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3.99  ·  Rating details ·  4,001 ratings  ·  547 reviews
The heart-rending true story of two families on either side of the Second World War-and a moving tribute to the nature of forgiveness

When the Second World War broke out, Ralph MacLean traded his quiet yet troubled life on the Magdalene Islands in eastern Canada for the ravages of war overseas. On the other side of the country, Mitsue Sakamoto and her family felt their plea
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published June 3rd 2014 by HarperCollins Publishers
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Shirin Fa I think it means tea box.it refer to a box that they put in all their belongings and memories

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Average rating 3.99  · 
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 ·  4,001 ratings  ·  547 reviews

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Elyse Walters
Mar 10, 2022 rated it it was amazing
“My grandparents bore witness to the worst in humanity. Yet they also managed to illuminate the finest in humanity. Their hearts were my home. I saw none of the ugliness they had. I felt none of their bitterness”.

A beautiful & tragic true story ..
The strength of this book is FORGIVENESS!!

“Life happens one decision at a time. You have no idea where each will take you. Maybe it is fake. Maybe it is God‘s will. Maybe everything does happen for a reason. All I know is that you have to find a reas
Edward Fenner
Whoever edited this book deserves a demotion or a dismissal. The prose style is mostly fine and often quite wonderful but it is also quite inconsistent with some very abrupt and oddly-placed sentences. And it reads a bit rough in places. I did enjoy Sakamoto's attention to detail in the WWII-era stories. I cared for those people and felt for them. There were many injustices all around but I felt there were far too many leaps and gaps in the narrative. The vignettes were fine but their arrangemen ...more
Apr 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 5000-2019, apr-19
Forgiveness, by Mark Sakamoto, is a true story that needed to be told. Based on the lives of his grandparents, surrounding WWII, this book details both sides of the war. It taught me about Canada's unforgivable treatment of Japanese Canadians that I had no idea about as well as the all too often account of being captured by the Japanese as a POW.
I found the writing of this debut novel to be simplistic.
A very sad yet very important story!
❀ Susan G
Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing

One of the many wonderful things about Canada Reads is that it encourages Canadian’s to read books… books that you might not normally come across, books that make us think, books that we can debate and books that change us! As my followers know, I love Canada Reads! Attending the 2017 Canada Reads finale was one of my book highlights of the year.

The theme for the 2018 Canada Reads is: One Book to Open Your Eyes and the Canada Reads 2018 long list of 15 boo
FORGIVENESS: A Gift from My Grandparents by Mark Sakamoto is the heart-rending true story of two people on either side of the war and a moving tribute to the nature of forgiveness. This book is the winner of the Canada Reads Prize in the year 2018!

Mark 11:25 "And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. "

"A relatable journey of real-life ups and downs-humble reminders throughout, to be more kind and forgiv
Feb 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
In Forgiveness, Mark Sakamoto tells the story of his maternal grandfather, Ralph MacLean, who had spent a number of years clinging to life as a POW in a Japanese prison camp during the second World War and his paternal grandmother, Mitsu Sakamoto, who had been forced from her home and province following the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces.

The details surrounding Ralph’s imprisonment were harrowing to say the least. I found myself having to put the book down multiple times as the descr
Mar 16, 2021 rated it really liked it
How timely that just as I am asking my Sec 4&5 English class to write articles on the theme of "forgiveness", I reached for this book.

Imagine that your paternal grandparents are two of the thousands of Japanese Canadians interred by the Canadian government during WWII. Imagine that your maternal grandfather is a Canadian POW imprisoned by the Japanese. How do you reconcile all those parts of your family story? Especially when your grandparents have born witness to the worst in humanity. For Mar
Barth Siemens
Michael Ignatieff called this book "part memoir, part saga." While the first part of the book taught me a little more about Japanese-Canadian family life in the mid-20th centure, I look for more story in my saga. I instead it comprised a decently written biography.

I didn't perceive that the latter part of the book added much to the overall work. I look for more reflection in a memoir.

