Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Book - 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.
Publisher: New York : Ballantine Books, 2009.
ISBN: 9780345505330
Branch Call Number: FIC FORD


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Jul 31, 2017

A beautifully and sensitively written story

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.

Aug 03, 2016

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

Aug 03, 2016

Nicely written historical fiction with great character development.

Aug 03, 2016

Absolutely loved this!

Aug 01, 2016

Such a sweet and tender story of the bittersweet friendship between a young Chinese boy and the Japanese girl who were friends during World War II when Japanese were rounded up and removed to "prison" camps. It's multi-generational as it the book follows these two through adulthood.

Jul 27, 2016

A great tale of historical fiction, Ford presents events in America during World War II through a touching story. It speaks of a Chinese boy, Henry Lee, who has befriended a Japanese girl, Keiko Okabe. Conflicts arise that start separating the two, with the US’s alliance with China and confliction with Japan. The book is set in two time periods set 40 years apart, where Henry is reminded of his past by a Japanese parasol of the Panama Hotel. The book has a beautiful, if historically crude, plot that beseeches citizens to think about the country’s past and learn from what has happened. Although the story is extraordinary, well developed, and very touching, there is a presence of inaccuracies and anachronisms in the story’s setting and information. The implied universality of the Internet in 1986, or the level of maturity that the two twelve-year olds demonstrate, especially the actions that Henry takes just to see Keiko, are examples of this. Rated 4/5 for a brilliant, emotional, and eye-opening historical book that, as its title suggests, tells its tale with a bittersweet melancholy throughout the book.
- @interneuron of the Teen Review Board at the Hamilton Public Library

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Oct 23, 2016

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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.

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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Oct 23, 2016

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

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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