Eastern Sun, Winter Moon: An Autobiographical Odyssey

ISBN: 0156002035
ISBN 13: 9780156002035
By: Gary Paulsen

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About this book

In this memoir of a World War II childhood, Paulsen paints a haunting self-portrait of a young boy drawn helplessly into the physical and emotional violence of the adult world. “An indelible account...hallmarked by Paulsen’s sinewy writing” (Kirkus Reviews).

Reader's Thoughts


Wonderful autobiography told in youth voice. Really enjoy Gary Paulsen's writing.


FASCINATING memoir of Paulsen's childhood travels with his strong, promiscuous mother, to reunite with his father in the Philippines after WWII.


This was a very interesting book and a fast read. I couldn't recommend it to everyone because it has some distrubing content. This is a biography about 2 years in the life of Gary Paulsen when he was 7. He lived thru more life in those 2 years than I ever will - I wouldn't have wanted some of his experiences. Now I want to know more about Gary, I know he is a very popular YA author. He must be very gook at relating to troubled youth.

Meghan Barich

This book was such a thrill to my young mind and ignited my love for escaping to adventures in the written word.

Liz Brennan

Each book I read by Gary Paulsen is better than the last. I plan to read them all.


This is a fascinating autobiography by one of my favorite writers. Paulsen is a manly man writer, but very skillful and psychologically well tuned. His early life is truly amazing; here he recounts traveling with his mother from Chicago to the Philippines at the end of WWII, and the adventures they had. Makes my life seem so....uneventful.

Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly

A photo in sepia right at the bottom right hand portion of the book's cover immediately caught my attention as it suggested it may have a Philippine setting. A couple on a table, caucasians, having beer and right at the background are the familiar sliding window panels made of wood and capiz shells. We have the same type of window in our ancestral house in the province.I was right. Gary Paulsen (I often see his books but do not buy or read them) spent a few years in the Philippines as a young boy when his father, a military man, was assigned there immediately after the second world war. The man and the woman in the picture were his parents.Inside the copy of the book which I bought second had is a note from a girl named Sarah Leonard, addressed to a boy named Tim, saying:"Hi Tim --"This was a Great Read!"A little intense but from a kid's view point were tolerable some how --"Thanks for lending it - "Sarah"Gary Paulsen's mother was an attractive woman. Here he claims to have watched his mother getting fucked by other men. While in the Philippines they had a housemaid in her twenties and it is hinted that she had been made a sex slave by the Japanese. Yet one time, she seduced Gary Paulsen and had sex with him. He was only about 8 years old then.I try to recall what had happened to me when I was his age, from 6 to 9 years old, and imagine if I could write a 242-page memoir like this. I cannot. Nothing much I can remember. So most of the things here were probably just made up. There are even some glaring inaccuracies which a simple cross-checking could have been avoided. Like when he referred to Fort Santiago (a Spanish fortress used by the Japanese as a prison) as "Sandiago Prison"; Baguio, the summer capital of the Philippines, as "Bagiou Mountains." He narrated that while in Baguio he saw--"The mountains (which) were beautiful. The cottage looked out over the ocean and we were so high we could see down into the crater of another volcanic mountain island some miles away. It was possible to see a lake down inside the crater and villages around the lake."Trouble is, Baguio is in the middle of Luzon and one cannot see any ocean or any big body of water from there. From this description it would seem they were in Tagaytay, near the Taal Volcano, where there is this massive old cauldron which had turned into a lake and in the middle of this is a smaller crater with water also in the middle. However, from the author's narration they met Igorots (aborigines) along the way and this could happen only on the way to Baguio, not Tagaytay. And anybody who knows "balut" and how it is made will find amusement reading the author's recollection of this native delicacy:"I had even learned to love baloots. They were a food that made Mother ill thinking of them--a baby duck killed inside the egg just before it hatched and then allowed to sit in hot sand and rot inside until it became almost a liquid-jelly combination...."


The autobiography of Gary Paulsen, Eastern Sun, Winter Moon is the chronicle of of a remarkable childhood. Born during WWII, young Gary lives with his mother in Chicago while his father is away in Europe, fighting in the war. Mother works in a munitians factory and Gary stays home with a neighbor that drinks red wine and talks to the radio. When Mother comes home, she washes of the grime and becomes another woman-a movie star type beauty that draws all the men's eyes. When Father has a "friend" in France, Mother also gets a "friend", which disturbs Gary and sets the stage for future indiscretions. When the war ends, Mother and Gary go to live with Father in the Philippines. After a cross country drive, a bout of chicken pox and a long boat ride with stops in Hawaii and Japan, Gary finally gets to meet his father. At 7 years old, Gary does not feel very connected to his father, but does feel that his mother should be faithful to him no matter what. From the soldiers and sailors Gary has learned to swear, how to "shoot a crap" and what sex is all about. From his parents he learns that he hates drinking and what it does to people and from his parents servants he learns about the Philippine lifestyle and eventually goes "native."I greatly enjoyed this book. Gary Paulsen is an imaginative author and this definitely shows up in this autobiography. The imagery is so vivid that you feel as if you are standing next to him on the deck of the ship and feel his shock when he bites off his tongue in a childhood game. It does feel, after the fact, that some of this might have been imbellished or made up, but the times were very different than they are now. Gary Paulsen is the author of many teen books; probably most well know are Hatchet, The River and Brian's Winter.

Avis Black

This book is the single nastiest memoir I've ever read, and that includes Holocaust memoirs. The book starts with Paulsen's mother kicking a man to death and continues on with more pointless violence and death until you reach utter despair at the nihilism of life. Sartre and Camus have nothing on Paulsen.

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