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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 (181 ratings)
Price: CDN$ 26.81
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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

13 of 14 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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Wow

I can see why this won Canada Reads. What I thought was going to be a story about two sets of grandparents experiencing WWII from two very different circumstances wound up being so much more. I think this should be read very broadly, by Canadians mostly, but really anyone who wants to hear a touching, powerful story about three generations of families who have helped to build a great nation into what it is now (worts and all). Highly recommended!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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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.

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

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Compelling

Great story, well told. A good Canadian history lesson. A very worthy winner of Canada Reads.

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Loved the vivid discriptions and raw emotion.

Such a moving and inspiring story through the beautiful way the author describes things. The narrator did a fabulous job and drew me into the story from beginning to the end.

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Deeply Touching

I was deeply touched by this most sincere and transparent narrative of human experience- complete with its distinctly Canadian perspective. I was completely drawn in by the heights and depths of emotions that colour the backdrop of a story that combined two cultural worlds so deftly and with such grace. Mark has written one of the best memoirs I have ever read and I personally want to thank him for recording it in print for us all to enjoy.

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Awesome story of forgiveness!

Hard to believe that these things GS happened here in Canada. this is an amazing story of forgiveness.

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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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  • 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.