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Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet: A Novel Hardcover – Jan 27 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (Jan. 27 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345505336
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345505330
  • Product Dimensions: 2.6 x 16.5 x 24.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 522 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #256,105 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Shelley T. Malo on Sept. 22 2009
Format: Audio CD
I stumbled upon the audio version of this book in my local library and am so glad I did. I was completely absorbed in this novel and the characters from start to finish. It is a book about belonging and the fear and ignorance that led to such prejudice in the 1940s.

This book also a book about relationships, between parents and their children, children and their peers, and between friends and lovers. Another reviewer Kate Messner said it so eloquently when she said that this book "looks at the best and worst of human relationships, the way we regard others, the way we find ourselves reenacting our relationships with our parents with our own children, the choices we make along the way. Mostly, though, this book reminds us that there is always room -- and time -- for forgiveness and redemption."

I must note that this book was as beautifully read as it was written. The reader, Feodor Chin was exceptional!

I hope Jamie Ford continues writing as he is an exceptionally talented author.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Sheri S. on March 15 2009
Format: Hardcover
The book begins in 1986 and follows Henry Lee, a Chinese-American whose wife has recently passed away. He is dealing with his heartache and a strained relationship with his grown-up son Marty. The Panama Hotel, a renovated hotel in what was once Seattle's Japantown, recently discovered belongings that were once hidden there by Japanese immigrants in WWII. This news sparks Henry's memories of his youth and flashbacks to the 1940s when Henry had developed a close relationship with a Japanese girl named Keiko. Henry's father however, was a strict advocate for his Chinese heritage, forcing Henry to wear a pin stating "I am Chinese" and showed a stubborn dislike of all things Japanese. Henry's relationship with Keiko, set to the backdrop of WWII, forces him to grow up quickly and make difficult and sometimes dangerous decisions in order to fight for what he believes in.

I enjoyed this story from start to finish. It is surprising that this is Jamie Ford's first novel because his writing is so professional and polished while retaining its passionate flair. Henry and Keiko are two of the most endearing characters I have ever encountered and it is hard not to feel connected to them and become deeply invested in their outcomes.

"Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet" also explores important issues of culture and the ramifications of prejudice, proving that there is more depth to this sweet story than meets the eye. Though it's often hard for an author to separate his or her own personal judgments and opinions, Jamie has done his best as he so eloquently states in his author's note:
"My intent was not to create a morality play, with my voice being the loudest on stage, but rather to defer to the reader's sense of justice, of right and wrong, and let the facts speak plainly.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By NyiNya TOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 15 2010
Format: Paperback
I am fascinated and horrified at the period in American History covered by this book. The shamefull internment of Japanese Americans in concentration camps, while their possessions were taken over (stolen) by their neighbors was covered up for decades. I certainly never learned about it in school. I jumped at the opportunity to add to my knowledge of the era, but this is not the book to do it.

The novel is full of misinformation and anachronisms, so I don't trust it to provide any real information. At heart, this is the story of a pre-teen named Henry, the son of Chinese immigrants. Henry's relatives in China suffered terribly under the Japanese occupying forces, and Henry's father despises all Japanese. This is bad news when Henry falls in love with Keiko. If parental opposition isn't enough, Keiko and her family are soon sent to a concentration camp in Idaho. But Henry never forgets Keiko and Keiko never forgets Henry.

This is a great love story for the very young or ,perhaps, the very old. Anyone between 13 and 70 is going to find it a little lame, a little skewed in terms of facts, and slow going in general. There are anachronisms galore, a story line that jumps back and forth in time, but without indicating any growth or maturity on the part of the characters, and really, in the end, it's just not worth the effort to read.
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Format: Kindle Edition
My Review: After reading, reviewing and really enjoying Garden of Stones by Sophie Littlefield a year and a half ago I was eager to read more about the experiences of Japanese Americans during WWII as they were 'evacuated' to internment camps based solely on their race by their own government.

Based on the title and content of the book I think that the author was going for a touching, overly sentimental read but unfortunately I didn't think he quite got there. There was an obvious Romeo and Juliet theme to the storyline but the emotion that you'd expect to be attached to the characters' experiences was lacking and I never felt a deep emotional attachment to Henry, Keiko or their families. Honestly, Keiko's family seemed overly positive for the turmoil their family had to deal with on a daily basis and their reactions just didn't ring true for me.

While I applaud the author for making people of this generation aware of the atrocities, racial discrimination and social injustices that Seattle's Japanese Americans had to endure, I do wish (and expected) the book to deal more with what life was like in the internment camps. I was hoping for a lot more information regarding Keiko's family's experiences and felt like the author missed an opportunity by not incorporating their viewpoints.

The characters, specifically Keiko and especially Henry seemed very one-dimensional and the emotional elements were thin and overly simplistic. It had more of a middle school feel to it if I'm being honest. I also think that more time could have also been used to incorporate some of the secondary characters into the storyline more. Mrs Beatty and Sheldon were the most intriguing and believable characters in the book but sorely underused.
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