Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and SweetHotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I like that you can open a block of paper and cardboard with a spine and be whisked away to another time and another place. I like that you can step into some else’s experience and gain another point of view. Life seems so different in the past. Behaviours and attitudes change and books take you back to experience the mistakes so we might not make them again.

Henry is Chinese and Keiko is Japanese and they live in Seattle during World War Two. It is the time when racism and blind patriotism had overtake decency and respect. Henry and Keiko are the only ‘coloured’ children at an all white school on a kind of scholarship and this is where the first buds of attraction begin to grow. But the internment of people of Japanese descent was taking place because they were potential spies for the Enemy and because of such, two lives were altered forever. Henry must decide if his allegiance is to his families traditions or to his heart and what he believes is right or wrong.

This novel flows between two periods of time; the 1940’s during the war and 1986 when Henry is a man old enough to have a college aged son. We are told the story from Henry’s point of view and from his experiences. Its a love story and a coming of age story of how a single person can stand against a great evil and make a difference in the lives of even just a few.

This book is lovely. Easily read, it is gentle and sweet whilst never falling into fake sentimentality. And its always a good thing for current generations to learn from generations past. The ending is full of hope which keeps the book from being too authoritarian.

Definitely worth the read.

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