Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

73%

16 Critic Reviews

Sentimental, heartfelt novel portrays two children separated during the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

BONUS: This edition contains a Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet discussion guide and an excerpt from Jamie Ford's Songs of Willow Frost.

"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.
 

About Jamie Ford

See more books from this Author
The son of both American and Chinese parents, JAMIE FORD is the award-winning author of the bestselling novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet which was awarded the Asian Pacific American Award for Literature. Jamie is father of six and lives in Montana with his wife Leesha.


















































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Author Residence: Great Falls, MT


















































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Author Hometown: Seattle, WA
 
Published January 27, 2009 by Ballantine Books. 322 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
Bestseller Status:
icon15
Peak Rank on Mar 06 2011
icon8
Weeks as Bestseller
Bookmark Counts:
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Critic reviews for Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
All: 16 | Positive: 11 | Negative: 5

Kirkus

Good

Sentimental, heartfelt novel portrays two children separated during the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

Read Full Review of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter... | See more reviews from Kirkus

Publishers Weekly

Below average

...the flatness of the narrative and Ford’s reliance on numerous cultural clichés make for a disappointing read.

Read Full Review of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter... | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

Blog Critics

Excellent
on Jan 03 2009

A beautiful endearing story — don’t miss this one.

Read Full Review of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter... | See more reviews from Blog Critics

Book Reporter

Below average
Reviewed by Norah Piehl on Jan 30 2009

Henry's 12-year-old self is occasionally too perceptive, too self-aware to be entirely convincing as the voice of a child; one wonders whether it would have been better to have Henry and Keiko be somewhat older teens or young adults...

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Suite 101

Good
on Nov 02 2010

Jamie Ford's debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, is captivating.

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Pajiba

Excellent

It’s impossible not to empathize with these kids, and there’s genuine suspense to the narrative.

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The Seattle Times

Below average
on Feb 06 2009

Ford's prose, while an easy read, can be a little clumsy at times.

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Tampa Bay Times

Excellent
on Oct 09 2009

Ford does a masterful job creating a lost time and place. Seattle of the 1940s comes vividly alive, with a thriving jazz scene and a mix of cultures.

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Historical Novel Society

Excellent

This is a thoroughly enjoyable novel with strong characters and something important to say. Very much recommended.

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About.com Bestsellers

Below average

It is not a literary masterpiece. It does not offer any especially deep or unexpected insights.

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Huntington News

Above average
on Jan 27 2009

Both Sheldon and Mrs. Beatty verge on cliche' characters at times...

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Book Buzz

Good
Reviewed by Sarah Chain on Mar 16 2012

The details of the time period and place are also particularly vivid. Relationships between Chinatown and Japantown that I would not even have considered come alive in Ford’s writing. You get a sense of the terror, especially in coastal states like Washington and California.

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A Patchwork of Books

Good
on Feb 13 2010

It made me really think about our history as a country...

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Capital Area District Library

Good

A vivid portrait of attitudes and practices in wartime Seattle, the novel is also a moving study of the relationships between fathers and sons.

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Gather Books

Good
on Jul 06 2009

The book is well written and full of accurate historical details.

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Kate Messner

Excellent
on Jan 02 2009

I finished this book in tears, moved by the people who came to life so vividly in the story and sad that it had to end at all.

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Jaclyn Saffa

Jaclyn Saffa 5 Sep 2013

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