Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet: The international bestseller and word-of-mouth sensation
About this deal
An excellent book, and if you want to perhaps venture away from novels set in England during the Second World War period, then start with this book you will not be disappointed.
It is the story of their friendship/love, and also that of the other relationships that the boy has: his Chinese parents, a local black jazz musician, and later with his own son and son's fiance.Ford skillfully melds a Chinese boy's experiences in 1940s Seattle, the reprehensible internment of Japanese during WWII, and a love story. Not some weird aggregated bit of web-content, just little ol’ me, the author, sitting here in my favorite Batman pajamas (yes, I have several pairs) writing this note in my cozy home office, dog at my feet. There was one more topic covered in great detail here and that was the placing of Japanese families from the west coast in camps.
What this book does is show a piece of social history that I knew nothing about, and I am ashamed to say that. This was a love story with a few historical facts thrown in to keep you interested but not the read I thought it would be. I thought Henry was far too sophisticated in his thinking for a 12 year old boy but this was the only quibble I had with the whole book.Henry’s father is terrified that someone will mistake him for a a Japanese boy – America is at war and the Japanese are the enemy, even those that were born in America. I found the relationship between Henry and Keiko difficult to accept as these were children 12 years old the relationship and emotions are way too advanced for children of this age and I feel that for me this is where the author got it badly wrong.
This hotel has been boarded up for years but a new owner has discovered something inside - the belongings of Japanese families.
At the beginning of the book it opens with Henry having lost his wife Ethel to cancer, it has only been six months and he still misses her, he happens to walk past the Panama Hotel and notices that objects are being taken out of the basement, one of which is an umbrella with koi fish painted on it, this brings back memories… I do not want to give any more of the plot away. But the parents and their children often clash as the older generation clings to the ways of the old country and their children adapt to the ways of the new country.
Camps were set up with barbed wire that were meant to protect the people within from those who wanted to hurt them. It’s in no way soppy or sentimental, yet it is a true love story, but also a story that will haunt the reader. Some 40,000 Japanese families requested placement in camps where they had free food and many other benefits while other Americans had rationing. Then the bill is signed that sent thousands of Japanese from the west coast, in this case Seattle, to internment camps, many in Colorado. This is the story of Henry, an American born Chinese American and his family, including his dogmatic and anti-Japanese father.How could they sit back and do nothing when this many people were being taken away – when they could be next?