Book Review: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

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Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Written by Jamie Ford 
Published by Ballantine Books on January 1, 2009
Genre/Topics: Fiction, Father/Son Relation, Love, Cultural, Historical 
290 pages 

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is the story of Henry who is Chinese American growing up in the 1940s in Seattle. Henry notices items taken out of the Panama Hotel that has been boarded up. The items belonged to Japanese families forced to leave to internment camps during WWII. It brings back memories to his friendship with a Japanese American girl, Keiko. Henry’s father is against anything Japanese, so Henry must keep his friendship a secret. Keiko and Henry are American but feel out of place at school, since they stand out. The book moves from the past to the present. Many years later, Henry examines items in the Panama Hotel in the hopes to discover what he’s been searching for.

I finished this book for the second time and loved it just as much as the first time. There are true aspects in the book, which the author explains. Panama Hotel actually exists and items in the basement did belong to Japanese families. The Japanese internment camps and WWII events are also true.  At times, I felt that the author tried to squeeze anything relating to Seattle, into the book. (Perhaps that’s because I live south of Seattle.) Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is a moving book that provides family relationships, cultural tensions, historical aspects, and even a hint of romance. I recommend this book.