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Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
Author: Jamie Ford
Henry Lee is a 12-year-old Chinese boy who falls in love with Keiko Okabe, a 12-year-old Japanese girl, while they are scholarship students at a prestigious private school in World War II Seattle. Henry hides the relationship from his parents, who would disown him if they knew he had a Japanese friend. His father insists that Henry wear an "...  more »
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ISBN-13: 9780345505347
ISBN-10: 0345505344
Publication Date: 11/24/2009
Pages: 304
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.

4 stars, based on 595 ratings
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

reviewed Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet on + 5 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 16
I loved reading this book. The story is interesting, and it's written in such a way that you get caught up in the story, not the writing. It feels as though someone is sitting with you and re-telling it. No flowery language, no dramatic descriptions that go on for paragraphs - just a straight explanation of feelings, places, people... It is wonderful.
Sue-in-AZ avatar reviewed Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet on + 108 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 9
This book was a wonderful mix of historical facts (the internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII) and a very personal, poignant love story.

The story shifts between war-time Seattle in the 1940's and modern day Seattle. The main character has fallen in love with a girl of Japanese heritage. They pursue their star-crossed love and are faced with many unfair and dangerous obstacles.

I found this story very compelling and sad, but a great read. Bring the kleenex!
reviewed Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet on + 330 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 8
This incredibly sweet and touching novel brings an intimate look into the life of Henry Lee,a Chinese-American who one day witnesses a crowd outside the Panama Hotel. A hotel that once held so many memories for Henry. A hotel that now holds the memories of Japanese families that were interned during World War II.

When the belongings of Japanese families are found in the basement, Henry must go, he must find if there are any last treasures from his beloved Keiko. And in flashbacks and retrospect Henry tells the reader of his first love, of their challenges, of their hopes and dreams.

Young love plays out in the tumultuous days of the 1940's where Henry and Keiko meet in an exclusive elementary school, where white kids alternately ignore him and torment him. Where even if you are an American, you are treated differently because you don't look American. Where even your own family points fingers at those that look different, it doesn't matter that you were born on the same street, in the same hospital up on the hill, you are different and different isn't good. Different can hold you back and change your ways.

This is the difference that makes you choose what type of man you want to be, what you will hold on to and what you are willing to let go of. Though Henry's eyes, Jamie Ford introduces you to long remembered characters that show the reader the good in people, the strife that they must endure and the bitter sweet memories that build who they are. The is a novel that shouldn't be missed, a novel that leaves the reader hopeful that maybe there really is good that can come of out a dark time.
reviewed Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet on + 213 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 7
Every once in a while you come across an amazing, breathtaking book, this is one for me. I feel like i walked every step of the way right beside Henry.
anothertag avatar reviewed Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet on + 85 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 7
This is the story of Henry Lee (Chinese American) who meets Keiko Okabe (Japanese American) in 1942 in the Seattle WA area. The story is told in 1942 when Henry was a boy and 1986 after Henrys wife passes. The story involves family,friendships,schools, internment camps, jazz, Old World chinese culture, 2nd generation Americans, promises, and love. I enjoyed this book though I was disappointed with the ending
Read All 89 Book Reviews of "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet"

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crytal avatar reviewed Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet on + 155 more book reviews
A good book that I'm glad to have read. I have lived in the Puget Sound all of my life and had only a vauge knowledge of what happened to the area during WW2. I can't believe all that went on here and am glad I didn't have to live through it.
tntb avatar reviewed Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet on + 24 more book reviews
A love story with lots of information about WW11 years from the perspective of Japanese and Chinese Americans. It is important to remember the past so we don't repeat it in the future.

America continues to distrust our immagrants just as has been done from the beginning.
reviewed Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet on + 30 more book reviews
This was one of the best books I have ever read. It had truth, a love story, and very old customs which makes one think of the past and the future and how much is lost in our day and age. It is a very heart warming story.
greenflmom avatar reviewed Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet on + 17 more book reviews
It took me awhile to get into this book but after the first few chapters, I really started caring about Henry and his family. The book jumps back and forth between Henry growing up during the 1940's (the war years)and a recent widower during the 1980's. Themes include coming of age, young romance story, mixed race communities and the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII.

I believe my children read this book during middle school. Adults will enjoy it, too.
reviewed Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet on + 4 more book reviews
Great story of the shameful internment of Japanese Americans during WWII. Touching and meaningful twist.
reviewed Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet on + 92 more book reviews
Moving account of Seattle in WWII and the internment of the Japanese from a Chinese boys vantage point. From anyone's it was cruel and unbelievable. A shame upon the US. But the story is uplifting and shows the true meaning of honor.
reviewed Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet on + 628 more book reviews
An excellent read about star crossed lovers, he Chinese, and she Japanese, separated by the internment of the Japanese during WW11, set in Seattle Only 12 when they met, both outsiderd just for being Asian. The young man was bullied by his other white classmates . This follows their lifetimes over 40 years.
smileen avatar reviewed Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet on + 249 more book reviews
I just reread this book because I recommended it to my book club. It was just as wonderful the second time! It's based on the story of when they put Japanese people living in the US into internment camps during World War Two. The story takes place then, and also in 1986, when they are opening up the famous Panama Hotel in Seattle because during renovations, they found the belongings of many families who put them there for safekeeping when they were taken away. Henry, a Chinese boy born in the US and living in Seattle, is sent to an all American school as a child. He strikes up a friendship with Keiko, a Japanese girl born in the US, also at the school. The two outcasts strike up a forbidden friendship, which lasts until her family is forced to relocate. Very heartwarming story.
reviewed Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet on + 289 more book reviews
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is an enchanting debut work of historical fiction which touches on the themes of Asian-American identity, intergenerational differences, and the Japanese internment during World War II. Henry Lee is a middle-aged recent widower who stumbles upon a press conference announcing the discovery of the belongings of Japanese internees during a renovation of the Panama Hotel (a real landmark in Seattle) in 1986. This sets up a series of flashbacks to 1942, when twelve-year-old Henry develops a deep friendship with Keiko, a fellow Japanese student on cafeteria duty at his otherwise all-white prep school. The story centers on their relationship through paternal disapproval on Henrys side, anti-Asian racism, and ultimately separation as Keikos family is relocated to the camp at Minidoka, Idaho. Hotels strengths include poignantly portraying Seattles Asian ethnic enclaves, sympathetic characters, andtrue to forma bittersweet resolution. However, some of Jamie Fords (a descendant of a 19th century Chinese miner-immigrant who took on a new name) Cantonese translations lack nuance. The relationship between the fathers and sons could have had more flair. Nonetheless, this was a pleasant read.
reviewed Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet on + 86 more book reviews
Beautifully written story about a Chinese-American boy in WWII-era Washington state, too "Chinese" to be accepted completely by Americans, too American to be accepted by his traditional Chinese father. He befriends a young Japanese-American girl whose family faces internment in a prison camp. The story bounces from past to present, and also touches upon Henry's relationship with his own son. A very believable glimpse into that era of US History that touches a full range of emotions.

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