Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” as Want to Read:
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

by
3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  148,858 ratings  ·  14,998 reviews
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 t...more
Hardcover, 290 pages
Published January 27th 2009 by Ballantine Books (first published 2009)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Gaia Absolutely not! It's just a bitter-sweet story set during WWII.
Catching Fire by Suzanne CollinsThe Help by Kathryn StockettCity of Glass by Cassandra ClareAn Echo in the Bone by Diana GabaldonBlood Promise by Richelle Mead
Best Books of 2009
19th out of 1,359 books — 6,705 voters
The Help by Kathryn StockettWater for Elephants by Sara GruenThe Kite Runner by Khaled HosseiniThe Book Thief by Markus ZusakTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Best for Book Clubs
59th out of 3,400 books — 8,833 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Nan
Original review posted: Mar 19, 09

I have to admit that I did not like this book. Mr. Ford is a decent writer, and while he did research 1942 fairly extensively, he did a crappy job portraying 1986. I was alive in '86. I was ten, in fact. While my memory of the time is going to be different than that of a 50 year old character, I wound up being very tired of the repeated anachronisms. In one paragraph--on page four of the book, I believe--the narrator tells the readers that the main character's s...more
Jeff
"Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet" is as saccharine and overly sentimental as the title suggests. It is historical fiction for the Nicholas Sparks set -- an emotionally heavy-handed novel that is well told, but not particularly well written.

There are some diamonds in the rough, though: the historical aspects of the novel are very interesting; the relationships depicted in the book, while not always believable, are complex; and, the issues related to cultural identity and racial discrimin...more
Lynn
I loved this book, but I had one minor annoyance with it. The author had 4 anachronisms: the book is set (in part) in 1986, and yet the son is in an "on-line" grief support group, and used the internet to look up a lost friend, and there is talk twice about digital conversion of records to CDs.

This book is told by a 50+ year old second generation Chinese-American. It is told in two different time periods, and flows back and forth between the 1940's to 1986 seemlessly. It is the story of a young...more
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
Feb 03, 2013 Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Cultural: Asian - Chinese & Japanese
Recommended to Florence (Lefty) by: GR Group read - LoveOfReading
Switching between 1942 and 1986 this is an easy read on a complex subject. A historical romance with a Romeo & Juliet twist, this time the doomed love affair between Henry, a Chinese American and Keiko, a Japanese American; its historical focus the internment of Japanese Americans during WW2.
I loved the inclusion of Seattle’s music scene, the symbolism of the lost jazz record interwoven throughout, the passages that escalated it above a pure romance novel. (view spoiler)...more
Laura
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford, Release Date 1/27/2009, $24.00

I've just finished reading Jamie Ford's forthcoming novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, and am still basking in the glow. The characters are fully realized, the title is a real attention grabber, and the story fleshed out with plenty of local and period detail. Ford provides an intimate look at life on the homefront during WWII from the uncommon perpective of an earnest Chinese-American boy and his...more
Ellie
Set in Seattle, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet tells of the forbidden friendship between a Chinese-American boy named Henry Lee and a Japanese-American girl named Keiko Okabe during the Second World War. Henry and Keiko are both just twelve years old when they become friends in 1942. Life is difficult for both of them. They face racism and prejudice on a daily basis and Henry's father does not approve of the friendship. After the devastation of Pearl Harbour, the US government decides t...more
Susan
I'm always a little behind the curve when it comes to reading blockbuster NYT bestsellers. I think a part of me resists because I love finding "little" books that deserve kudos and talking about them. But I had heard so many good things about THE HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET that I bought it, though I sat on it a while before I cracked it open to read. Once I did, I was hooked instantly by the wonderful character of Henry Lee, a 12-year-old boy in Seattle's Chinatown during the early...more
Laura
Aug 20, 2012 Laura rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: no one
Recommended to Laura by: book club
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ariella
Oy vey.
I really did want to like this book. It sounded like the perfect book for my mood: Not too highfalutin or literary, but a good story I which I can immerse myself and escape to a different time and place.
As I went on Goodreads a few days ago to add the book to my list of 'currently reading' however, I came across a number of really bad reviews. Disappointed, and somewhat deflated, I nevertheless read on trying to ignore the negativity, stay positive and try to like the story and get into...more
Karla
A rich, tender, personal story so touching and full of history I should know, but didn't. Pulled at my heartstrings and made me longingly linger over and over the last few chapters.
Set durring the height of Nihonmachi district (JapanTown) area of Seattle, Washingtom. You jump from 1986 to 1942 thoughout the story. To tell the tale of Henery Lee an intelligent, brave, 12yr old Chinese American quickly growing into a man thru struggling WWII times. He has a strained relationship with his father mi...more
Linda
Great book. I love novels based on historical fact. I finished it in just a day and a half. Hard to believe it is a first novel. I am looking forward to more from this author. I looked up some of the people and places mentioned in the book, just to see if they were real - and was pleased to find that they were. Of course if I had read the acknolwedgements at the end of the book I would have known that already.
JoAnn/QuAppelle
I had heard lots about this book, but had not put it on my TBR list. So when I saw the audio at the library, I figured...what the heck, may as well try it! I might not have finished it if I had an alternative book in the car to read. Sometimes the reader annoyed me when he said the main character's (Henry's) words with a Chinese accent (inconsistently at that!) .... since Henry had been born in the US.

