Thursday, May 14, 2009

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford


Copyright: 2009

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Genre: Fiction

Pages: 290

Challenges: War Through the Generations, The Pub Challenge

New-to-me author? yes

Author’s website

Simple Description

This book goes back and forth between 1986 and the 1940’s during the WWII and right after the end of the War. The main charactors and Henry, a Chinease American, and Keiko, a Japanese American. Henry is sent to an all-white private school where he is constantly made fun of for being Chinese. One day Keiko shows up. She is the only other non-white in the school and is also teased because of it. This helps Henry and Keiko forge a strong bond.They are 11 or 12 at the time they meet. Henry doesn’t tell his parents about Keiko because his Dad is very much anti-Japanese. However Keiko does tell her family about Henry and they meet him and don’t care that he is Chinease. One day, Keiko and Henry are able to sneak into a local jazz club where Henry’s friend, Sheldon, is playing the sax. The main person at the jazz club is Oscar Holden and he creates a song for Henry and Keiko. This song ends up being recorded on vinyl and this is a reoccurring thing throughout the story. As an adult Henry is always trying to find a copy of this record. Soon, the US decides to put all the Japanese Americans into internment camps due to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Henry is devastated by this because Keiko soon has to leave and go to a camp. Due to one of the white adults Henry knows, he is able to find Keiko at this camp and bring her things that she needs. Soon Keiko is transported to another camp that is much further away, a different state. Henry and Keiko didn’t have a good parting and this bothers him. Sheldon suggested that Henry take a bus and go visit Keiko, which the two do. There Henry and Keiko realize that what they have is love and agree to wait for each other, until the war is over and Keiko isn’t stuck in a camp. After awhile though, Keiko stops responding to Henry’s letters. He realizes the she must have moved on and tries to forget her. He marries and has a son.

In the chapters where it is 1986, we learn that Henry’s wife has died and he doesn’t have a great relationship with his son. This changes as the story about Keiko comes out and helps bring together Henry and his son.

Why did I read this book?

I kept reading great reviews online about this book and was offered a review copy, how could I pass that up!

What I liked most:

I loved learning about this aspect of WWII. It’s something we, as Americans, know happened but for the younger generations, we don’t hear about it. It’s not something that is readily talked about. When I think of WWII I think of the Nazi’s and their concentration camp. I loved that this book was from a different viewpoint and it showed what happened and what those times were like for an Asian living in the US.

I also loved Sheldon. He is an awesome character.

Was there something I didn’t like?

I wish the ending had been different. I totally understand why the ending is the way it is, but that doesn’t mean I wish that the book had kept going and I learned more.

Do I recommend the book?

I really do. I admit that when I was first reading it I thought “It’s good…but not as good as I was expecting it to be based on other reviews.” However, the more I read it, the more I loved it.

Have you reviewed this book on your blog? Leave me a comment to let me know and I’ll link it below.

Reviewed by:

2 Kids and Tired Book reviews

War through the generations challenge (several reviews for this book on the challenge blog)

Happy Reading and thanks for stopping by……Kris

11 comments:

Dorte H said...

I think the book sounds good, and it is also interesting to hear your American perspective on WWII.

I have just enjoyed & reviewed another cozy mystery. Three read, three to go - and two of them are ready on my shelf so all I need is time :D

tea said...

I Like your review.This is one I want to read.

Holly said...

I loved this one too! Honestly, I don't think I've seen a negative review. Mine is here: http://2kidsandtiredbooks.blogspot.com/2009/03/hotel-on-corner-of-bitter-and-sweet.html

bermudaonion said...

I can't wait to read this book!

Jamie Ford said...

Hi Kris, thanks for the lovely review! I have a book event tonight, but I'll be sure to pop by later--if anyone has any questions, I'm always happy to answer.

Best to all!

Beth F said...

I've been thinking of this one. I am sure I'll get to it one of these days soon.

Book said...

looking forward to adding this book to my ever growing stacks...

LuAnn said...

This book sounds so sweet, I'd love to read it!

Anna said...

Lucky you receiving a review copy! I've had my eye on this one for a while. Glad to hear you liked it.

I've posted about your review here.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Ladytink_534 said...

Everyone who blogs seems to have read this book but I just don't think I'm going to. It sounds like it could be a good one but it also sounds like it would be a little sad.

Kris said...

Ladytink - in a way it is sad but I think the ending is great - but I don't really want to say much because I don't want to give it away. If you don't mind knowing the ending before you read the book - feel free to email me!