land I loved.” 2 likes
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