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Forgiveness

A Gift from My Grandparents
Written by: Mark Sakamoto
Narrated by: Geoff Sugiyama
Length: 7 hrs and 41 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (127 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

When the Second World War broke out, Ralph MacLean chose to escape his troubled life on the Magdalen Islands in eastern Canada and volunteer to serve his country overseas. Meanwhile, in Vancouver, Mitsue Sakamoto saw her family and her stable community torn apart after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Like many young Canadian soldiers, Ralph was captured by the Japanese army. He would spend the war in prison camps, enduring pestilence, beatings and starvation as well as a journey by hell ship to Japan to perform slave labor, while around him his friends and countrymen perished. Back in Canada, Mitsue and her family were expelled from their home by the government and forced to spend years eking out an existence in rural Alberta, working other people's land for a dollar a day.

By the end of the war, Ralph emerged broken but a survivor. Mitsue, worn down by years of backbreaking labour, had to start all over again in Medicine Hat, Alberta. A generation later, at a high school dance, Ralph's daughter and Mitsue's son fell in love.

Although the war toyed with Ralph's and Mitsue's lives and threatened to erase their humanity, these two brave individuals somehow surmounted enormous transgressions and learned to forgive. Without this forgiveness, their grandson Mark Sakamoto would never have come to be.

©2014 Mark Sakamoto (P)2018 Audible, Inc.

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Canada picked wrong

I really wanted to like this book after all of the positive reviews and its winning of Canada Reads, BUT i just couldn't , so much back story for mitz and Ralph, then halfway through the book they just vanish and new completely unrelated story starts about their kids becoming alcoholics in an abusive relationship. It was like the author wrote 2 different books and didn't want to get two books published so pretended through a distant family relation that the book was one continuous story Both parts of the story were interesting at times and it is an important topic but the book as a whole is just not a winner for me. I had to re read the middle chapter like 3 times to see what i missed when the story just completely changed.

American War and The Boat people were both 100 times better in all aspects, disappointed with this choice by Canada Reads

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Decent!

the narration was a bit fry, so it was a struggle to get into. the main part of the book was captivating and amazing. I enjoyed it so much! the end chunk was a little slow and drawn out. Over all, I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to others.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A very deserving winner!

I loved this book. So proud of CBC for selecting this for the Canada Reads award

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Forgiveness took my breath away

The stunning coming together of a number of different but parallel storylines threw open an array of emotions during the reading of this fascinating book. The writing was outstanding, worthy of the out loud gasps that for me, signal a great book. I’m a middle-aged Canadian and did not have any knowledge of the depth of injustices that befell both Canadian-born Japanese citizens or Japanese-held Canadian prisoners of war during WWII. Sakamoto did justice to both of these tragic histories as well as the recurring theme of forgiveness, brought “home” in the telling of his heart-wrenching loss of his mother. We all have much to learn about forgiveness. This book teaches us that and so much more about unconditional love, which begets respect, which then begets hope that all can be forgiven. Thank-you Michael Sakamotofor an amazing and memorable book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A Canadian Story

I really enjoyed this wartime story and the ability of Mark's grandparents to forgive the atrocities they experienced at the hands of the Canadian and Japanese governments. A must read in this era of reconciliation.

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Two stories in one

This is really two stories. The first being the story of two sides of war and discrimination. The second story is dealing with an alcoholic parent. It’s also about the unspeakable things humans do to one another. This is what ties the two together.
I enjoyed this book but it’s too sad for a second reading.

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I LOVED THIS BOOK.

I WOULD RECOMMEND THIS BOOK TO EVERYONE I KNOW. AND LISTENING TO IT MAKES EVERYTHING EASIER.

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A GIFT FOR EVERYONE

Canada Reads 2018 pick. From the moment I heard Jeannie Becker talk about this book I knew I would love it. I was not wrong. Mark Sakamoto has touched on so much in the human experience and this book will have a lasting impression on me forever. It evokes of history lessons not often told in the classrooms and anyone from western Canada will find themselves lost in the memories. Great material and one of my favourite books of all time.

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Sweet story

I chose this one based on the Canada Reads suggestion, though I didn't think that I'd like it as much as I did. I'd thought that it would be vulgar comparison between the Canadian POWs from Hong Kong and the Japanese internments in Canada or a rehashing of Obasan, but it was a much more complex and nuanced story than I thought it would be. The characters were great and the story was naturalistic in the sense that clear narrative arches are hard to impose on real people who don't always live linear stories, but Sakamoto pulls this off without forcing a narrative.

Sugiyama's voice is good for this particular story, because he has a "this-is-how-it-happened" tone to the story that respects the material as memoir rather than fiction.

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I loved it.!

my heart is so full after this beautiful memoir to Sakamoto's grandparents. good pick, Canada reads!!!

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  • M. D. Baines
  • 2018-04-24

Admirable progenitors

Mark Sakamoto certainly had some strong-willed family members of inspiring and forceful character. He also had some family members who struggled greatly. It's fitting that the lesson Mark gleaned from all their stories of one of forgiveness.