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Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford (excerpt)

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford (excerpt)

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“A tender and satisfying novel set in a time and a place lost forever, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet gives us a glimpse of the damage that is caused by war--not the sweeping damage of the battlefield, but the cold, cruel damage to the hearts and humanity of individual people. Especially relevant in today's world, this is a beautifully written book that will make you think. And, more importantly, it will make you feel." -- Garth Stein, New York Times bestselling author of The Art of Racing in the Rain
“A tender and satisfying novel set in a time and a place lost forever, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet gives us a glimpse of the damage that is caused by war--not the sweeping damage of the battlefield, but the cold, cruel damage to the hearts and humanity of individual people. Especially relevant in today's world, this is a beautifully written book that will make you think. And, more importantly, it will make you feel." -- Garth Stein, New York Times bestselling author of The Art of Racing in the Rain

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Publish date: Oct 6, 2009
Added to Scribd: Mar 13, 2009
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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10/04/2013

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HOTEL ON THE CORNER OFBITTER AND SWEET 
A NOVEL 
 Jamie Ford
T
BALLANTINE BOOKS • NEW YORK

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kimjd_2 reviewed this
Rated 4/5
This is one of those where I really wish we could do half stars. A solid three-and-a-half.
A sweet story, but you never fully connect with the characters, and the resolution's just a little too good to be true.
ldvoorberg reviewed this
Rated 3/5
It's not a perfect book, but it is a nice American story about a Chinese American man who remembers his life when he was in gr 6 and befriended a Japanese American girl who was then later was put in an internment camp during WWII. The book flipflops between the man's current life (1986) and his youth (1942).

Yes, the kids as 13 yr olds are much more adult and articulate than one would expect. Perhaps kids in 1942 were more adult, but these two have wisdom and perspective beyond their years. Yes, the story ends as predicted, but it is American. I think my bigger complaint is that the book has the luxury of Henry's adult life being so focussed on that time period in 1942 because in a fictional life, the life that happens between 13 and 50 is glossed over and forgotten. Could a 13 yr old really meet the girl of his dreams and love her enough to always secretly wonder about her, enough so that when he is 50 he still feels strongly about her and wonders about the loose ends? That is more unlikely to me. A 50 yr old dismisses the emotions of his 13 yr old self as childish and moves on. Unless the point of the story is to say that soulmates really exist. But that's going to far.

Take the book as a nice, pleasant story that gives some insight into Seatle in 1942 regarding Chinese and Japanese Americans and immigrants and internment camps. But remember it is sugarcoated.
mephistia reviewed this
Rated 4/5
This is a brilliant, heartbreaking book. The writing and tone is not quite as melancholy as Snow Falling on Cedars, but it's still really well done. I'm enjoying it so far, and I love the pov the author chose. There's one moment, where the protagonist is watching the Japanese being hearded out of Seattle, and he wonders if the portrait brides are being separated from their white, American husbands. I had a sudden visceral desire to read that story, and I felt the echoing loss of not only the Japanese culture, but all that America lost when this stupid, horrific, unjustifiable act was committed. The depth of history, the bonds of trust -- the basic American integrity, all stripped and damaged, perhaps irreparably.

I was a teenager when I first learned about the Japanese internment. Although I grew up in Washington, and knew many Japanese families at my church, I did not know about this sad part of our history. I learned about it at the public library, doing research on the Jewish concentration camps. I remember the disbelief, the horror and disappointment in my country when I realized what we as a people had done, how lines had been drawn and divided and families and histories sundered because of blind, mindless fear. How horribly this echoed the atrocities half a world away. I remember feeling ashamed for weeks afterward when I encountered the older Japanese people at my church, and I knew they had lived through that -- yet they seemed at peace and content, more patriotic than I.

My mom lived in Germany for a while, and she always used to pore over stories of Jewish concentration camp survivors; of Germans who risked their lives and welfare to help some small number survive or escape. It was a constant source of grief and confusion to her that the people she had lived with and loved -- good, honest people -- had turned a blind eye to the atrocities in their country. She never could figure it out. I feel a measure of that when I consider this dark section in our history.
e5j reviewed this
Rated 4/5
I needed this happy ending.

TWSS!

I really did enjoy the book, predictability and all. I think the ramifications of bigotry and racism are clear and in this day and age I liked the reminder.
teenielee reviewed this
Rated 3/5
I liked the book, but DID NOT LIKE some of the weird details that I don't think lined up with the author's timeline. Was the phrase 24/7 widely used in 1986? How about the use of computers to track someone down within a matter of hours or participation in an online grief support group?

Ugh.

jenj5 reviewed this
Rated 3/5
Not my favorite kind of book, but an easier read than I expected and a fairly enjoyable one. I liked that Ford deliberately crafted his story so that there was the possibility for a happy ending. I get a little tired of feeling like literary fiction always ends on a sad note. The choice to go with alternating time periods was a good one as it added tension to the stories and allowed themes to develop more complexly. I went in expecting this to be driven by the historical story, but it was really driven by the characters. It also seems ready made to be turned into an Oscar-bait type movie. Some of the scenes (like Henry and Keiko communicating through the fence; or Henry's wild wagon ride escape) just seem so cinematic already.
flanneryac reviewed this
Rated 4/5
This is the story of a Chinese man from Seattle and his childhood best friend, a Japanese girl who, like him, goes to an all-white school on scholarship. By dividing the tale between Henry's boyhood life starting in the early 1940s and his life in the present (1986), we are able to get glimpses of the experiences that made Henry the man he is today--how Henry's relationship with his son is different than his relationship with his own father, how Henry formed his own cultural beliefs, and all the different types of love he experienced. Plus, I am a big history buff and, although extremely disheartening, I liked learning more about how life might've been for Japanese Americans during World War II.

I have to admit that I teared up a few times during this book. Also, it was great to read about places with which I am familiar. As someone from Seattle, it was so interesting to read about neighborhoods during a different era.
jarvenpa reviewed this
Rated 4/5
Unusual and poignant book.
julie_loves_to_read reviewed this
Rated 4/5
I normally shy away from WWII books, but this was charming. It deserves the attention it is getting from book-clubs
theeccentriclady reviewed this
Rated 4/5
After reading a few not so positive reviews I started the book with caution. I was pleasantly surprised. I enjoyed the story very much and learned new things that I was not aware of during the WWII times. This is always an important factor for me in whether I give a book a rating over 3. The chapters moved quickly for me which is also a plus. I would love to see Jamie write a book written from Keiko's side and what happened to her in her life. I hope others have made that suggestion to him! We should have enough subject matter from this book for a nice book club discussion.

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