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ARC: Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

September 20, 2008

Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
Web site for Jamie Ford
Web site for Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet; check out what others are saying
Ballantine Books; release date January 27, 2009
304 pages
Book provided by Random House

This book is one of my top picks for this year and it’s release date isn’t until January of ’09. There wasn’t any part of this book that I didn’t love it was that good. If you can get your hands on an ARC ~ do so. This is one of those times that I wish I wrote professional style book reviews but alas I don’t. I laughed, I cried and was touched many, many times.

** I tried very hard not to include major spoiler elements in this review yet I had to include some parts of the plot lines **

This story encompasses young love, race, family, sacrifice, race and internment camps. It is set on the border between Chinatown and Japantown in the heart of Seattle, Washington. I was born and raised in the Seattle area yet Mr. Ford includes pieces and parts of a city’s history that even I wasn’t familiar with.

This is Henry’s story and is told between current time (1986) and the war years (1942-1945). Switching between time frames is by chapter so there’s no guessing what year you’re in. Mr. Ford handles his subject matter beautifully and brings to life this touching, tender story. I was drawn into Henry’s world from the very first page. Mr. Ford writes with a sense of humor describing some of young Henry’s escapades yet switching to sensitive story telling poses no problem for this author.

As an adult Henry is struggling with family issues both past and present. As a young man he was raised by semi-traditional Chinese parents, especially a domineering father set in his ways and beliefs. A father who wants his son to act and think American and speak English. A father who harbors a hatred of the Japanese and forces his son to wear a button declaring he is Chinese. As an adult, Henry, who was married a number of years and raised a child is coming to grips with his spouse’s death and learning to communicate openly with his own child. He is trying to reconcile his feelings for his own father with how he relates and interacts with his son.

This is, also, a very touching story of young love between Henry, who is Chinese, and Keiko (Kay-Ko) who is a Japanese school mate. Over time his life as has been colored by the forbidden young love that he shared with Keiko. Henry and Keiko attended an exclusively white elementary school sent there by parents who wanted more for their children. They are outcasts and treated as such. They become best of friends and Henry does his best to protect Keiko from those who despise her because of her Japanese heritage. Along the way Henry must hide his friendship with Keiko from his parents while he is accepted and, even welcomed, into Keiko’s family. Eventually the war intrudes into their lives separating these two as her family is relocated to a internment camp in Idaho. What happens after that I’ll leave to Mr. Ford’s story telling.


This book is a must read.

X-posted: Book Club & Publishers Book Blog

  1. September 20, 2008 2:32 pm

    I’m so glad to see you loved this book because I’ve requested it and got a very nice note from the author. After reading your review, I can’t wait to get it.

  2. September 21, 2008 10:00 am

    Hi Kathy~
    This is great read. One I can’t recommend enough. I’m working with Random House to get some additional copies to giveaway (crossed fingers). 🙂

  3. September 27, 2008 9:32 pm

    This book sounds like a real page-turner. I love books dealing with the WWII era. I can’t wait to read this one!
    I loved it start to finish and it’s the ‘Featured Book’ on my blog right now.

  4. September 28, 2008 6:38 pm

    Oh, good! Ford’s publicist sent me a copy a month or so ago and now I’m really excited to read it. Just haven’t had time until recently, but it’s going to the top of my stack.
    It’s not often that I rave about a book because I read so many and it takes really good book to get me going. This book is one of those ~ start to finish it’s a winner.

  5. October 5, 2008 8:27 am

    This sounds great and I love this era of history. I’ll have to get a copy soon. Wisteria. Great review!
    Thank you for the compliment. I’ve sent a lot of time talking this book up so hopefully I won’t let everyone down.

  6. November 12, 2008 3:11 pm

    I just recieved my ARC from Random House – and signed by the author too! I’ve started reading even though I’m at work. Can’t wait to get home so I can settled doen with it. Thank You!

  7. December 9, 2008 8:28 pm

    I just found out I’m getting this ARC from LT and I’m thrilled to know you hold it in such high esteem! I had heard about this book awhile back and its been in the back of my mind. I never imagined I’d be lucky enough to receive and advanced copy! Your review was great!


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