to welcome with shouts of joy and approval
Memoirs of a Mask Maker is one of the most captivating memoirs you’ll ever read. From beginning to end, this is a flat-out beautifully written book with characters that pop off the page and scenes that are somehow sweet, funny and haunting all at once. Kathryn Graven has a journalist’s eye for just the right detail, description and dialogue. She’s able to capture growing up in the Midwest, coming of age in Japan and struggling to make sense of it afterward. You’ll read passages aloud to others in the room. It’s that good.
Sam Roe, Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist
How can we travel from overwhelming grief to the first stirrings of a life plan that will work—and then to the long-sought reassurance of being loved, and being able to love again? I've never read a book that's so honest, so revealing, and so inspiring. Share this book with everyone in your life who's survived hard times—or is hoping to get to a better place. Kathryn Graven isn't just a mask maker; she's a teacher, a friend and a healer.
George Anders, Pulitzer Prize honoree and author of You Can Do Anything
Kathryn Graven has written a wise and wonderful memoir that demonstrates how intercultural exchanges—in her case, with Japan—can have a profound impact on one’s vision, career, and life trajectory. In a world full of division and distrust, her personal journey of giving and receiving understanding, comfort, and love with her Japanese family and friends is deeply inspiring and urgently relevant.
Glen S. Fukushima, Former President, American Chamber of Commerce in Japan
Former Deputy Assistant United States Trade Representative for Japan and China
I am reading, scarcely taking a breath. It’s wonderful. Kathryn Graven’s description of her childhood and passage to adulthood are brilliantly described and emotionally spot on. In this coming of age story, Graven’s search for family and identity is a picaresque journey out of midwest America to Japan. There, she finds both family and a life’s work. I deeply relate to the stories Graven tells of a changing Japan and personal transformation.
Merry White, Professor of Anthropology, Boston University
Memoirs of a Mask Maker is a powerful, moving testament to meeting monumental loss with passion, determination and outsized creativity. In this tour de force of a book, Kathryn Graven delivers a paean to the ability of artistic endeavor to transform grief into beauty. Again and again, she shows how choosing love over despair can transcend cultural differences and ancient wounds to stitch together healing connections that can enable one to build a triumphant, generous life.
Susan Deborah King, Poet and Author of Coven,
One-Breasted Woman, Bog Orchids and Moon Dance
Kathryn Graven’s memoir is a stunning literary example of the Japanese art of Kintsugi; repairing what is broken with gold. This inspiring, fast-paced and deeply moving story is filled with wisdom that comes from fully embracing the life one is given.
Michael S. Glaser, Poet Laureate of the US State of Maryland 2004-2009
Kathryn Graven's beautiful story allowed me to understand in a concrete way how we grow up and come to create our own households. She shows us how traditions—in this case global ones—become the centerpiece of what bonds and ultimately passes to the next generation. I had always wondered how homes and hearths are developed—as this is not taught in any formal way. The answer lies within this vital book.
Jane West, Early Childhood Development And Trauma Specialist,
Heart of the West Counseling, Colorado
In riveting fashion, Kathryn Graven takes us on a journey from early childhood loss to creative involvement in life-changing experiences. Her story offers a powerful example to those struggling with loss who wonder if there is a way forward for them. To use religious language, her memoir illustrates the movement from deep grief to joyous resurrection.
Rev. Dr. Donald A. Wells, Old South Church, Boston