Wednesday, September 02, 2009
HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET by Jamie Ford
In Jamie Ford's HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET, the author tells the story of a Chinese boy and a Japanese girl in Seattle during WWII and what became of them in the aftermath of the war.
It is 1986 and a discovery is made in the basement of the old Panama Hotel that has been shuttered since WWII. Workers discover the belongings of dozens of Japanese families that had been stored there until they returned from the internment camps. Henry Lee goes to see the items and a certain parasol brings back memories of his childhood. The story moves back and forth from 1986 to the early war years as we follow Henry's friendship and blossoming love with Keiko Okabe.
This is a lovely, sweet sentimental tale not only of the tragedy of how Japanese-American were treated during WWII but also a coming-of-age tale about first love. It is a reminder of how difficult life can be and how we must often make life-changing choices that we never recover from. First love is a very powerful thing and we carry it with us forever.
BOTTOM LINE: Recommended. This bittersweet tale was very moving. I especially loved all the references to jazz and how music was so central to the love story of these two people. This would make a nice companion read to Sandra Dallas' TALLGRASS.