Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Paperback - 2009
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"Sentimental, heartfelt....the exploration of Henry's changing relationship with his family and with Keiko will keep most readers turning pages...A timely debut that not only reminds readers of a shameful episode in American history, but cautions us to examine the present and take heed we don't repeat those injustices." -- Kirkus Reviews

"A tender and satisfying novel set in a time and a place lost forever, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet gives us a glimpse of the damage that is caused by war--not the sweeping damage of the battlefield, but the cold, cruel damage to the hearts and humanity of individual people. Especially relevant in today's world, this is a beautifully written book that will make you think. And, more importantly, it will make you feel ."
-- Garth Stein , New York Times bestselling author of The Art of Racing in the Rain

"Jamie Ford's first novel explores the age-old conflicts between father and son, the beauty and sadness of what happened to Japanese Americans in the Seattle area during World War II, and the depths and longing of deep-heart love. An impressive, bitter, and sweet debut."
-- Lisa See , bestselling author of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan


In the opening pages of Jamie Ford's stunning debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet , Henry Lee comes upon a crowd gathered outside the Panama Hotel, once the gateway to Seattle's Japantown. It has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has made an incredible discovery: the belongings of Japanese families, left when they were rounded up and sent to internment camps during World War II. As Henry looks on, the owner opens a Japanese parasol.

This simple act takes old Henry Lee back to the 1940s, at the height of the war, when young Henry's world is a jumble of confusion and excitement, and to his father, who is obsessed with the war in China and having Henry grow up American. While "scholarshipping" at the exclusive Rainier Elementary, where the white kids ignore him, Henry meets Keiko Okabe, a young Japanese American student. Amid the chaos of blackouts, curfews, and FBI raids, Henry and Keiko forge a bond of friendship-and innocent love-that transcends the long-standing prejudices of their Old World ancestors. And after Keiko and her family are swept up in the evacuations to the internment camps, she and Henry are left only with the hope that the war will end, and that their promise to each other will be kept.

Forty years later, Henry Lee is certain that the parasol belonged to Keiko. In the hotel's dark dusty basement he begins looking for signs of the Okabe family's belongings and for a long-lost object whose value he cannot begin to measure. Now a widower, Henry is still trying to find his voice-words that might explain the actions of his nationalistic father; words that might bridge the gap between him and his modern, Chinese American son; words that might help him confront the choices he made many years ago.

Set during one of the most conflicted and volatile times in American history, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is an extraordinary story of commitment and enduring hope. In Henry and Keiko, Jamie Ford has created an unforgettable duo whose story teaches us of the power of forgiveness and the human heart.


From the Hardcover edition.
Publisher: New York : Ballantine Books, ©2009
ISBN: 9780345505347
0345505344
Branch Call Number: FIC FORD
Characteristics: 290 pages : illustrations ; 20 cm

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4
4catsdogs
Dec 07, 2017

What a wonderful book. I don't normally read books about relationships, but this one was beautifully written and had me absorbed from the very first page.

d
dbedn
Nov 02, 2017

This is one of the best books I have ever read, and I have read hundreds.

s
spiderfelt_0
Oct 17, 2017

While my bookclub couldn't find much to say about this book, I thought it provided an important history lesson. Considering the prejudice and hostility that threatens the daily lives of so many people, this book continues to be relevant. It was particularly interesting as a Seattle resident, recognizing the places described. Let us never forget the injustice that was perpetrated against our fellow citizens.

r
rsoccer70
Sep 04, 2017

Honestly, if it wasn't for the fact that this is the "community read" for the high school at which I teach, I don't think I would have picked it up on my own. Although I feel the book starts too slowly, I was glad I pushed through to reach the more engaging aspects of the story. The narrative takes place during two time periods - the early part of WWII (about 1943) and Seattle of the late 1980's. The same character is the focus of both story threads - as a Chinese American pre-teen and then as a senior citizen. In the broadest way the story is about the internment of Japanese Americans and how this impacts the "first love" the main character has for a Japanese school-mate. This relationship strains the way the boy and his Chinese immigrant father interact while later in time this character and his own son struggle with their relationship in not dissimilar ways. This novel helped me to better understand the scope and impact of the dark example of nationalistic fear which led to putting American citizens in to what were essentially prison camps. I hope my students learned this as well and that we never, ever repeat this shameful event.

g
glotet
Jul 31, 2017

A beautifully and sensitively written story

p
pink_cat_738
Jun 07, 2017

Hotel on the corner of bitter and sweet is a great novel about World War Two and Japanese internment camps. I loved this book so much

Bazette Apr 24, 2017

I give this a 5 star! I couldn't put it down and had a good cry in the end. One of those books where you forget you are actually reading it and not living it. It gives a lot of insights into why there are ghettos and the discrimination against immigrants.

AL_WENDY Aug 29, 2016

The title says it all: a bittersweet love story that breaks your heart and puts it back together. Beautiful imagery and writing.

AL_TATYANA Aug 19, 2016

A good read! An eye opening story with a bittersweet melancholy touch throughout the book.

l
lyndseybarker10
Aug 03, 2016

The author really took you back to WWII and all the emotions it entailed.

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blue_dog_8329
Oct 23, 2016

blue_dog_8329 thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

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bandanana
Sep 05, 2015

bandanana thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

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eurydice_orpheus
Dec 18, 2013

eurydice_orpheus thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

orange_cat_2301 Aug 13, 2012

orange_cat_2301 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

blue_raven_28 Jun 26, 2012

blue_raven_28 thinks this title is suitable for 11 years and over

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hlsadler
Jun 19, 2012

hlsadler thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

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r
results
Jul 02, 2013

This is a beautifully written book showing both the pain and beauty of love, music & friendship among the challenges of assimilation, discrimination and war.

h
hlsadler
Jun 19, 2012

A young Chinese-American boy befriends a Japanese-American girl who is displaced into a Japanese-American Interment camp.

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blue_dog_8329
Oct 23, 2016

"Thank you and you have a fine day sir" -Sheldon and Henry

n
nic03red
Jan 23, 2011

The hardest choices in life aren't between what's right and what's wrong but between what's right and what's best.

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