Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Book Club Spotlight -- Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

The library book club will be reading Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford. Here is the Barnes and Noble description:

"In the opening pages of Jamie Ford's debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Henry Lee comes upon a crowd gathered outside the Panama Hotel. once the gateway to Seattle's Japantown. It has been boarded up for decades. but now the new owner has made an incredible discovery: the belongings of Japanese families, left when they were rounded up and sent to internment camps during World War II. As Henry looks on, the owner opens a Japanese parasol." "This simple act takes Henry back to the 1940s, when his world was a jumble of confusion and excitement, and to his father. who was obsessed with the war in China and having Henry grow up American. While "scholarshipping" at the exclusive Ranier Elementary. where the white kids ignore him, Henry meets Keiko Okabe, a young Japanese American student. Amid the chaos of blackouts, curfews, and FBI raids, Henry and Keiko forge a bond of friendship - and innocent love - that transcends the long-standing prejudices of their Old World ancestors. After Keiko and her family are swept up in the evacuations to the internment camps, she and Henry are left only with the hope that the war will end and that their promise to each other will be kept." Forty years later, Henry Lee, certain that the parasol belonged to Keiko, searches the hotel's dark. dusty basement for signs of the Okabe family's belongings and for a long-lost object whose value he cannot even begin to measure. Now a widower, Henry is still trying to find his voice: words that might explain the actions of his nationalistic father; words that might bridge the gap between him and his modern, Chinese American son; words that might help him confront the choices he made many years ago.

I remember this being a popular book when it was published. Have you read it? If so, what did you think?


Jo-Jo said...

I still haven't plunged into this novel but it is on my shelf at home. I hope you enjoy it!

Sue Jackson said...

I've also heard good things about this book - it's been on my list for a while now! I would definitely read it for the library book group - I'm reading one for my library's group right now, too - Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks.