By Mo Cranker on March 26, 2018.
Long time Medicine Hatter Mark Sakamoto is enjoying his time in the national spotlight.
Early last month, Sakamoto’s book Forgiveness was named as a finalist in CBC’s Canada Reads program, and made the shortlist early this month as one of the final five books in the competition.
“It was a really sweet moment for me to make the final five,” said Sakamoto. “I understood the impact of the attention that the Canada Reads books get, but experiencing it is something else, for sure.
“Being able to just tell the stories of my grandparents, now to so many people, is just such a blessing for me — I really am thankful and enjoying every minute of it.”
Sakamoto’s book, which chronicles the lives of both sets of his grandparents during the Second World War, will be facing off against four other books, with debates starting today. Each book has a celebrity panelist who will defend it, with one finalist winning after four days of debate.
“I got really lucky with my panelist,” said Sakamoto. “I’ll have Jeanne Beker, and she’s just terrific. I know she’s a supporter of the book, so I don’t think she’ll have any troubles on TV.”
“Once I read the book, it really resonated with me,” Beker told the News. “There was so much in the book that I can relate to. My parents were of the same generation, that Mark’s grandparents were.
“My parents lived through the war, just under different circumstances. My parents were eastern European Jews who survived the Holocaust. They raised me just like Mark’s grandparents raised their children — to have an open heart, and to have a profound sense of forgiveness in order to move forward.”
The books will be up for debate until Thursday, with all five centering around the theme: One Book to Open Your Eyes. Beker says she has a close connection with Forgiveness.
“I had been offered books by CBC in the past, but this is the first one that I really felt a deep connection to,” said Beker. “We don’t get to offer ourselves for a book, CBC offers us books and we have to decided if it’s right or not.
“I think this is just such an important message for everyone, for my children, the nation and the whole world. This is just such an important lesson for us to learn, and something that we can never forget.”
While Sakamoto says he is hoping his book can win, he is just trying to soak everything in.
“It’s been really amazing, the whole ride,” he said. “Seeing Medicine Hat get behind the book has been really cool, and humbling for me. I’ve had so many people send me messages and Tweets showing support for the book — it means a lot.
“I know my dad is having trouble going anywhere in Medicine Hat without a couple people saying something about Canada Reads.”
To see more about the four other books Forgiveness will be facing off against go to, http://www.cbc.ca/books/canadareads
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