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Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

by

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet Cover

ISBN13: 9780345505347
ISBN10: 0345505344
Condition: Standard
All Product Details

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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 scholar-shipping 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.

Review:

"Ford's strained debut concerns Henry Lee, a Chinese-American in Seattle who, in 1986, has just lost his wife to cancer. After Henry hears that the belongings of Japanese immigrants interned during WWII have been found in the basement of the Panama Hotel, the narrative shuttles between 1986 and the 1940s in a predictable story that chronicles the losses of old age and the bewilderment of youth. Henry recalls the difficulties of life in America during WWII, when he and his Japanese-American school friend, Keiko, wandered through wartime Seattle. Keiko and her family are later interned in a camp, and Henry, horrified by America's anti-Japanese hysteria, is further conflicted because of his Chinese father's anti-Japanese sentiment. Henry's adult life in 1986 is rather mechanically rendered, and Ford clumsily contrasts Henry's difficulty in communicating with his college-age son, Marty, with Henry's own alienation from his father, who was determined to Americanize him. The wartime persecution of Japanese immigrants is presented well, but the flatness of the narrative and Ford's reliance on numerous cultural cliches make for a disappointing read." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"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

Review:

"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

Review:

"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

Review:

"[Ford] writes earnestly and cares for his characters, who consistently defy stereotype. Ford posits great meaning in objects...but the most striking moments come from the characters' readings of each other." Booklist

Synopsis:

This debut novel tells a heartwarming story of fathers and sons, first loves, fate, and the resilient human heart. Set in the ethnic neighborhoods of Seattle during World War II and Japanese American internment camps of the era, the times and places are brought to life.

About the Author

An award-winning short-story writer, Jamie Ford is the great-grandson of Nevada mining pioneer Min Chung, who emigrated in 1865 from Kaiping, China, to San Francisco, where he adopted the Western name "Ford," thus confusing countless generations.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 24 comments:

Kathy Gregg, January 8, 2013 (view all comments by Kathy Gregg)
The author of this book created believable characters in an atmosphere of incredible obstacles. Though this is a fictional work, the tragic events in the story really happened in our country at a time when trust in people was over shadowed by fear. Yet the main characters did not lose hope. "He'd do what he always did, find the bitter among the sweet (p. 265) or (p.77) "...burnt sienna flooding the horizon. It reminded him that time was short but beautiful endings could still be found".
Excellent story, fine writing, U.S. history told in an interesting and compelling journey of
characters that come alive on every page.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(1 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)
JanB, November 1, 2012 (view all comments by JanB)
Whenever someone asks me what books I would recommend for them to read, this book is always at the top of the list. I can't think of a recent book that has touched me more than this one has.

The story moves back and forth between the 1940's when Henry and Keiko first meet as the only non white students at school, and 1986 after Henry's wife has passed away. Henry and Keiko are best friends until she is sent away to an internment camp with her family. The beauty of this novel is in the richness of the relationships between Henry and Keiko, Henry and his father, and Henry and his adult son.

The end of the book moved me so much that I was in tears, and for me that's the barometer I go by when judging a book. It doesn't matter if it's sad tears or tears of joy, if an author's words can affect me that deeply, then that's a great writer and a good book. This is one of the absolute best and should not be missed.


Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
gcinthegorge, January 17, 2012 (view all comments by gcinthegorge)
Having grown up in the Pacific Northwest, I was nevertheless ignorant concerning the incarceration of the Japanese-Americans in our area during World War 2. Throw in the Chinese culture, along with the Caucasian majority, and this historical novel is one which you won't soon forget. It's an endearing story which, as the title indicates, is sometimes wonderfully humorous and sweet.... and at other times very sad and bitter.
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(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 24 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780345505347
Author:
Ford, Jamie
Publisher:
Ballantine Books
Subject:
Historical - General
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Historical fiction
Subject:
Fathers and sons
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Subject:
Literary
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20091031
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
320
Dimensions:
27.9 x 13 x 5.1 in 9.5 lb

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Related Subjects


Featured Titles » General
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Featured Titles » World Book Night 2014
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
History and Social Science » Pacific Northwest » Literature Folklore and Memoirs

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$7.95 In Stock
Product details 320 pages Ballantine Books - English 9780345505347 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Ford's strained debut concerns Henry Lee, a Chinese-American in Seattle who, in 1986, has just lost his wife to cancer. After Henry hears that the belongings of Japanese immigrants interned during WWII have been found in the basement of the Panama Hotel, the narrative shuttles between 1986 and the 1940s in a predictable story that chronicles the losses of old age and the bewilderment of youth. Henry recalls the difficulties of life in America during WWII, when he and his Japanese-American school friend, Keiko, wandered through wartime Seattle. Keiko and her family are later interned in a camp, and Henry, horrified by America's anti-Japanese hysteria, is further conflicted because of his Chinese father's anti-Japanese sentiment. Henry's adult life in 1986 is rather mechanically rendered, and Ford clumsily contrasts Henry's difficulty in communicating with his college-age son, Marty, with Henry's own alienation from his father, who was determined to Americanize him. The wartime persecution of Japanese immigrants is presented well, but the flatness of the narrative and Ford's reliance on numerous cultural cliches make for a disappointing read." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "[Ford] writes earnestly and cares for his characters, who consistently defy stereotype. Ford posits great meaning in objects...but the most striking moments come from the characters' readings of each other."
"Synopsis" by , This debut novel tells a heartwarming story of fathers and sons, first loves, fate, and the resilient human heart. Set in the ethnic neighborhoods of Seattle during World War II and Japanese American internment camps of the era, the times and places are brought to life.
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