Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford was happily finished last night and returned to the library this morning (it's due date). I would say that I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and I think it is quite well written. Sure, there were a few details here and there that didn't line up, but overall I found myself engrossed in the characters, the story, and Seattle in general. My husband grew up in Seattle, and I found myself asking him several times if places were really there. I love getting into a book like this one drew me in.
I love Historical Fiction books. I think a well written historical fiction book is up there with my love for Harry Potter (and that is saying a lot as you can tell from the name of my blog). Historical fictions are great b/c I feel like I get to learn something as I am reading this story about these characters I care about. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet was exactly that kind of historical fiction. You will learn more about the Chinese and Japanese here in America during WWII. You will learn a bit more about the Internment Camps. You will love the story of Henry and his love for Keiko, friendship with Sheldon, and growth emotionally as well as physically. You will love the bitter and the very sweet parts of the story. I think you'll love the story just like I did.
Overall, it's a great a novel and I would give it 4.5 out of 5 stars. I felt like it was well written, paced well, excellent story line, good characterization, and though provoking. It was sad, but I actually never cried. It was happy, and I found myself wanting to know more of the story. It's a great novel, and I would recommend it to anyone. Plus, it is completely clean. No language, sex, or violence really (a few fights as kids with a bully but that is it) to worry about. It's a great book, and adults will love it. A teenager that is into WWII stories or interested in a Japanese Internment Camp historical fiction would enjoy this as well. The only reason this story lost a half a star is due to some of the facts not completely accurate with the setting, i.e. internet in the 80s. However, imperfect as it is it is still a great read. Go check it out!
If you are still unsure, check out the review of School Library Journal:
"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 "I am Chinese" button everywhere he goes because Japanese residents of Seattle have begun to be shipped off by the thousands to relocation centers. This is an old-fashioned historical novel that alternates between the early 1940s and 1984, after Henry's wife Ethel has died of cancer. A particularly appealing aspect of the story is young Henry's fascination with jazz and his friendship with Sheldon, an older black saxophonist just making a name for himself in the many jazz venues near Henry's home. Other aspects of the story are more typical of the genre: the bullies that plague Henry, his lack of connection with his father, and later with his own son. Readers will care about Henry as he is forced to make decisions and accept circumstances that separate him from both his family and the love of his life. While the novel is less perfect as literature than John Hamamura's Color of the Sea (Thomas Dunne, 2006), the setting and quietly moving, romantic story are commendable."
Have any of read it already? What did you think?