I usually do not like when an author switches back and forth from one time period to another, b...more
Claudine
Hotel made me cry, made me laugh and brought me joy. It's a beautifully written and tender story about first love, the human experience surrounding racial divides, generational conflicts, and the internment of Japanese Americans. You won't be disappointed with Hotel.
Amalia
After reading how many people absolutely adore this book, I almost feel a little guilty giving it a "meh" review. But....a "meh" review it deserves, and that's what it shall get from me.

First, the good: My sense is that this story has raised awareness of the internment camps that many Japanese-Americans were placed in during WWII. As someone who believes that without knowledge of history we're doomed to repeat it, I think that's timely and important knowledge for people to have. The story of Hen...more
Jason Koivu
For me Jamie Ford's heralded, multiple award-winning Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet was an entirely luke warm reading experience from start to finish. The emotional heat that should have brewed within a story of this nature considering the volatile subject matter failed to materialize. I never tasted the venom of injustice as I should have. Yes, it was a lovely story, a quaint, well-written love story for which I gave the rating an extra star, but I had a hard time rooting for the roman...more
Janelle
If this isn't an eye opening book, I don't know what is.

This is a story of a 1st generation Chinese American boy named Henry in 1942 Seattle. During World War II his father wants to ensure no one confuses him for the ostracized Japanese and sends his son to an all white school with an "I Am Chinese" button on his clothing. There he meets 2nd generation Japanese American girl named Keiko. Though Henry's father has a passionate hatred for the Japanese, Henry develops a sweet, deep and secretive f...more
Tasha enderby
My book club read this book and when I passed the cover in an airport I knew I just had to read it. When my girlfriend found it on sale it put it on my list.

Okay this is a do not pass up book, the reading is light goes quickly but the story is deep. I can't help but think of my very first real crush I had in the seventh grade, it my first attempt at understanding the very adult feeling I was having towards Tony. The funny thing is I can't tell you my husbands birthday but I can still remember th...more
Connie
I found this debut novel by Jamie Ford to be exactly what the title suggested...bitter and sweet. Knowing that this story revolved around the "imprisonment" of Japanese "Americans" during WW 2 I was at first expecting that to be more of the focus of this book. Instead I found a story of first love, everlasting love, of a good person and a life lived.

Henry (Chinese) and Keiko (Japanese) become fast friends when they are young, the outsiders in an all white school. Their bond is tested when she...more
K
No. Just, no.

I had pretty much decided to abandon this book unfinished when I received notification that the audiobook I had requested from the library was now available for download. Well, that clinched it.

And so, in the style of Goodnight Moon, I am bidding this book good-bye. Good-bye book. Good-bye hopelessly twee title (which should have been a clue). Good-bye awkward dialogue, and good-bye emotional manipulation. Good-bye, poor cliched struggling immigrant adolescent Henry. Good-bye, clea...more
Amy
I fell in love with the main character of this book from the first chapter. A wonderful story of love told through the lens of racism, prejudice, and war. Good storytelling combined with memorable and endearing characters. Highly recommended.
Dem
I wanted so much more from this book.........but sadly I just did not get it. This could have been a wonderful historical novel but it ended up being a cute love story and perhaps I expected too much from the book in the first place and therefore was disappointed with the read.

I was really looking forward to this book because it was about a period of US history in World War 2 involving the detention of US citizens of Japanese background which I knew very little about and was looking forward to t...more
Bobby
Reading this novel was in itself a memorable experience. There are books that I must hug when I finish reading. I hugged Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet often when reading, emotion taking over throughout, needing pauses to appreciate and feel rather than continuing to read. In that way, the novel is not a page turner. The warmth and honesty is just too much. I think that after a lifetime of reading, I have found a new treasure.



Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is a modern Romeo and...more
Gail
Although this is probably one of those implausible love stories that D. Steele might have written, the story is so much bigger and deeper because the author uses a first love to describe the differences and similarities of three generations of Chinese fathers and sons and what it means to be "American".

