When I told friends and family members that I was reading Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford for September's book club, they all said, "I read that. It was great!" Or, "I really loved that book." Well, where had I been? Why hadn't I heard about this great book?
I will agree with their assessments. This was a great book and I loved it. It is the story of a young Chinese boy, Henry, in Seattle during WWII who falls in love with a Japanese-American girl, Keiko from his school. She and her family are sent to an internment camp. The story jumps back and forth from an older Henry in 1986 and the young Henry. Both stories focus on the father and son relationship.
The hotel comes into play as the location where many Japanese families left their belongings for safe keeping. The families never returned for their items and thus, the belongings were discovered when the old hotel was undergoing renovations. Henry is able to recover an old jazz recording of a song that he an Keiko heard in a jazz club one evening.
This book is a sad reminder of a time in American history where we treated our own citizens as the enemy. I found it terribly disturbing when the author describes how families burned photos and clothing and mementos that had anything to do with their heritage in order to hide that heritage and prove their patriotism and loyalty to America.
This story was a wonderfully written piece of historical fiction. I give it five out of five stars!