If you read my blog every so often, you probably already know that my friend Michele and I were fortunate enough to meet the one and only Katherine Paterson on an afternoon in September. Also, that afterward we were disappointed - horrible ingrates that we are - because she clearly didn't want to talk with us about her books while we were there. Moreover, that Michele and I afterwards put our heads together and came up with a belated list of questions to ask her, which I emailed to her. Additionally, that I received no response for weeks. And finally, that KP ended up responding to my email after all, telling us she didn't have time to answer our questions, but that she would try to send us "something" instead. Which turned out to be two copies of her recently-published memoir, STORIES OF MY LIFE.
I've finished reading my copy now, and here's my review: many stories, much life. I thought I knew my fair share about KP before, having been more-or-less obsessed with her and her books for many years, and now HAVING BEEN TO HER HOME. (Okay, I confess: when I used her bathroom I was sorely tempted to rifle through her medicine cabinet and steal a KP-purchased Q-tip or something. But my conscience won out. Barely.)Well, it turns out that I didn't know much about her before after all, and I know a lot more now - all of it G-rated (she was a minister's wife, not a Hollywood starlet), much of it frank nonetheless and tinged with self-deprecating humor. There's quite a bit of old-Southern-family history; quite a bit more of globetrotting-missionary-parents history, including her own early childhood in China; a very satisfying collection of family photos; and a respectable dose of her four years living as a missionary in Japan and her ensuing 50 years of married life, children, pets, and writing career. And the book ends with a deeply poignant description of her beloved husband's final illness and death, and what she learned from living through those experiences.
And now I want to give this book away, and I can't really explain why except to say that I think KP would want me to. If you look at her Facebook page, you'll see immediately that she is (at 84) a fully engaged citizen of the world, and that sharing is what she does and what she approves of. I don't think I'll read KP's memoir again unless someone decides to give me a pop quiz on her life, which seems fairly unlikely, so I will happily share my read-but-pristine copy with a lucky winner and fellow Patersonphile. Here's the deal: leave a comment on this post naming your favorite Katherine Paterson book, with a brief explanation as to what makes that book stand out for you. I'll choose my favorite comment and ship the book to the commenter, no matter where he or she lives. The contest begins now and ends next Sunday, the 29th, at 11 p.m. Eastern time. Please enter, and tell your friends about it! I hate running giveaway contests and getting only a handful of entries!!