- File Size: 4281 KB
- Print Length: 306 pages
- Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1st edition (January 27, 2009)
- Publication Date: January 27, 2009
- Sold by: Random House LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B001NLL5AO
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,966 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet: A Novel Kindle Edition
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“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. This is a beautifully written book that will make you think. And, more important, it will make you feel.”—Garth Stein, bestselling author of The Art of Racing in the Rain
“Mesmerizing and evocative, a tale of conflicted loyalties and timeless devotion.”—Sara Gruen, bestselling author of Water for Elephants
“A wartime-era Chinese-Japanese variation on Romeo and Juliet . . . The period detail [is] so revealing and so well rendered.”—The Seattle Times
“A poignant story that transports the reader back in time . . . a satisfying and heart-wrenching tale.”—Deseret Morning News
“A lovely combination of romantic coincidence, historic detail and realism that is smooth and highly readable . . . Ford does wonderful work in re-creating prewar Seattle.”—The Oregonian
“Heartfelt . . . 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
“Ford’s story of an innocent passion across racial barriers—and of the life of a man who forsook the girl he loved—is told with an artistic technique that makes emotion inevitable.”—Louis B. Jones
“A beautiful and tender masterpiece . . . a book everyone will be talking about, and the best book you’ll read this year.”—Anne Frasier
“A heartwarming story of fathers and sons, first loves, fate, and the resilient human heart . . . marvelously evocative.”—Jim Tomlinson
From Publishers Weekly
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Henry's parents do not know at first that his best friend is Japanese, but when they finally learn of this, they turn their backs on him though they don't kick him out of the house. Thus begins a long, lonely period when Henry merely exists and lives in a silent household. When Keiko's family is sent off to the camps, Henry is shocked and saddened, but vows to never forget her. He somehow scrapes together enough money to get on a bus and ride all the way to Idaho to see her. They vow to write to each other, but the letters over the 2+ years that she is in the camp are sporadic and his final letter is returned, marked addressee unknown.
Years later in 1986, Henry becomes aware of the possessions from some of the Japanese families, stored in a nearby old boarded up hotel. This opens up the memories from the 1940's and begins a search for the truth of what happened in the 1940's. There are many bitter, sweet and poignant memories and scenes in this story.
The novel struck a chord with me because I have visited Manzanar and have known people who had been held in the camps. It's important to remember and read about these stories. Too many people aren't even aware of the tragedy of the incarceration of so many innocent citizens during the war.
In the world of the US today with rampant racism and hatred, this beautifully written story is a wonderful reminder to all of us to learn from the past and fight those who want us to return to those troubled times where prejudice, intolerance and injustice ran rampant against an innocent group of people. I highly recommend this very moving story.
But this is no polemic, not a critical commentary about the Japanese internment nor a political treatise on the nature of prejudice, which may be even more relevant in today’s world. While these themes pervade, they are woven into the background so as not to interfere with the story.
The author draws the reader into the lives of the two young people, who can fathom neither the cultural tensions around them nor the swirling politics. We care about them, we weep for them, as circumstances beyond their control tear them apart.
As a side benefit, this book gives insight into one of the darker episodes in our history, when fear reigned over reason, but at its essence, it’s a beautifully told love story.
Top international reviews
The age-old conflicts between China and Japan mar the family acceptance of any relationship, even though Henry and Keiko are both naturalised American citizens. With the bombing of Pearl Harbour and the declaration of war between the USA and Japan, there is an overwhelming division between the Japanese and other communities. As a consequence all Japanese immigrants are interned in camps, their personal belongings are stored in the Hotel on the Corner, The Panama Hotel, and their remaining properties and businesses are looted.
The story covers an aspect of the war that I hadn’t really appreciated, how Japanese immigrants were treated in the United States after the bombing of Pearl Harbour.
How can a personal relationship survive these forces? The efforts of how Henry tried to maintain his connection with Keiko, even visiting Keiko in the camps undercover, is very well developed. The Japanese are relocated and he loses all contact, although he never forgets and never stops wondering what may have been.
So this is a love story against all the odds. Is your first love your most powerful love?
The novel alternates between the 1940s and 1986. In 1986 the Panama Hotel is the centre of a refurbishment and when its doors are opened they discover the belongings of the interned Japanese people back in 1942. Henry searches the belongings particularly for a rare record that Keiko had and a hope he could find a link to her, over 40 years later. Well read it and find out .
The book spans most of the twentieth century with many flashbacks. The book has a surprise ending that confirms that love conquers all. It's fundamentally about humanity and the need to accept both the bitter and sweet in life.
This is a totally delightful novel. It covers so many difficult life choices (and there were certainly many such choices for a Chinese boy growing up in Seattle in 1942) and deals with each beautifully.
In common with many novels involving children on the verge of adulthood we see aspects of bullying, first love and parenting. But a mixed race relationship, first generation immigration and a background of wars raging between America and Japan and China and Japan gives added interest to each of those themes.
Jamie Ford tells Henry and Keiko's story in a flowing style which switches regularly between past and present. His characters are generally decent (or at least well-meaning) people and the story is fast moving with some excellent scenes including a memorable chase. However my overriding feeling for the book is a degree of poignancy that I have not experienced for some time.
I strongly recommend it.
I enjoyed the story and the ending is absolutely pitch perfect. However, I couldn’t rate the book any higher as I had some issues with the writing style. For me, there was too much unnecessary “telling” where some more “showing” or saying nothing would have done the trick. In some places the flow was also a bit “off”, although I would find it hard to explain why I felt this way.
As a Brit, unsurprisingly, my education about WWII focused mainly on Britain and the rest of Europe. Consequently, I thought the description of what happened to Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor was fascinating. The book was also refreshingly non-preachy, reporting the events and leaving the reader to make their own moral judgements.
A sweet story taking place amid interesting events, I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction and/or cute romance.
However after many years ,there is a very happy ending to this story that will soften the hardest heart.
The story jumps back and forward in time, describing Henry as a widow with his own son, and Henry's story as a 12 year old with Keiko. As Henry meets his sons non Asian fiancee he reflects on his past and tracks down and meets the adult Keiko, the 'sweet' after the 'bitter' of the past.