Beverly B, September 6, 2015 (view all comments by Beverly B)
I loved this sweet story of young love, family loyalty and the inevitable realization that our society is made up of flawed individuals and quiet heroes. The characters are real and the history of Japanese internment is accurate. I am not a fan of most romance stories, but the voice and mood of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet was so authentic, it reminded me of To Kill A Mockingbird.
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.
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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.
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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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"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"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.)
by Kirkus Reviews,
"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."
by Garth Stein, New York Times bestselling author of The Art of Racing in the Rain,
"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."
by Lisa See, bestselling author of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan,
"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."
"[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."
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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