Margaret's Reviews > Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
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's review
Oct 01, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: borders-original-voices
Read in September, 2009

A title to be added to the list of WWII books that focus on the complex and often horrifying relationship between "white" Americans and those of Japanese descent on the West Coast (in this case in Seattle) during the war years. Certainly the major theme is tolerance, sadly a theme that was topical then, is topical now, and likely will be for the rest of human history. While I view this particular book as being more "Young Adult" in nature, certainly it's appropriate for older readers, too - I think, though, that it would make a particularly great read for teens and young adults, and I mean that as a compliment.

The story shuttles back and forth between 1985 and 1942+, focusing on Henry, the main character who is of Chinese descent, and his friend, Keiko, who is of Japanese. Understanding that there is a deep seated traditional enmity between these two races helps in appreciating the story. This is a first novel by Jamie Ford, and while I think he has some growing to do with his writing, he does a lovely job with this story, which also focuses on Henry's relationship with his son.

If you like this book, I recommend J.G. Ballard's "Empire of the Son" - yes, completely different in tone and a more disturbing tale in ways, but a fascinating book that includes focus on the Japanese occupation of China. The movie was good; the book is even better.
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