I chose this book because it was listed on the Canada Reads longlist. I hope it does not make the shortlist.
Forgiveness is not a transaction. It is not an exchange. Forgiveness has nothing to do with the past. p237

This book is part investigative journalism but also an act of devotion to the authors family. Ralph McLean, a Canadian, and Mitsue Sakamoto, also Canadian, both endured world war II as prisoners on opposite sides of the world. Ralph, the authors maternal grandfather, a soldier from the Magdalen Islands, spent over 3 years as a prisoner of the Japanese in Hong Kong. His paternal grandmother,
Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
How very Canadian! I am always fascinated with the Canada Reads competition. This year was no exception. The theme was “One book to open your eyes”, and I was intrigued how both fiction and non fiction could be pitted against one another for the grand title. This book was the winner... and what a fine choice.
The author is quite a talented storyteller yet the story is true. While the plot is forgiveness the story spans three generations of Canadians. It starts during or shortly before World War
Carolyn Walsh
Jul 09, 2018 rated it liked it
This is the recent winner of the CBC’s Canada Reads award. It is an unique family story but am reluctantly giving the book 3 stars. It was narrated in a manner which failed often to convey to me the emotions I should be feeling. The two WW2 stories which occurred separately on both sides of the globe involving the author’s grandparents were masterfully and sympathetically told. The book needed better editing. There were geographic and historical errors.

The theme of forgiveness was interwoven i
Mar 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: canadian
Every March in Canada we have this odd competition, Canada Reads. It began in 2002 and features five panelists arguing over five books over four days vying to be the worthy book. Each year there is a theme and this year it was the “book to open your eyes.” Yes with all that snow (it’s been a long winter) Canadians are drawn together by a “book fight.” The panelists are varied, including a tornado hunter, a fashion journalist, a singer, an actor and a TV host. And the books are quite varied as we ...more
Jun 21, 2014 rated it liked it
All in all a good book, especially for a debut novel. My rating of a three stems from my desire for the book to have delved farther into the process of forgiveness between the author's maternal grandfather and paternal grandmother. Sakamoto does a great job in the first 3/4 of the book describing the experiences of both these grandparents - one as a POW prisoner and one as a displaced Japanese Canadian. What happened to these individuals after these experiences? Did the POW grandfather suffer fr ...more
Allison ༻hikes the bookwoods༺
I found this book a slow read until the last few chapters when the story moves into the author’s own life instead of his grandparents’ stories. Although his grandparents endured incredible hardships, the writing fell flat. It wasn’t until Sakamoto started talking about himself that I felt emotions coming through the words.
Mar 13, 2016 rated it liked it
(3.5) Quite a book-worthy family tree!

I enjoyed reading Mark's narratives of his grandparents and parents. I learned a lot about how Japanese were treated in Canada during World War II (particularly in British Columbia). How awful this was, but how it was crucial to Mark ever coming into existence. The lives that his families lived were certainly eventful and worthy of being written down. The narrative is largely engaging, but could be a little more literary and definitely could benefit from mor
Mark Sakamoto’s grandparents were on two different sides of WWII. His maternal grandfather fought in the war and was captured and spent years as a prisoner of war, first in Hong Kong, then in Japan. Mark’s paternal grandmother, a Japanese-Canadian, and her family lost their home and livelihood in BC and were sent to rural Alberta to farm. Mark and his brother were born and raised in Medicine Hat, Alberta. After Mark’s parents marriage ended, his mother had a really hard time (to put it lightly, ...more
Jun 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Mark Sakamoto had a very worthy and important story to tell. The stories of his maternal grandfather, Ralph Maclean, and his paternal grandmother, Mitsue Sakamoto, are both fascinating. During World War Two, Ralph was taken prisoner of war by the Japanese and endured terrible suffering for four years, being brutalized, starved, and isolated by his captors. In Canada, Mitsue and her family were interned and then force evacuated to farms on the prairies where they too endured harsh conditions and ...more
Apr 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was the winner of the 2018 Canada Reads debates, and what a worthy winner!

Sakamoto tells 3 interwoven stories in this memoir of love and forgiveness: his maternal Grandfather who suffered terribly as a Japanese POW during WWII; his paternal Grandmother, a Canadian-born Japanese women who lost everything during the interment of Japanese citizens during WWII; and his own relationship with his alcoholic mother during his childhood and teens. The writing is exquisite and the stories are fu
Feb 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best books I have ever read. The stunning and at times horrific story is written in a real and impactful style.

Favourite part: The pacing of the book was fantastic. The reader experiences a buildup to what seems to be the climax, and then a slight reprieve before building up again to the final climax and denouement.

