Book Details

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Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction

OLA Evergreen Award

Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-fiction - Shortlisted

About the Book

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.

Educator and Librarian Resources

Critical Praise

“Poignantly elegant.” —Maclean’s

“Through stories of starvation and suffering, outright racism and imprisonment, Sakamoto offers a distinct and dark vantage point to Canadian history--one that does away with any geopolitical binaries of good and evil.” —The Globe and Mail

“Extraordinary and touching.” —Elle Canada

“It’s a violent world we live in, but Mark Sakamoto’s Forgiveness: A Gift From My Grandparents reminds us that things do change.” —National Post

“This book shares many examples of powerful life lessons that inspire us to embrace change as a gift from learning, and remind us that making peace with our past is possible if we hold on to what we’ve learned from our experiences.” —Shania Twain

“An unforgettable story about the power of forgiveness, set against one of the darkest periods in Canada’s history. Mark Sakamoto tells his family’s story with grace and at times brutal honesty. Painful and poignant, Forgiveness is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit.” —Mellissa Fung, author of Under an Afghan Sky

“This is an astonishing book . . . a funny, heartbreaking story of a family scarred by history’s pain and their own self-destructiveness, yet redeemed by stoic endurance and the capacity for forgiveness. You’re going to remember this book.” —Michael Ignatieff

“Mark Sakamoto’s family story shows how individuals—the author’s Canadian grandfather, a POW of the Japanese, and his Japanese-Canadian grandmother, sent to a work camp in Alberta—ultimately make their own history. This is a quintessential Canadian story, where family history is not forgotten but does not imprison its participants.” —Nathan M. Greenfield, author of The Damned

Product Details

  • ISBN: 9781443417976
  • ISBN 10: 1443417971
  • Imprint: HarperCollins Publishers
  • On Sale: 06/03/2014
  • Pages: 256
  • List Price: 29.99 CAD
  • BISAC1: BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Personal Memoirs

Forgiveness by Mark Sakamoto

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