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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What an incredibly interesting and thought provoking book.
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