Monday, December 17, 2012

Review: Hotel On the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

Several of my friends have read Hotel On the Corner of Bitter and Sweet and really liked it, so I thought I'd give it a try. It is a touching story about a Chinese-American who grew up in Seattle during World War II. The pacing was on the slow side (at least initially), but the information about Asian prejudices during that time and Japanese interment camps was very interesting.

Henry was a fascinating character. He went to an all-white school, and his father only allowed him to speak English at home (even though his parents didn't know very much English). Henry's father also made him wear a button that said "I am Chinese". With all of the hate toward Japanese, the button was helpful at times, although Henry didn't like having to wear it.

Henry befriends a girl at his school who is also there on scholarship. Keiko has Japanese ancestry, and Henry has to hide his relationship from his anti-Japanese father.

Henry's relationship with his parents, especially his father, was complex. For the most part it was really sad, especially where Henry's father wouldn't look past his prejudices.

The story moves back and forth from the 1940s to the 1980s. Some of the details included in the 1980s seemed a little off, or at least uncommon, but I still really enjoyed the overall story. It was eye opening and I'd recommend it if you like historical fiction.