Least favourite part: Honestly not much. The authors part of the story following the climax seemed at times a bit rushed. He could have expanded more upon his personal expe
Mar 20, 2018 rated it it was ok
Author lost me when he got the date of the atomic bomb drop wrong.....
Julia O'Hanley
Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Put it down for a little while but SOOOO glad I picked it back up. If I had to guess, this might be my #1 pick of 2018. So amazingly brilliant and beautiful.
3 ½ stars. A moving and informative memoir about family members involved in WW11 - how Canadians of Japanese descent fared “at home” and how Canadians fared abroad as soldiers at war in Japan and in POW camps. Sakamoto has paid wonderful tribute to his grandparents (paternal and maternal) by sharing their stories.
Found it touching, eye-opening and inspirational - an excellent way of honouring his grandparents by the author. Even more important, was that Sakamoto kept their stories alive and shar
Carolyn Klassen
I did enjoy this memoir. Especially the parts about his paternal grandmother and the injustices of the Canadian and provincial BC government against her family and many other Japanese and Japanese-Canadian families. Not just the internment though that was horrific and unjust, but also the micro-aggressions of every day Canadians who would avoid Japanese owned businesses and who committed arson and theft to defile Japanese families' most prized possessions. The daily grind of racism in Canada tha ...more
Kathleen Nightingale
Jun 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Forgiveness by Mark Sakamoto won the Canada Reads award for 2018. Jeanne Beker defended this book to the end and it was an outstanding win. I was drawn to the story line and couldn't wait to read the book. I was certainly not disappointed. I learned more about the Second World War and how Japanese took POW and how Canada dealth with Japanese Canadian's and internment. It is so unfortunate when man evokes harm in the most cruel and inhumane way toward other men and women in society.

This book is a
Nadine Hiemstra
Really interesting way to hear from two different sides of the war. I really appreciated the opportunity to learn and hear the stories of people whose experiences could have easily been lost to time. The writing wasn’t as engaging as I would have liked, but I thought it was a decent overview of a family’s experiences across generations.
"My grandparents bore witness to the worst in humanity. Yet they also managed to illuminate the finest in humanity."
A tale of 3 interwoven family stories that share the complex & difficult experience of each core player (the author, his maternal Scottish Canadian grandfather & his paternal Japanese grandmother) experienced in their pivotal twenties. The book challenges the reader to explore your own capacity for forgiveness, examine your own Canadian family story (big gaps in my own that I've be
Heard about this book from the 2018 Canada Reads shortlist. Bought a copy and loved it. Most of the book tells the story of the author's grandparents - a grandmother that suffered through the discrimination of being a Japanese descendant living in Canada when we treated the Japanese people horribly and a grandfather that suffered the horrors of being a Canada solider captured by the Japanese. Both could have grown up bitter against the other's people group, but they chose to forgive and live fre ...more
Nancy Gillies
Apr 03, 2019 rated it liked it
I may need to ask for forgiveness for my tepid response to Mark Sakamoto's book of the same name, given the accolades and attention it received as winner of the 2018 version of Canada Reads. There is no doubt that Sakamoto has a story worth telling, but, regrettably, he isn't a particularly gifted writer. Nevertheless, there were some praiseworthy aspects of the book. Sakamoto effectively illustrated the remarkable resiliency and will to survive in the face of horrific circumstances shown by bot ...more
May 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club-pick
3.5 stars!

When I first starting reading I was like, great another war book, but then it quickly morphed into so much more. I was interested enough to continue reading, finding the dual stories fascinating. Obviously this was not a plot driven story so at times it undoubtably lagged, but still it was good. Such a unique perspective on a dark time in our Canadian history and definitely worth reading to better understand such events.
Ian Josh
Jul 05, 2018 rated it liked it
The war parts were interesting and created a really compelling parallel... but the ending should have been the forgiveness that created the author that created the book, but instead...

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MARK SAKAMOTO, a lawyer by training, has enjoyed a rich and varied career. He began his professional career in live music, working with several international acts. He has worked at a national law firm, a national broadcaster and has served as a senior political advisor to a national party leader. He is an entrepreneur and investor in digital health, digital media and real estate. He sits on the Bo ...more

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“But I realized now that forgiveness is not a transaction. It is not an exchange. Forgiveness has nothing to do with the past.” 3 likes
“Breaking down is the easy part. Anyone, at any time, can break down. The act of coming together again is what makes a hero. Moving on, with an open heart, seems, at times, impossible. But it’s not.” 3 likes
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