Hotel On The Corner Of Bitter And Sweet

Hotel On The Corner Of Bitter And Sweet by Jamie Ford- 270 pages
Book Blurb:
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 to internment camps during World War II. As Henry looks on, the owner opens a Japanese parasol.
This simple act takes old Henry Lee back to the 1940s, at the height of the war, when young Henry's world is a jumble of confusion and excitement, and to his father, who is obsessed with the war in China and having Henry grow up American. While "scholarshipping" at the exclusive Rainier Elementary, where the white kids ignore him, Henry meets Keiko Okabe, a young Japanese American student. Amid the chaos of blackouts, curfews, and FBI raids, Henry and Keiko forge a bond of friendship - and innocent love - that transcends the long-standing prejudices of their Old World ancestors. And after Keiko and her family are swept up in the evacuations to the internment camps, she and Henry are left only with the hope that the war will end, and that their promise to each other will be kept.
Forty years later, Henry Lee is certain that the parasol belonged to Keiko. In the hotel's dark dusty basement he begins looking for signs of the Okabe family's belongings and for a long-lost object whose value he cannot begin to measure. Now a widower, Henry is still trying to find his voice - words that might explain the actions of his nationalistic father; words that might bridge the gap between him and his modern, Chinese American son; words that might help him confront the choices he made many years ago.
My Review: 4.5 stars
This book was a giveaway from Book Group Expo in 2008 and what a gift it was. This book is tender at its core and with only 270 pages this author is able to express so much about time and place. At the core of this book is friendship, first love, racism, music, war and father/son relationships. I had no idea how racism played such a role for the Chinese people when
Americans believed them to be Japanese during WW2.

Quotes I liked:
-“I try not to live in the past...but...sometimes the past lives in me”

-“The hardest choices in life aren't between what's right and what's wrong but between what's right and what's best.”

-“He'd learned long ago: perfection isn't what families are all about.”

Tags: Historical Fiction, 2009, WW2, Coming Of Age

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