Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

A Novel

eBook - 2009
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BONUS: This edition contains a Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet discussion guide and an excerpt from Jamie Ford's Songs of Willow Frost. "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.
Publisher: 2009
ISBN: 9780345512505
Characteristics: 1 online resource

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bookpusher
Jul 08, 2019

Sweet book! Absolutely loved this story....<3 Favourite book so far this year

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sgcf
May 02, 2019

I had known of the Japanese internment camps during WW2 but this book helped to make it real and gave me insight. It’s an old-fashioned love story à la Romeo and Juliet, rather sentimentally told and sugar coated. I appreciated the theme about “home” – what is it? where is it? how we can never go back to that remembered sense of home. But while the content is admirable and interesting for its authenticity, Ford’s writing style is simplistic and repetitive, as if he wants to make sure we "get it." I’m a stickler for good writing. I’m glad I read it but not sure I’d recommend it.
A quote I liked: ”I try not to live in the past, but the past lives in me.”

a
Anita_Dickey
Feb 26, 2019

i read this book to fulfil the goal read a book that contains the worlds salty, sweet, bitter or spicy in the title. It was a bit slow going at first, but i enjoyed it at the end. it is a fiction work, but contains some true elements.

r
RebelBelle13
Dec 10, 2018

DNF @ 45%. I almost made it the whole year without DNFing (Did-not-finish) a book. I decided that rather than slog through this story (which I believe has a rather predictable ending) I would call it quits, put it down and move on to something else I actually enjoyed. I couldn't bring myself to give this book a 1 star, even though I didn't finish it- because it's not TERRIBLE. It's just boring, repetitive and trying way too hard to be something that it's not. This story would have been fabulous as a novella or as part of a short story compilation. It feels too long and bloated for its own good, to be very honest. The emotions and feelings are there, but as the novel drags on and the same scenes are replayed over and over, it seems like the author is playing the same notes expecting the same responses. Yes, this child is bullied for being of Asian descent. His friend gets taken away to an internment camp because she's Japanese. The war is going on and there are foods being rationed, and fear is everywhere. This is all too true, and harsh, and accurate, but would have certainly been more poignant and powerful as a chord played once, rather than a child mangling a piano for five minutes.

IndyPL_SteveB Nov 26, 2018

This is a moving novel of American history, racial divides, and family.

In 1986, widower Henry Lee is standing in front of an abandoned Seattle hotel, when the new owner brings out a Japanese parasol, left behind from World War II. His memories flash back to 1942, when he was the only Chinese-American student in the white middle school and his best friend was Keiko, the only Japanese-American girl at that school. As Ford spins out his tale, Henry for the first time tells his son of his own family conflicts with his conservative father over his friendship with Keiko.

You will see World War II from an entirely different perspective than you have ever imagined it before. Of course the Japanese families were hated because of the war and were soon placed into what were essentially prison camps. But the Chinese families had nearly as much prejudice against them as Asians, even though the Chinese were our allies against the Japanese. Ford does an excellent job of portraying the complexities of these relationships and of the mixed emotions of sorrow and happiness.

It is the story of friendship, love, and relationships as told by a 50+ year old second-generation Chinese-American. This wonderful piece of historical fiction seamlessly flows between the 1940’s and 1986, as it delves into the effects, and the aftermath, of the Japanese internment in the Seattle area. Ford does an exceptional job of exploring the history and attitudes of the time, with unique insight into the generational and racial views surrounding the attack on Pearl Harbour, and the consequences of being a minority in a very American setting. Whether you are a sucker for great historical fiction, want a quick cultural history lesson, or one of those that remember the rollercoaster that is first love, book a room at the Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet and stay a while! (submitted by JF)

s
scribby
Jul 27, 2018

Heartbreaking (though heartwarming by the end) and relevant in today’s political climate. Also, great descriptions of local Seattle areas during different historical periods.

ArapahoeMarieC Jul 26, 2018

I loved this book! I have never read a book about plight of Japanese-American internees and Chinese-Americans during WWII and found this book engrossing!

a
ArapahoeLib_Marie
Jul 17, 2018

I loved this book! I have never read a book about plight of Japanese-American internees and Chinese-Americans during WWII and found this book engrossing!

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firefly5
Jan 28, 2018

I loved this book, wonderful story. The author describes his characters and places so well I was able to 'see' them clearly! War has such devastating effects on so many people in so many different ways. Man's inhumanity to man! I have known many Canadians of Japanese decent who were treated as the enemy, as well as Canadians of other nationalities, mistreated because of their heritage and not accepted for who they are. History keeps repeating itself!

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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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Dec 18, 2013

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hlsadler
Jun 19, 2012

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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

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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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