Tuesday, September 28, 2010
The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
"Fifth-grade scholarship students and best friends Henry and Keiko are the only Asians in their Seattle elementary school in 1942. Henry is Chinese, Keiko is Japanese, and Pearl Harbor has made all Asians-even those who are American born-targets for abuse. Because Henry's nationalistic father has a deep-seated hatred for Japan, Henry keeps his friendship with and eventual love for Keiko a secret. When Keiko's family is sent to an internment camp in Idaho, Henry vows to wait for her. Forty years later, Henry comes upon an old hotel where the belongings of dozens of displaced Japanese families have turned up in the basement, and his love for Keiko is reborn. In his first novel, award-winning short-story writer Ford expertly nails the sweet innocence of first love, the cruelty of racism, the blindness of patriotism, the astonishing unknowns between parents and their children, and the sadness and satisfaction at the end of a life well lived. The result is a vivid picture of a confusing and critical time in American history. Recommended for all fiction collections." - Library Journal
I was very surprised that the professional reviews of this book were so mediocre. I absolutely loved it (but I tend to be overly sentimental!) The book toggles between two time periods - 1942 and the somewhat present 1986. It tells the story of Henry and Keiko and there unlikely friendship. It contains all the elements that make a great book (for me anyway) romance, intrigue, drama, loss... I definitely would recommend this book.