Forgiveness by Mark Sakamoto

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Sakamoto’s account of his maternal grandfather and paternal grandmother is compelling reading. Both experienced the effects of World War 2 – his grandfather in a Japanese POW camp and his grandmother the hardships of BC’s forced relocation of its Japanese residents and citizens. We get a detailed look at their upbringing and lives, giving us tremendous insight into the times and character of these people, which is thoroughly engaging.

The book changes after the first half when the author begins his own story, particularly when he focuses on his mother’s journey into alcoholism and poverty, but it still leaves a deep impression on the reader. Instead of dealing with the theme ‘forgiveness’ between two people, in fact two families, with powerful reasons to hate each other, the subject is briefly glossed over. You’re left to assume they nobly put the past behind them when their children marry but are barely mentioned in the second half. Sakamoto is definitely not a great writer, some of his historical facts are incorrect, and the book feels disjointed, but I still recommend it as worth reading. It won the CBC’s Canada Reads in 2018 which says more for its champion, Jeanne Beker, than the book itself, but again, its content holds a strong message for us all. (Submitted by Pippa)

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Elephant Company: The Inspiring Story of An Unlikely Hero and the Animals Who Helped Him Save Lives in World War II

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This book is one of the best non-fiction books I have ever read.  Giving insight into the beauty, intelligence, and strength of Indian elephants. Even though jungle life in Burma could be dangerous, there were so many descriptions of joy and beauty that were completely transfixing. The dedication that the uzis and the elephant masters gave to the elephants is awe-inspiring. An easy read, that takes you far away, and yet still so close to home. Humanity and the animal world intertwined, doing good, and fighting evil. Loved it! (Submitted by Jamie)

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Midnight Light: A Personal Journey to the North by Dave Bidini

midnight lightDave Bidini’s, Midnight Light, is a fun, offbeat, journey through Yellowknife and the surrounding area. Bidini had been at a bit of a cross roads in his writing career, looking for the topic for his next book while watching his newspaper work shrink as the industry as a whole struggled. In the midst of this, he took a short term gig with the Yellowknifer, Yellow Knife’s main paper. The resulting book is part travelogue, part ode to the newspaper industry, and part a series of vignettes featuring a cast of characters. The main through line for the book is formed by John McFadden, a Yellowknifer reporter who made national news after developing a difficult relationship with the local RCMP. This culminated in a trial for obstruction of justice. Midnight Light is a great read for fans of Canadiana, travel writing, and left me plotting a route north to see Yellowknife for myself. (Submitted by Shawn)

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Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

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Adult Biography

Hope wants to be a scientist, a field that makes it hard for women to do so. She succeeds despite overwhelming odds and becomes a biologist with her own lab. Her voice is quirky, witty and acerbic. (Submitted by Sharleen)

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Sex and the City and Us by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

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Meanwhile across town, I finished reading Jennifer Keishin Armstrong’s book “Sex and the City and Us” and I couldn’t help but wonder, was I a Miranda or a Charlotte? If you’re a fan of this HBO show from the late 90s – early 2000s, then this read will definitely appeal to you.  Subtitled “How Four Single Women Changed the Way We Think, Live, and Love,” this book is an examination of the cultural impact that the show had on the world as we know it: from feminism to being single to finding love in your friendships.

The book turned out to be a fun read! It wasn’t as academic as it is made out to sound. In fact, it’s more of a behind-the-scenes look at the show, how it started, how the people behind it used stories from their own lives to help shape the stories being told, etc. I thought I knew everything about the show, but this book taught me so much more. For instance, I didn’t know that Sarah Jessica Parker was reluctant to do the program since she was more of a movie actress and wasn’t interested in pursuing television. This was all before what is now considered the new golden age of television. In fact, Sex and the City may have been at the onset of that resurgence, having given HBO a major hit show that would bring the network to the forefront of the movement with other series such as The Sopranos and Game of Thrones.

At the end of the day, if you’re a fan of Sex and the City and if you’re wondering whether you should pick up this book or not, my answer to you would be: “Abso-frickin’-lutely.” (Submitted by Alan)

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Tranny: Confessions of Punk Rock’s Most Infamous Anarchist Sellout by Laura Jane Grace

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I’ve read a few biographies by or about musicians but this one was the most passionate, honest, but brutal in its way, so far. The title pretty much says it all; Laura Jane Grace started life as Tom Gabel, became involved in the punk music scene as a teenager and eventually fronted a punk band called Against Me! What I learned in between those 3 points is the struggle someone goes through when they feel like they aren’t who they are supposed to be and how self-destructive that feeling can make you all the while trying to live, work, create music, and to love. Reading about what Tom did to himself was tough, but I’ve never been close to anyone who has struggled with their identity like this, but it all felt very honest and upfront and I wanted to know how Laura Jane made it work. The book touched on her new life but I’m hoping she has the courage to tell us more in the future. (Submitted by Renee)

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The Colonial Problem: An Indigenous Perspective on Crime and Injustice in Canada by Lisa Monchalin

colonial-problemI dare say this single book gave me more information and knowledge about Canadian Indigenous People than half a dozen of history textbooks that I came across while in high school, college, and university – combined. Technically, this book is a textbook. But, in reality, it reads so well and it is so interesting, that I, personally, don’t view it as a dry academic material. I purely enjoyed it. It enriched my knowledge and opened up my eyes to many things I often overlooked. Also, the author does an excellent job inviting a reader to be included in the conversation and this inclusion creates a special bond that enables you to better understand the culture and people you are reading about. By the way, Lisa Monchalin is an international speaker and advocate who brings light to various Indigenous matters that were and, sometimes still are, misunderstood or misrepresented. Doctor Monchalin is the first Indigenous woman in Canada to hold a PhD degree in Criminology. (Submitted by Mariya)

Would you like to meet Lisa Monchalin in person and hear her speak about the book she wrote? Well, you are in luck! You get a chance to do so on Wednesday, September 26, 2018; 6:30 pm-8:30 pm at the Guildford Library in Surrey, BC. Event is FREE; registration is required. Call 604-598-7366 to register.