Book - 2014
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When the Second World War broke out, Ralph MacLean traded his quiet yet troubled life on the Magdalen Islands in eastern Canada for the ravages of war overseas. On the other side of the country, Mitsue Sakamoto and her family felt their pleasant life in Vancouver starting to fade away after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Ralph found himself one of the many Canadians captured by the Japanese in December 1941. He would live out his war in a prison camp, enduring beatings, starvation, electric feet and a journey on a hell ship to Japan, watching his friends and countrymen die all around him. Mitsue and her family were ordered out of their home and were packed off to a work farm in rural Alberta, leaving many of their possessions behind. By the end of the war, Ralph was broken but had survived. The Sakamotos lost everything when the community centre housing their possessions was burned to the ground, and the $25 compensation from the government meant they had no choice but to start again.

Forgiveness intertwines the compelling stories of Ralph MacLean and the Sakamotos as the war rips their lives and their humanity out of their grasp. But somehow, despite facing such enormous transgressions against them, the two families learned to forgive. Without the depth of their forgiveness, this book's author, Mark Sakamoto, would never have existed.

Publisher: Toronto, Ont. : HarperCollinsPublishersLtd., c2014
ISBN: 9781443417976
Branch Call Number: 940.54727 SAK
Characteristics: 245 p. :,ill. ;,24 cm.


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JudeLee Oct 10, 2016

I was very emotional at the way Mark's mother spiralled downward at the end of her life. This description was so vivid. I could visualize it. The birth of the baby was so emotional. I could relate to a difficult delivery (aren't they all difficult), but I could not relate to Mark's reaction and support. It was so heartwarming and real. Despite the dysfunction of his childhood, he was a real man to his wife, supporting her. Overall, a very good read.

Aug 29, 2015

I looked forward to reading this book, but was disappointed because reads like a personal journal, citing memory after memory, rather than developing the complexity of the promise of forgiveness. It appears to have been a cathartic process for the author to get his thoughts and feelings into a book, but the work suffers for lack of a mature and carefully researched perspective. There is much personal opinion and some local knowledge inaccuracies in the book. It is odd to read about the thoughts and feelings of the people in the book as though the author was present at every event and reading their minds.

May 22, 2015

This was a little gem that ended up being so much more that what I expected of it. I would recommend this to anyone. It is highly informative and incredibly inspiring, all while being very readable.

May 04, 2015

Sakamoto eloquently describes the wartime experiences of two Canadians, his paternal grandmother Mitsui and his maternal grandfather Ralph. The disenfranchisement of Japanese Canadians based on ethnicity was racism as unacceptable as the Nazi treatment of Jews in Europe. But the brutality of the Japanese army against Canadian prisoners of war captured in China, then enslaved in Japanese factories, was even more horrific.

Sakamoto describes how his grandparents were able to move on after the war and forgive their transgressors.

But what he fails to show us was how these scars affected their own children. his parents. I found the uneven treatment of Sakamoto's parents a big hole in the tale that left me often confused. Just who forgave whom for what was not made wholly clear to me.

ksoles Jul 24, 2014

An old soldier survives the brutality of a Japanese POW camp after the fall of Hong Kong. The Japanese roots of a young Canadian bride force her from her B.C. home. An author deals with his mother's descent into alcoholism and poverty while drawing strength and the power to forgive from his grandparents. Though seemingly disparate stories, all three morph into one in Torontonian Mark Sakamoto's "Forgiveness." A moving, harrowing and engaging book, it began as an essay and unfortunately reads like a hybrid, never totalling more than its parts.

In the first section, Sakamoto's grandfather, Ralph McLean, receives quick and ineffective training from the Canadian army before being sent to defend the indefensible Hong Kong. Through powerful writing, Sakamoto details the savagery shown by the Japanese post-takeover and describes the slow death that many faced by starvation and horrendous working/living conditions. The second story tells of Sakamoto's grandmother, Mitsue, a young dressmaker and Canadian citizen. Citizen or not, fear, racism and jealousy see her and her family interned to Alberta to work in the sugar beet fields.

Finally, Sakamoto recounts his own childhood in Medicine Hat and lovingly relates his grandparents' acceptance and love for each other. However, the bridges built by his grandparents read in awkward contrast to his own attempt to forgive his mother for paving her ultimately self-destructive path.

Sakamoto has penned a powerful memoir, which comes without preaching, warning or lesson teaching. He shows that victory lies in moving on, in refusing to be defined by injurious years and in living life in the present.

Jun 27, 2014

What an incredibly interesting and thought provoking book.

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