The setting moves back and forth between Seattle's International District during WWII and contemporary Seattle. So, that gives it a special geographical interest to me. The author gives an intima...more
Susan
I read this with my book club. I felt it was too elementary a treatment for my knowledge of the subject.
Clif Hostetler
This fictional story captures a bit of the melancholy experience of recalling (from the perspective of 40 years later) the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and knowing that it was a needless and an unjust disruption of the lives of many Americans. The story is told from the view point of a retired widower in the 1980s recalling his experiences that took place in 1942 when he was a twelve year old student of Chinese ancestry who had a friend who happened to be a girl of Japane...more
Gary
I read UNBROKEN some time back,and thought it was one of the best books I'd read in recent years. I wasn't expecting this one to be as great,and it wasn't. It was pretty predictable in many many ways, but it also threw a couple of whopper punches....surprises around the bend....but ended pretty much the way I expected,and yet......left the ending kinda wide open for interpretation....I hope that doesn't mean a sequel......

I learned some things about the American Japanese internment camps or Conc...more
Jeanette
I really wanted to rate this book a 5 and if I gave half ratings I suppose I'd give it 4.5. This book just drew me into the setting of Seattle during the 1940s and the internment of American citizens who were of Japanese decent during WWII. This book, in fact, made me cry which is an effect that few books have on me. I tend to be a fairly stoic person and that carries over into my reading but by the time I was finishing this book I was all weepy and glad no one was around to see me working my wa...more
Jennifer Lane
I tend to enjoy novels that flash back and forth from past to present, and this novel was no different (though "present" is 1986). The story features Henry, a Chinese man in his fifties who lives in Seattle. The bulk of the events take place in the early 1940's during the heart of WWII, when Henry was only twelve. His Chinese parents enact several harsh rules for their son: sending him to an American school where he's beaten and teased for being Chinese, insisting he speak to them only in Englis...more
Stella
I loved this book so much. I am glad I didn't read any of the reviews before I downloaded the Kindle sample. By the end of the sample I was hooked and purchased the book and no bad review could have ruined it for me. (people seem to be really upset about a few errouneous references to the internet in the 80s. Yes, I got that, too, but it really didn’t ruin the book)

Apart from the historical setting of Japanese internment during the World War 2, something I didn’t know much about, I was truly int...more
Kip
I was interested in this novel primarily because of its depiction of anti-Japanese sentiment in the United States during the 1940s. Ford does a nice job of showing some of the injustices perpetrated against Japanese Americans, who were evacuated from their homes, stripped of most of their possessions, and sent to internment camps despite little evidence that they presented any real threat to U.S. national security. Through the eyes of a young Chinese American boy, we see the destructive effects...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Around the World ...: Discussion for Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet 11 39 Oct 19, 2014 11:58PM  
Novel Readers : I Am Chinese 2 4 Sep 23, 2014 11:31AM  
Book Broads: Ninth book 1 2 Sep 16, 2014 10:46PM  
Did Henry love Keiko or was it merely platonic? 10 182 May 31, 2014 06:01AM  
  • Honolulu
  • Tallgrass
  • The Kitchen House
  • The Street of a Thousand Blossoms
  • My Name is Mary Sutter
  • My Enemy's Cradle
  • Mudbound
  • Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
  • The Invisible Bridge
  • The Whistling Season
  • Dreams of Joy (Shanghai Girls #2)
  • The Rent Collector
  • The Sandcastle Girls
  • Saving CeeCee Honeycutt
  • The Story of Beautiful Girl
  • When the Emperor Was Divine
  • The Soldier's Wife
  • The Lost Wife
1421619
My name is James. Yes, I'm a dude.

I’m also the New York Times bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet—which was, in no particular order, an IndieBound NEXT List Selection, a Borders Original Voices Selection, a Barnes & Noble Book Club Selection, Pennie’s Pick at Costco, a Target Bookmarked Club Pick, and a National Bestseller. It was also named the #1 Book Club Pick for...more
More about Jamie Ford...
Songs of Willow Frost Middle, Lost, and Found Benjamin Franklin: Best Quotes Abraham Lincoln: Best Quotes (Wisdom Series) Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet and Songs of Willow Frost: Two Bestselling Novels: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Songs of Willow Frost

Share This Book

“The hardest choices in life aren't between what's right and what's wrong but between what's right and what's best.” 299 likes
“I had my chance.' He said it, retiring from a lifetime of wanting. 'I had my chance, and sometimes in life, there are no second chances. You look at what you have, not what you miss, and you move forward.” 179 likes
More quotes…