Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I am happy I chose to read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet as the first book of 2013. It touched me in many different ways and was worthy of praise on many levels.
I was drawn into the life of Henry Lee from the moment he appeared on the page. The elderly Henry is carrying so much sadness around with him that the reader knows he has a story to reveal.
Then we meet the young Henry just stepping into adolescence, which at the best of times, is difficult for kids, but add the coming war, and his conflicts at school paralleled by his conflicts with his father, and the reader has an intriguing coming of age story.
But this book goes beyond that, and delves into the conflict between the Japanese and Chinese culture.
Throw Henry into a friendship with a Japanese girl,Keiko, and the reader knows there is little hope that Henry can ever rise above his culture, and the prejudice of the times to form a bond with her that will endure. Hence the "bittersweet" feel to this story. Even though I was pulling for Henry and Keiko to somehow "make it," I knew they could not, but that didn't diminish my love for the book, in the least.
I have a dear friend who is Japanese-American and the first scene with Henry and his parents brought to mind her words about the Japanese and their customs. I was eager to tell her about the book and plan to discuss it with her after she reads it, which just extends my love of the book.
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