The heart-rending true story of two families on either side of the Second World War-and a moving tribute to the nature of forgivenessWhen 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 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 hou...
|Number of Pages||:||272 pages|
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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 ...more
3 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 share ...more
For a book only 200 and some pages long, this was one of the most thoughtful and genuine novels I have ever read. Mark Sakamoto parallels the stories of his grandparents in the 1940s; his Canadian maternal Grandfather who was captured as a POW and sent to Japan and paternal Japanese-Canadian Grandmother whose family was unjustly forced out of their Vancouver community and into the prairies along with thousands of others Japanese Canadians.
Sakamoto's stories provides three perspectives that he in ...more
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 ...more
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, ...more
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.
The backbone of this memoir is the alternating stories of Mark Sakamoto's grandparents. On his mother's side, his grandfather, Frank, was a young Canadian soldier who miraculously survived years in prisoner camps in Japan. On his father's side, his grandmother, Mitsue, and her family were forced out of their urban Vancouver homes by a racist government and moved to rural Alberta to work as farm laborers in deplorable conditions.
The true heart of this story is not the tragedies endured, but the ...more
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