An intensely personal, heartwarming, and heartbreaking chronicle of one mother and child's painful experience trying to fit in at a prestigious private elementary school.
"Dear Diary Boy is a heart-wrenching, revelatory and shocking memoir that opens a fascinating window into the world of traditional Japanese education. Kumiko Makihara tells a beautiful and universal story of the hard choices so many women face and the depth of a mother’s love." —Amy Chua, Yale Law Professor and author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and Political Tribes
"To straddle two cultures is to feel always, to some extent, a stranger; add in the strange country of motherhood, and things become even more difficult. Kumiko Makihara's memoir--anguished, defiant, joyful, and unflinchingly honest--is difficult to read but harder to put down. In our increasingly hybrid global culture, it is an important story."—Janice P. Nimura, author of Daughters of the Samurai: A Journey from East to West and Back
"Kumiko Makihara has written a spare, thoughtful gem of a book about the education of her charming if exasperating son that should be read by anyone interested in modern Japan. It speaks volumes about motherhood, boyhood, cross-cultural adjustment and the power of conformism and parental ambition everywhere."—Jonathan Alter, author of The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies
“Kumiko Makihara’s eloquent memoir offers a rare glimpse into Japanese parenting from deep inside. She is a conscientious mother jumping to meet the challenges thrown her way by an elite Tokyo school, but the struggles are daunting, as she and her son search for their own place in the system. At once moving, distressing, hilarious and very informative.” —Stacy Perman, author of In-N-Out Burger and A Grand Complication
"Hilarious and poignant. Any parent swept up in our testing culture will understand how Kumiko Makihara’s hopes and dreams gave way to the insanity of competition in a Japanese elementary school. And they will marvel at Taro’s refreshing oblivion to the crazy culture in which he is immersed."—Debbie Stier, author of The Perfect Score Project
"Compulsively readable, hilarious and hopeful, Kumiko Makihara's memoir tells two stories—one of a mother and son traversing the treacherous 21st century terrain of private education—the other of a sensitive writer whose own creative spark was nearly extinguished by culture, society, gender and her own well-meaning parents. With writing that is lyrical and emotional but without an ounce of sentimentality, she captures the fleeting wonder of childhood and the particular pain of a parent tasked with ushering that spirit into the realities of adulthood. A must-read for any parent who's ever wondered when to step in and when to step back." — Kathryn Bowers, author of Zoobiquity
"Dear Diary Boy is a poignant story of the lengths a mother will go for her son. It's also an insightful portrayal of the conformity of Japanese society. Anyone who has ever felt like an outsider will relate to Kumiko Makihara's book."— Elliott Holt, You Are One of Them
Kumiko Makihara’s work has appeared in the International Herald Tribune, the New York Times Magazine and Newsweek, as well as in the books Reimagining Japan: The Quest for a Future That Works and Tsunami: Japan’s Post Fukushima Future. She previously was a reporter for Time Magazine and the Associated Press and a features editor at the Moscow Times. She resides in New York City and Tokyo.