Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Book #63 - Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
Jamie Ford

Blurb: 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.   (from Goodreads)

Length: Medium - 304 pages

Notes:I feel like the majority of the books I've read this year are either the teen fantastical genre or WWII genre.  But here is another WWII book!  When I was reading this, I liked it ok.  But now that I'm done, and the more I think of it, I think I actually like it more than when I was reading it.  It's about WWII, but it kind of takes a different path than most of the other books I've read.  It's about a Chinese boy who has a Japanese friend in the US during the war, and how the prejudices affected that friendship and their lives.  It wasn't the most exciting book, but it did have a good story, and I did learn a lot from it.  I would recommend it, but I didn't get as emotionally attached to it as I have to some others.

Random quote :  "The hardest choices in life aren't between what's right and what's wrong but between what's right and what's best."

Recommend: yes

Have you read this book? Share your feelings!

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