Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Canada Reads Forgiveness

It is a lovely thing, it seems to me, that there is a contest called Canada Reads, even though I haven't followed it all that closely through the years because of work. Supposedly people don't read novels or non-fiction much these days yet Canada Reads reminds us that there are still avid readers in our country. Of course this is a boon to the authors, and intelligent but passionate debate is a tonic in a time of toxic taunts and arguments.

I just finished reading Forgiveness: A Gift from My Grandparents by Mark Sakamoto, one of the five CR books which will be under consideration. Sakamoto is the grandchild of a Canadian veteran of WW2 who was captured by the Japanese in Hong Kong and spent several horrific years in a prison camp. His paternal grandparents were Japanese Canadians who had a good life in British Columbia until the war but suddenly found themselves dislocated from their home and livelihood, living in virtual slavery on the Prairies. His veteran grandfather was from the Maritimes but married an Albertan and lived there. His Japanese Canadian grandparents eventually made their home in Alberta as well. Remarkably, the children of these two very different sets of grandparents, both deeply affected by a global conflict and suffering grave injustice, found each other.

As the name suggests, forgiveness is a key aspect of the lives of his grandparents and ultimately Mark Sakamoto's life experience. I was struck by how faith became important to his prisoner-of-war grandfather even though it hadn't been previously. The grim irony was that his Japanese Canadian grandparents were devout Christians but were betrayed by the supposedly Christian country which was there adoptive home. While they were in exile from their community in BC the building which was used as their church was burned to the ground by arsonists and all the treasured possessions left behind by residents were lost.

I found this book very readable and worthwhile. It really is a personal story and the discussion of forgiveness is not lengthy. Will it win Canada Reads? Who knows, but it is definitely a book which  will inform you and perhaps challenge you.

Do you follow Canada Reads? Will you read any of the titles for this year?

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